Govt turns democracy into demockracy

04/10/2021

Can you join the dots between these two undemocratic moves by the government?

Last week it conceded that consultation on Three Waters is a farce:

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s promises to listen to councils were clearly just lip service after she all but confirmed that her Government will proceed with forcing the Three Waters Reforms on every council in New Zealand, National’s Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says.

“In Parliament yesterday the Minister extolled the apparent virtues of an ‘all-in’ legislated approach to Three Waters reform, clearly paving the way for legislation to come.

“An ‘all-in’ approach would see every council in the country lose their existing control of their water assets, which would then be centralised within one of four new regional water entities.

“If an ‘all-in’ approach was the Minister’s foregone conclusion, why has she wasted councils’ time by pretending to seek their views through a farcical engagement process, and making them go to the trouble of submitting feedback before today?

“The Minister’s sales pitch is a clear admission that she has already decided to forge ahead and make the reforms compulsory.

“National has been warning councils and communities for months that this outcome would be inevitable.

“We will keep fighting the Three Waters asset grab with everything we’ve got. We encourage every New Zealander to sign our petition to stop it.”

The government also rushed through, under urgency, the first reading of a Bill that would give itself the power to delay local body elections :

 The Government must urgently explain why it wants to give itself the power to delay next year’s local body elections limitless times through to 2023, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“The Government is currently able to adjourn a local election for up to six weeks in a local body election year.

“In a bill introduced to Parliament only yesterday, and now rushed through its first reading under urgency, the Government wants to empower itself to adjourn polling day multiple times without constraint – and not just in an election year, but the year after as well.

“It would mean that the Government could delay every local body election next year, all the way through 2023. No wonder the Minister didn’t mention it in his First Reading speech.

“This would be a major change and a threat to local decision-making – yet Labour are forcing the bill through a shortened select committee process which will allow almost no proper public consultation.

“Granting this power under the cloak of Covid-19 is egregious.

“Local body elections are conducted by postal ballot, not by in-person voting. The Government has ample time to prepare for the 2022 local elections and the existing ability to adjourn them if required due to an Alert Level change.

“What does legislating this draconian and overreaching power now, a year out, imply about Labour’s confidence in their own Covid-19 response?

“The Government is under massive pressure over the Three Waters Reforms and their relationships with councils are already severely strained. This latest proposal will only pour fuel on the fire.

“Councils and communities will rightly reject this move for the assault on local control that it is – especially with Labour ramming it through Parliament under a truncated process.

“New Zealanders won’t accept another attempted power grab from the Beehive.

“National will keep fighting Labour’s attempts to diminish local democracy. We must keep the ‘local’ in local government.”

Steven Joyce says the government is getting too big for its boots:

. . . For good measure the same bill will give minister Chris Hipkins the unfettered right to postpone next year’s local government postal elections for up to a year.

But the biggest over-reach of all so far is minister Nanaia Mahuta’s threat to confiscate water infrastructure assets owned by ratepayers without fair payment, in order to create four new corporate water entities around the country.

She is also refusing to provide shares in or direct oversight of those entities back to local councils.

That is a travesty.

There are good arguments for water reform, and some amalgamations into regional entities that can borrow money to invest in assets makes sense. But confiscating the assets of any organisation not owned by central government is going several steps too far.

These are all signs of a government getting too big for its boots. The impression is worsened by the expensive wall-to-wall propaganda, sorry — advertising, being employed to sell the water reforms and other contentious policies like the gold-plated tram for Auckland’s inner west. Covid-19 publicity is legitimate, political propaganda is not.

A year after being handed an old-style first past the post result, and having possibly developed a taste for bossing people around during the Covid response, the current Government is regularly behaving like its Muldoon-style predecessors. . . 

Would it be overly cynical to join the dots between a Minister who gives every appearance of planning to force the Three Waters plan on councils, whether or not they want it and the government giving itself the power to delay local body elections?

The government is turning democracy into demockracy.


Quotes of the month

01/10/2021

Our Parliament has never before been unilaterally shut by the Speaker. Open Democracy reports that 31 authoritarian governments have used Covid to shut or limit parliaments. Now the list is 32 countries.  –  Richard Prebble

There seems to be a strange alliance developing between the urban environmentalists on the one hand and huge financial interests on the other. The environmentalists want “green” technology not so much to preserve the environment, for whose aesthetic aspects they care little, but as evidence that they “care.” A 600-foot white windmill in a beauty spot does not offend them, on the contrary, they rejoice at it; they see not a bird-slaying eyesore, but an almost religious symbol of salvation, much as crosses used to be placed in the countryside in once-Christian countries. As to the actual effect on the environment, whether the windmill saves or expends energy overall is something that very few of them would be able to compute, but is beside the point, which is to demonstrate compassion toward the biosphere. Meanwhile, subsidies make millionaires. No subsidies, no windmills.Theodore Dalrymple

Intention these days is nine-tenths of virtue, and intention is measured mainly by what people say that their intentions are. After all, each of us is expert on his own intentions, perhaps the only subject on which he is really expert; and therefore if I say I want more 600-feet windmills because that is the only by which the planet be saved, who can gainsay it? – Theodore Dalrymple

I concede, however, that many people feel differently, and regard their car as a symbol of their freedom to be mobile. Voluntary servitude is a well-known condition, but let it not be electrified into the bargain.Theodore Dalrymple

Indeed, looking backwards is a big part of New Zealand’s current predicament. The puttering start to the vaccine rollout while other countries sped ahead. The obvious shortcomings with our managed isolation and quarantine facilities. The Ministry of Health’s failure to stress-test its contact tracing capabilities or even develop workable Bluetooth tracing capability. And the constant repetition of tired slogans from 2020. All this smacks of excessive satisfaction with past success. – Roger Partridge

Looking backwards, elimination has served us well. And New Zealand’s low vaccination rates means the country has no feasible alternative but to use strict lockdowns to try to stamp out the current incursion.

But how sustainable is this strategy going forwards? –  Roger Partridge

The economic costs of lockdowns are not measured by the cost to the taxpayer alone. The real financial costs are to people’s livelihoods. Economist Michael Reddell calculates that last year’s lockdowns wiped $12b from GDP last year. The current lockdown will add billions more to that. Once again, business opportunities will disappear, firms will fail, and jobs will be lost. –  Roger Partridge

Just as the financial costs of lockdown are cumulative, so too are the human costs. Curtailing freedoms comes at a high price. Medical appointments missed. Education foregone. Friends and families cut off from each other, even at times of acute emotional stress during births and bereavements. Even the loss of everyday recreational activities like a day at the beach or in the mountains takes a heavy toll. – Roger Partridge

There are no good options with Covid. But an elimination strategy that was undoubtedly optimal for the first part of the Covid journey, looks much harder to justify for the journey ahead.

A change of course would bring significant benefits. Families separated by the closed borders would have an opportunity to be reunited. Kiwis stranded overseas would have a better chance of returning. Businesses would be able to meet offshore customers and suppliers. – Roger Partridge

More than that, a new course would mark an end of an authoritarian state that at times has seemed more willing to limit our liberty than to learn from its own mistakes. – Roger Partridge

Looking back, few Kiwis would have swapped their experience during the first year-and-a-bit of the pandemic with anyone else’s around the world.

But whether the road ahead requires the same approach is another matter. There are plenty of reasons for Kiwis to question both the driving and the direction of travel. – – Roger Partridge

Anyone who accidentally creates discomfort—whether through their teaching methods, their editorial standards, their opinions, or their personality—may suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of not just a student or a colleague but an entire bureaucracy, one dedicated to weeding out people who make other people uncomfortable. And these bureaucracies are illiberal. They do not necessarily follow rules of fact-based investigation, rational argument, or due process. Instead, the formal and informal administrative bodies that judge the fate of people who have broken social codes are very much part of a swirling, emotive public conversation, one governed not by the rules of the courtroom or logic or the Enlightenment but by social-media algorithms that encourage anger and emotion, and by the economy of likes and shares that pushes people to feel—and to perform—outrage. The interaction between the angry mob and the illiberal bureaucracy engenders a thirst for blood, for sacrifices to be offered up to the pious and unforgiving gods of outrage—a story we see in other eras of history, from the Inquisition to the more recent past.  – Anne Applebaum

There’s another thesis to be written on the contrasting Covid-19 strategies adopted in Australia and New Zealand, and their strikingly different outcomes. Whoever writes it might like to consider, among other things, why New Zealand appears more amenable to lockdowns. Setting aside contrasting political structures, I think it’s another reminder that despite all our superficial similarities, the two countries are culturally and socially quite distinct. Some might say it’s the difference between a larrikin country with lawlessness in its DNA (that would be Australia, in case you’re wondering) and one whose people are meeker and more compliant – or if you prefer, more inclined to pull together in pursuit of a common goal. But I won’t stick my neck out by going any further than that.Karl du Fresne

I’m valuable enough to work in healthcare, but not valuable enough to be a resident. – Yvette du Plessis-Uys

We migrants are not burdens to this country. We are contributing to the country … but are treated like, even less than second class citizens.Thao Joy 

Lack of clarity of goals is a recipe both for inefficiency and an opportunity for bureaucratic overgrowth. Practically nothing goes uncontested; all is confusion. The police are unsure whether their job is to keep public order, prevent and detect crime, or engage in social engineering, by, say, eliminating expressions of hatred or joining in local carnivals by dancing in them. Are teachers supposed to impart certain basic skills and knowledge to children, or turn them into right-thinking mental clones, incapable of bad thoughts? Absurdities proliferate, generating heat but no light. – Theodore Dalrymple

The secret of success, it seems, is an intellectually modest, but very clear, goal in the national interest. In such circumstances, organizational complexity can be managed. It is ideological confusion of purpose that conduces to incompetence.Theodore Dalrymple

Chief Human Rights Commissioners, however, are supposed to uphold the secular character of the New Zealand state. As public servants, they are not entitled to talk like Archbishops. They may tell us what is lawful and unlawful. They may even reiterate the purposes of the Act of Parliament which created their office. But they have no mandate whatsoever to instruct New Zealanders on what is “Right” and what is “Wrong”. – Chris Trotter

Criticism of Ardern is not that she again locked down the country on August 17. Everyone accepts she had no choice, given the circumstances. The criticism is why those circumstances prevailed.Matthew Hooton

Being angry about the Ardern Government’s operational failures is not the same as opposing her objective, strategy or individual decisions. In fact, it is essential those failures be highlighted and those responsible be held to account — in real time by the media, promptly by the Auditor-General and Brian Roche’s continuous monitoring committee, and ultimately by the inevitable Royal Commission into New Zealand’s Covid response and — if necessary — by the judiciary. – Matthew Hooton

Most importantly, academics, the media, the Opposition and the public have a responsibility to continually put the blowtorch on Ardern to ensure her Government prepares for the end of the elimination era a hell of a lot better than it did the arrival of Delta. Cheerleading any government is the most likely way to make it lazy and sloppy.

With Covid, that risks costing people their lives.Matthew Hooton

Current legislation is based on a false interpretation of the original Treaty documents signed by an overwhelming majority of Iwi leaders that clearly stated the terms of the deal reached between the Crown and Maori.

The fact that parts of that agreement were, in subsequent years ignored by the Crown – although reprehensible, does not in itself justify the creation of a separatist society in compensation for the “sins of our Pakeha forebears.” – Clive Bibby

This lockdown feels different. Taking the temperature of friends and colleagues, there seems less stoicism and more grumpiness. There is a weariness about people’s responses when you ask how they are going. Part of it is the novelty wearing off. Making your own bread might have been fun the first time around, but the third or fourth time, not so much. Another part is the sense that we shouldn’t be here.

No matter how much the Government spins, people know it is the low and slow vaccination rate which has meant there is no other option besides lockdown, just as it has been in the eastern states of Australia. Then there is the loss of control over your own life. That sense of frustration and powerlessness and an inability to make plans. For many, that loss of personal agency is debilitating.Steven Joyce

It doesn’t help anyone that there is no sense of direction about what comes next. The Government is playing its cards too close to its chest. Whether they haven’t thought things through or have a fear of subsequently being proven wrong, ministers aren’t saying anything substantive about the future. – Steven Joyce

People need hope. They need to know what is coming next. They need a sense of positive momentum.

And they also need to see a change in approach. There has been too much bumbling around, too much dissembling, and too much poor delivery for things to continue the way they have been.

The Government needs to start by setting a clear vaccination target and a date. It is surely now apparent people are willing to get their vaccinations. Notwithstanding the PM’s comment, the problem is supply, not demand. The Government should set a target for the country to achieve by the end of the year, and go all out to achieve it. That would give everyone something to work towards.Steven Joyce

The game-playing at 1pm also needs to stop. The Government’s management of the message risks insulting the intelligence of voters. The Ministry of Health should provide the data earlier in the day, and ministers should call press conferences when they have something significant to say. – Steven Joyce

Whether it’s a bunker mentality or ideology, it is ridiculous how many talented people who don’t work on the public payroll have been excluded from the pandemic response.

Whether it’s vaccine procurement, provision of MIQ facilities, saliva and antigen testing, contact tracing, hospital preparedness, or dragging the chain on letting pharmacies and GPs give the jabs, two-thirds of the country’s capability has been left on the bench. That has to change. Doing so would visibly give the public confidence that the Government is open to new ideas and new directions.Steven Joyce

And finally, ministers should halt their health reforms. These were designed for another time. It is ludicrous they have continued to trundle along during the pandemic, and each passing month makes it more so. It is generally a bad idea to reorganise an army while it is fighting a war, and that surely applies here.

There is no evidence from the pandemic that greater top-down centralisation of the health sector will achieve better results, and in fact the reverse. From clipboard Charlies preventing pharmacies from providing vaccines to opaque dissembling with information, there is nothing in the ministry’s recent performance that gives confidence that a national health service would do a better job than a local one.

The health sector does need reform in the future but not this reform and not now. Rip it up and let’s start again later. Put the money into the front line. – Steven Joyce

 I just hope this is another time in our country’s history where we come together to show that love is stronger than any hate.Kerre McIvor

Yet the state’s failures in other areas has been shocking. It appears no provision has been made to increase ICU capacity, despite 18 months to prepare. There is no Plan B and Plan A is failing.

Perhaps Delta has been a gift in accelerating the rate of vaccines as well as driving home the message that, in this pandemic, as in mate selection, demanding purity is an unobtainable standard that leads only to disappointment and isolation. – Damien Grant

Violence in the name of ideology is the polar opposite of free speech. It is the ultimate attempt to silence those who do not share your worldview.

Differences of political and religious opinion must be navigated with reason and dialogue. Never through violence. Never through fear.

Those who refuse to resolve ideological differences with words are the ones who turn to violence. Those who refuse to respectfully engage in civil dialogue with those they disagree with are the ones who become hateful extremists in the first place.

Freedom of speech — the fundamental human right to peacefully express one’s opinion — is an inherently non-violent principle. This is why we seek to protect it. –  Free Speech Union

But this act of terrorism is also unthinkable because it was utterly predictable.

Yet it happened anyway. No amount of finger pointing will change that.

But we deserve to know why it went so wrong. – Tracy Watkins

The same people who won’t take a vaccine that has been given to billions to people around the world – an extraordinarily safe vaccine – are willing to take a cow medicine and a cow dose, but their argument against the vaccine is that it’s not safe?Kurt Krause

As things stand, an unvaccinated employee has greater rights than her vulnerable co-worker. It is like banning non-smoking workplaces while prohibiting workers from complaining about the smoker at the next desk. – Eric Crampton

Leadership is about doing not talking. 

There are almost three million Australians directly benefiting from the doing and not a single New Zealander benefiting from the talking. – Mike Hosking

Awareness without access to mental health support is kind of like noticing you’re thirsty but having no water. Noticing the thirst may help you seek out the water, but if you are in a situation where there is literally no water, then you are probably better off trying to forget about the thirst. I’m not sure I can stomach another Mental Health Awareness Week where people are encouraged to reach out, get into nature, but absolutely nothing is done to help those people who have been desperately trying to do that, those people who have been coming up against closed doors. For some people in New Zealand, awareness is still valuable (and there are many appropriate resources available for people facing less severe mental health challenges), but there are many people who are well past awareness and what we actually need is some help.  – Lucy McLean

Twelve months later, it is no longer heretical to question the Ministry of Health’s pandemic management. Indeed, it is mainstream. The litany of the ministry’s failings is too long for questions about its fitness for purpose to be decried. The delayed start of the vaccine rollout. Ongoing border testing bungles. The inexplicable delays with saliva testing. The failure to scale up ICU capacity. The constant refrains about failures being “frustrating” or “not what we expected”. The list goes on and on. Roger Partridge

Gorman and Horn observe that the proverbial “Man from Mars” would puzzle at biosecurity in New Zealand and Australia. Both countries have sophisticated and proactive biosecurity agencies to protect against pests and diseases that threaten their agricultural sectors. Yet, when it comes to biosecurity arrangements that protect their populations from pandemics, both have been found wanting.

They have a point. Indeed, the Martian visitor might also wonder why the Government ever tasked the Ministry of Health with operating managed isolation and quarantine facilities. The ministry’s areas of expertise are in policy, procurement and regulation. It is not expert in complex logistical operations. Little wonder the Government eventually concluded the ministry was not up to the MIQ task and enlisted the army’s assistance.

Yet the Government repeated the mistake when entrusting the ministry with managing the national vaccine rollout. Is anyone surprised the rollout got off to such a poor start? – Roger Partridge

It used to be that each village had an idiot, but now those village idiots can converge online in communities, which create echo chambers that reinforce those beliefs. But if social media provides the oxygen, what about the initial spark?Jarrod Gilbert

Among the prime minister’s significant political skills is the ability to appear to answer a question without really answering it at all.  – Luke Malpass

However, it’s all very well laughing at this nonsensical verbosity, but the implications are serious. What it reveals is an inability to be honest and admit a cock-up, as the Australian PM did and apologised to the nation for, but worse, screaming incompetence and abysmally poor judgement.Bob Jones

The single greatest thing any New Zealander can do right now is go and get vaccinated; I cannot stress how important that is. The vaccines are the single greatest investment this Government, or indeed any government, will make in the economy. – Chris Bishop

The Government doesn’t believe that argument on its own rhetoric. They’re saying other countries needed it more than we did so it’s fine to be last in the world while simultaneously saying the vaccine rollout is going really well.’’

“If it’s true that the moral thing to do is for New Zealand to be second to last in the OECD, then why not give away all our vaccines now and hand them over to the developing world? There’s plenty of African countries not rolling out the vaccine, on their own rhetoric that would be the moral thing to do but we’re not doing that. Chris Bishop

I think they’ve done a pretty good job overall with Covid, but they’ve slipped into complacency and self-congratulation mode at the expense of preparation. We sat back and said, ‘We’re the best in the world, we’ve got freedoms that nobody else has, Six60 is playing at Eden Park and it’s so amazing’ (if you like Six60, which apparently people do). – Chris Bishop

The PM likes to say, ‘We were last to get Delta so we could be prepared’, but where’s the evidence that New Zealand actually spent the time being the last to get Delta, looking overseas and saying, ‘You know what, maybe we need to change up our approach here’. Chris Bishop

The two most powerful emotions a government can engage the public with are fear and hope. This Government has been superb on fear. – Mike Hosking

The messaging has been so effective, a few still think that the 26 who originally died pre-vaccine is a stat worth re-quoting ad nauseum, almost as though the world hasn’t moved on, hasn’t got a vaccine, and hasn’t worked out how to live with Covid.

It’s been so effective some still think this lockdown, although brought about solely through ineptitude in terms of failing to prepare for the inevitable outbreak by not hiring enough contact tracers, not expanding health capacity and not getting enough vaccine at a time we actually need it, is to be defended.

Yes the lockdown this time was the right thing to do, only because it was the only thing to do.  But it was the only thing to do because preparation, foresight, planning and delivery fail this government in a way I have not seen in the modern political era. – Mike Hosking

My fear about the fear is this government doesn’t like hope because it involves aspiration and promising stuff it might not be able to deliver.

Delivering fear is easy, we’ve lived it for 18 months.

If you look at the world now versus 18 months ago and look at us now versus 18 months ago, one is dramatically different and yet one isn’t.

And the one that isn’t is the one crippled by fear, not driven by hope. – Mike Hosking

When a government decides to stop citizens saying what they think, it never ends well for democracy.  – Matt McCarten

The proposed solution is far worse than the problem. Do we really feel we have to be protected from someone espousing nonsense or even venom?

When the state thinks it needs to decide what ideas can be said or heard, it’s inevitably used to suppress voices that the powerful don’t want us to hear. – Matt McCarten

So when my mates on the left say we need legislation to stop hate, my response is: we don’t. The current changes will stop people from saying what they think. Frankly, that’s worse.

Ideas we don’t like can make us uncomfortable. Every change in society requires debate. People say stupid things. Only through discussion can we win the hearts and minds of others, and then, eventually, society adopts these new ideas as a new norm. Do people really believe we should have censors determining what we can say and hear?

Suppressing voices is always worse than having a few idiots mouthing off. Matt McCarten

Anyone with knowledge of history knows that suppression laws will eventually be used by the powerful against the weak. Free speech is not a left versus right debate. It’s about protecting democracy and civil society.  – Matt McCarten

The Ministry of Alphabetical Truth seems to like creating the illusion of men not needing women in order to produce children. Motherhood is erased, and perhaps we are to believe that it is replaced by obliging rainbow storks. Not a woman in sight. – Gary Powell

The white heat of domestic politics can be quick to defeat high-minded virtue. – Claire Trevett

When I joined the Department, I was a committed protectionist, believing that controlling imports the way we were was the right thing for New Zealand. But after a few months of seeing the system at work and having on an almost weekly basis visits from senior business leaders begging the likes of this fresh-faced official for import licences so they could carry on or expand their businesses, I realised its folly and became the ardent supporter of free trade and open markets I remain today.  – Peter Dunne 

The thought that major building and construction industry players are having to go cap in hand to junior officials in MBIE to plead their case to be allowed to resume business seems like import licensing all over again. The sole concern here should be whether it is safe for a business to reopen in a Covid19 environment. There should be nothing more to it than that.

It is most certainly not for MBIE to decide whether this product or that is necessary or desirable. Junior government officials, often with little life experience, making major decisions about when and how significant businesses can operate seems just as ludicrous now as it was when I was doing import licensing. And it will surely prove to be just as an inept and uneven approach. The best people to understand business conditions and the demand for specialist goods and services are those involved in the businesses themselves, not an official with no direct business experience sitting behind a desk in Wellington, or, now more likely, working comfortably from home. – Peter Dunne 

One of the major reasons for import licensing’s ultimate failure was that the assumption and practices which underpinned its administration fell out of step and way behind current business practice of the day. Yesterday’s solutions were no longer fit for purpose for dealing with today’s challenges. Yet setting up a business continuity licensing regime, which is effectively what is occurring at present, run by faceless officials with no practical experience is the modern equivalent of the failed import licensing system.

MBIE’s approach, endorsed by Ministers, amounts to subtle re-regulation of the business sector in a way not seen since Muldoonism of the late 1970s and early 1980s. In line with the axiom, “history repeats itself”, it is likely to be just as spectacular a failure and will have eventually to be unwound and balance restored. But given that the current government seems to think that anything that happened before it came to office in 2017 is ancient history and therefore not worth taking any notice of, that is likely to be some time away. – Peter Dunne 

There are intangible reasons to justify say a year or two at university as a bridging experience between childhood and adult status. But otherwise, unless studying for a traditional career such as medicine or law, to a very large degree trusting and unworldly kids attending university today are victims of a gigantic fraud. –  Bob Jones

The modern university is today largely a scam, exploiting the vulnerable with its ever expanding range of non-intellectual bullshit degrees.Bob Jones

Nothing good comes from the politics of fear and hate.  – Matthew Hooton

The only real way to get out of the debt position New Zealand will find itself in “is to grow the economy like billy-o – Andrew Bayley

If suffering confers moral authority, greater suffering confers greater moral authority; and everyone wants, and believes he has, moral authority, the more of it the better. Hence it is necessary to claim to have suffered enormously, in short to be a survivor. Suffering must be magnified and lengthened: it is no good having suffered if you have merely got over it by, for example, pushing it to the back of your mind and getting on with life. And such is the nature of the human mind, that wonderfully flexible instrument, that you can magnify and lengthen your suffering at will, as much and as long as you wish, or as much and as long as necessary to obtain the desired kudos. At the same time you can disguise from yourself that fact that this is what you are doing.

Moreover, you can be a hereditary sufferer, so to speak. It is not necessary for you to have suffered anything personally to obtain the moral authority of suffering and sufferers. It is only necessary that you should belong to a group that, historically, has been wronged and suffered as a result. The glory of this is that you can claim to have suffered enormously while having, in fact, led a very privileged existence. Your membership of the group that has suffered, or suffers still, turns you into an honorary victim; and as we know, amateurs are often better than professionals. They have a more genuine attachment to their role. – Theodore Dalrymple

If 2021, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put it, is the year of the vaccine, then 2020 was the year of the vaccine purchase agreement. And it bears remembering that the former has been delivered in accordance with the terms of the latter. – Kate MacNamara

But it’s important to note that Medsafe’s approval was later than other countries’ regulatory agencies in large measure because New Zealand’s original vaccine purchase was late. Initial data was submitted to Medsafe by Pfizer for the vaccine approval on October 21, only after the first purchase agreement was in place. Kate MacNamara

So the late timing of Pfizer doses was in train much earlier than the Government likes to imply. In addition, scope for reopening deals and paying more for early vaccine delivery certainly existed, though perhaps that window of opportunity was not open as late as February-March of this year. Kate MacNamara

It wouldn’t matter much except vaccination, the Government promises, will restore some normalcy, save billions of dollars, and free us from the blight of lockdowns. Kate MacNamara

Yes, our government stuffed it up big time. It moved too slow due to sluggish administrative, regulatory & bureaucratic processes in Wellington. That’s why we’re all locked down today. It was a $10 billion mistake – and counting – by the Ministry of Health. And the economic costs of moving oh-so-slow amount to half of this country’s entire annual health budget. – Robert MacCulloch

 If there is any risk that the media is skewing their representation of the performance of government, then we are indeed on shaky ground. In fact I suggest that there is nothing quite as dangerous in any democracy as a media that is beholden to the Government.

And there is no doubt in my mind that this Government, as it lurches from clumsy mistakes to avoidable crises, is currently getting an easy ride from the majority of the media operators. – Bruce Cotterill

A free and independent press is a critically important foundation to any democracy. Without it, governments can go unchecked and the rule of law will suffer. – Bruce Cotterill

Sadly, our media does not appear to be as independent and free as we should prefer. We seem to show a lot of photos of the Prime Minister smiling and the opposition leader frowning. – Bruce Cotterill

But reporting what you see and hear is not journalism. Journalism involves questioning what you see and hear. Is it true? Is it right? Who did it? Who said it? Why do you think that? Where is the supporting information and evidence? 

That’s what we’re missing. – Bruce Cotterill

I recently spoke to a senior journalist based in Wellington. He is someone whose opinions and writing I respect. I asked why the questions from the press gallery didn’t seek to dig deeper into what are often flippant answers from our government ministers. He simply said the following; “If you are too tough, you don’t get invited back”. – Bruce Cotterill

Some call this censorship of the press. I call it a denial of access. If the media is threatened with a lack of access, or in other words, if access is used as a negotiating tool or a bargaining chip, then we have a challenge to our democracy that is greater than anything we have had to previously consider.Bruce Cotterill

The media must be free. Free to ask, question, challenge and investigate. Free to publish its findings. Free to hold governments to account. And not just governments.

Businesses, sporting organisations, and high profile personalities, all by virtue of their position in society, need to be held to an appropriate level of conduct and behaviour. – Bruce Cotterill

In a democracy it is very important that a government and indeed members across the political spectrum are able to get their messages out to the people in a way that provides a fair representation of their policies and their activities.

However, it is also equally important that the media question those policies and activities in a way that seeks greater clarity about what those policies are meant to achieve, and greater accountability in regard to their execution and effectiveness. Bruce Cotterill

There is a message in all this. The media who have put out their hands and cheerfully pocketed taxpayer funds they don’t need have only themselves to blame if the public smells a rat and begins to doubt their message. – Michael Bassett

It is possible to build applications that serve our needs, and save lives by providing evidence of vaccinations while also protecting personal privacy.

But it is vital activists, civil society, Parliament and the courts are allowed to carefully scrutinise new measures to ensure that even in the midst of a health panic, we aren’t giving up what we can’t take back. – Andrea Vance

We’ll never know the true cost of 9/11, the cost of the lost of the thousands of lives, what they might have created, what their children might have created, and how much richer humanity would have been for it.  It was an attack not just on them, but on an idea.  The idea that free people can choose how they live, to work, to trade, to enjoy life, and to not have their lives owned by others, by self-serving authority bowing to an ideology that shackles them to the literal interpretation of some aged religious tracts. The idea that Government should be to subordinate people to the will of theocratic bigots, rather than exist to protect their rights and established by the people to protect them from those who wish to take away those rights.  – Liberty Scott

I never once believed —  nor do I now —  that the purpose of instruction was to lead my students to a particular conclusion. Rather, I sought to create the conditions for rigorous thought; to help them gain the tools to hunt and furrow for their own conclusions. This is why I became a teacher and why I love teaching.

But brick by brick, the university has made this kind of intellectual exploration impossible. It has transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a Social Justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs were grievance and division.

Students at Portland State are not being taught to think. Rather, they are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues. Faculty and administrators have abdicated the university’s truth-seeking mission and instead drive intolerance of divergent beliefs and opinions. This has created a culture of offense where students are now afraid to speak openly and honestly. Peter Boghossian

This isn’t about me. This is about the kind of institutions we want and the values we choose. Every idea that has advanced human freedom has always, and without fail, been initially condemned. As individuals, we often seem incapable of remembering this lesson, but that is exactly what our institutions are for: to remind us that the freedom to question is our fundamental right. Educational institutions should remind us that that right is also our duty.  – Peter Boghossian

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly gynaecological cancer, and kills more women than New Zealand’s annual road toll and more than melanoma. Yet it remains underfunded and largely ignored. Jane Ludemann

Women need to advocate for themselves, to not be afraid to stand up and say ‘No, I’m not happy with that diagnosis, I want further investigation’. For this to happen, we need to make women aware that these cancers exist, and show them what to look out for. If they don’t have this information, they can’t connect the dots. – Sara Ingram

Having a cancer diagnosis changes everything. Now I do the things that make me happy. It’s about always looking forward, not having regrets and accepting mistakes. Everybody has to deal with tough stuff. It’s about taking that stuff and seeing that something great can be born out of it.Sara Ingram

My point is that even though the decision was wrong, it was made for the right reasons. Our immigration authorities might appear to be incompetent, but they are neither bad, corrupt nor venal. – Damien Grant

This is a law that needs to be changed but a person cannot be deprived of their liberty because what did they should be illegal, if what they did wasn’t illegal. Damien Grant

By upholding the rights of the worst amongst us, we protect the rights of us all. Rights apply to all residents of these islands and are not subject to removal by executive whim. – Damien Grant

These rights are enjoyed by all of us only because they are enjoyed by the least of us. The trade-off between liberty and safety is necessarily high.

It is tempting to consider that less violence would have occurred had we given the state a freer hand, but if you want to understand what the state does with a free hand ask the Waikato Māori. Ultimately, our civil liberties are to protect us from the Crown, who has, unfortunately, a nasty history of abusing its subjects.Damien Grant

The war on terror has eroded our liberties in many small ways, but we have retained a bedrock of institutional restrictions that limit the arbitrary power of the state.

We should remember this as we navigate our way in the months, and possibly years, ahead. The principles that were applied to this terrorist’s rights were developed over 800 years; first laid down in the Magna Carta and refined, expanded and fought for over many centuries.

We should not give them up lightly, or cheaply. We should not give them up at all. – Damien Grant

This is only one event that got across the border and look at the mayhem, one month lockdown, a billion dollars a week that’s just not sustainable in the long term and all the pressure that people are under … the family issues, the schools, the devastation to the economy and the extra health issues.

People aren’t getting their colonoscopys, getting their skin checked for melanoma, heart checks up, all those things are really important health issues.Graham Le Gros

I think that’s where the economic, the other health issues and the social pressures really start to come into play and I think that if you’ve got 70-80 percent vaccinated even with the one jab you’re in a pretty good situation to be able to withstand the major effects of this virus.

I’m not throwing elimination out just yet … but you’ve also just got to face facts if the virus has got away and it’s just staying underground until it pops up again then let’s just focus on vaccination and learning to live with the virus. – Graham Le Gros

The Government’s been caught short again – this time, lacking a clear strategy to get us out of dodge. 

On the one hand, they’re saving Kiwis’ lives. On the other, they’re eliminating businesses and harming mental health. 

Like sunbathers on the beach watching a tsunami roll in, we have not yet – 18 months on from the first outbreak – left the comfort of our beach towels on the sand to build a single managed isolation and quarantine facility outside of Auckland. Ryan Bridge

Jacinda Ardern’s Year of the Vaccination became her year of vacillation, that is until her mate ScoMo across the ditch scouted around his buddies abroad and got some additional vials of the stuff. –  Barry Soper

To use the word corruption is unchallengeable, when any government pays media outlets to propagandise the public — with the same outlets untruthfully claiming to be independent and trustworthy — while basically being bribed to follow a far-Left agenda. That this should happen in not (quite yet) a totalitarian régime, but in what was once thought of as a democracy, with a free press, is quite staggering.  

Ardern’s government is blatantly taking over the media, an important part of any plan to destroy a democracy. It is more than shameful for those at the top of media management to be accepting these bribes, with the inevitable resulting pressure on all journalists to conform. It is to the great credit of those few who are increasingly reluctant to do so –- but who are now at risk of losing their livelihoods.  – Amy Brooke

Xenophobia is, regrettably, not a new strain in the national psyche, more an endemic seasonal virus that has circulated since time immemorial. However, the prevailing attitude, expressed through policy and the rhetoric of our leaders, to New Zealanders outside the border – ranging from frosty indifference to outright hostility – is very much a new development.Ben Thomas

However, since Covid, New Zealanders’ circle of empathy seems to have been pulled tight, like a knot, around the territorial boundaries of the country.

New Zealanders caught outside, or the families of foreign visa holders here doing often essential work including nursing and teaching, feel very much like they are looking in. In some respects, the pandemic has made the country smaller. Our families, our co-workers’ families, our friends, now show up in the public discourse mainly as risks to be managed or, more likely, excluded. – Ben Thomas

In order for values to count as character, they have to endure in good times and bad. Is the New Zealand national identity we treasure a reflection of who we really are, or of the benign times we have lived through until now? With the imminent effects of climate change and the movement of mass refugees from the hell of Afghanistan under the Taliban, these are questions we may be answering soon. – Ben Thomas

Well, you can’t fight a war by hiding under your bed. Deluding itself about a low covid death count the government ignores the soaring suicide numbers, the numerous deaths through inability to access hospitals, the widespread depression as any GP or pharmacist will confirm and the huge toll in families split by the idiotic closed borders.

We look with envy at Europe and North American nations run by grown-ups who are getting on with life. Their covid death tolls are almost totally half-wits who for diverse reasons refuse to be vaccinated. Future historians will record the current government in scathing terms. They remind me of the last 3 years of the Muldoon government, denying reality and lacking the courage to confront a necessary new world order. – Bob Jones

So far, the Wellbeing Budgets have promised many things but I fail to see what they achieved. The Government’s obsession with “wellbeing” comes at the cost of abandoning economic growth and a relatively poor economic performance. – Dennis Wesselbaum

Looking back, the Wellbeing Budgets have never been anything other than a successful public relations exercise.

Sadly, they all fall short of effectively supporting important areas like education (from kindergarten to universities), health, research, housing, and infrastructure and they abandon fostering economic growth.

There is nothing left from the initial worldwide hype around the Wellbeing Budgets. The Ardern-led governments have wasted the chances they had to make New Zealand stronger in the future and missed their election and budget targets.

It would be much better if the Government would stop looking beyond GDP and instead look at developing a proper economic growth strategy. After all, jobs earning decent wages are the foundation of wellbeing. – Dennis Wesselbaum

As time drags on, more and more travel begins to look essential. Cancelling an annual trip home from Oz or the UK is one thing, but a whole generation of overseas Kiwis now face a future disconnected from their friends and families, never knowing their nieces and nephews. After a few years of being grounded, holidays to visit family become essential travel too.

All of this is to say that the Government will fast run out of excuses for why its ministers and officials should travel, while the rest of the country is more or less grounded.Thomas Coughlan

There’s no vaccine against stupidity. James Rifi

It is the way you conduct yourself and if there is a lie, you speak against it. If you see injustice, you try and stop it. If you can’t do it by your action, you do it by your words. This is my life, that’s the way I do thingsJames Rifi

And I want to thank – that fellow Down Under. Thank you, Mr Prime Minister. Appreciate it, pal. – Joe Biden

The costs of Covid-19 extend well beyond the illness itself to continuing impacts of both the virus and our response to it on the rest of the health system, mental health and well-being, and family ties. Sadly, such impacts extend to family violence and economic insecurity as well as ongoing and negative effects on our economy, education, innovation opportunities, international business relationships, and our diplomatic footprint.Sir Peter Gluckman

When will such high vaccination rates allow the balance to tilt from efforts to exclude the virus to a different management strategy?  This cannot be far away. But it too has costs and risks, especially for those who are not vaccinated. Are incentives now needed to get as many as possible of the hesitant and resistant vaccinated? What else needs to be in place? Do we need both internal and external vaccine passports (with strong legal protections on how they would be used)? Should widespread use of rapid self-testing – now well used in Europe – be adopted? Should employers be able to require masks and/or vaccines, and does that need legislative protection?  These questions, which all have ethical and “social licence” dimensions, go hand in hand with the more obvious ones of border triage, rapid testing at the border, modified entry management, ensuring adequate health facilities, and location of quarantine facilities.

Neither science nor politics alone can answer such equations. Whatever choices Government makes will involve trade-offs and time-sensitive decisions. These will necessarily be made in the face of incomplete knowledge and contestable perspectives and values from different elements of our community. “Social licence” and trust will be necessary for whichever choices are made. – Sir Peter Gluckman

 Fear can undermine democracy. Parliament’s 2020 Epidemic Response Committee – a truly democratic innovation receiving much international interest – played a major role through its transparency, contributing to broad public acceptance of trade-offs required in following the elimination route. Similar levels of truth and transparency will be key for future choices. The Government’s challenge is to ensure trust in the pragmatic decisions it must soon make.Sir Peter Gluckman

It is much more challenging to ‘open up’ than ‘close down’. In crisis and risk management, the concept of the ‘Red Team’ has emerged. Comprising a group of experienced and skilled people who have no responsibility for managing the crisis but have access to the same data as those who are, it can ask tough questions of the decision-makers, in real time. Given the complexities and the need to get beyond political point-scoring, trust could be enhanced for our ‘team of five million’ through using such a process. After all, we want our Government to continue to do the best job possible on all our behalf. – Sir Peter Gluckman

In a world of fully vaccinated people, the virus would still cause harm, but at a much lower level. By then, it would have become one of many other dangers such as drowning, falling from ladders, or getting injured in a traffic accident.

Society accepts such risks, even when they can theoretically be avoided, not least because a “zero-harm” approach would be prohibitively expensive. For example, the idea of lighting all country roads, imposing a general 30 km/h speed limit, and only allowing five-star rated cars is absurd. Sure, it would reduce the road toll. But it would also defeat the purpose of promoting mobility. –  Oliver Hartwich 

If we had never gone down the path of Covid elimination, we would regard the virus in just the way as we think of road accidents. Sure, nobody likes accidents, but we would not go to extremes to avoid them. Similarly, while no one wants to get sick or die from Covid, we would not surrender our lives to achieve that aim.

However, this is where our “sunk-cost fallacy”kicks in. Having spent billions on elimination, for many people, the calculus looks different. Even minor health hazards associated with Covid now appear to be unbearable. After all the sacrifices we have made, why should we accept any illness or death in our community? Can’t we just stay with “Zero Covid” forever?   –  Oliver Hartwich 

New Zealanders may view the phrase “learn to live with the virus” as cynical since some will die from it.

But to the English and the Danes, such a connotation does not exist. Because the virus was never eradicated in either country, people have always died from it.

Neither had England and Denmark invested vast amounts and efforts into the goal of elimination. There are no “sunk costs” they now believe they need to protect. As a result, both the English and the Danes can treat the virus as an everyday health risk.Oliver Hartwich 

New Zealand will hopefully reach the same immunisation rates as England and Denmark in time. Perhaps we will get even higher since our compliant population may yield higher vaccination participation than other countries.

And (here is hoping), we will soon realise that our hospital system requires an upgrade (not just to deal with Covid). Having more capacity will also enable us to cope with outbreaks.  –  Oliver Hartwich 

How has the Talibanization of Western mentalities happened? How is it that so many young people have now adapted Henry Ford’s great dictum (to change briefly the source of inspiration of young intellectuals), that you can have any color you like so long as it’s black, to matters of opinion, such that none other than the sanctioned one may get a hearing? How is it that the Taliban’s example in destroying the statues in Bamiyan was so soon copied by the students in those madrassas of the West known as universities? 

The most obvious explanation is the expansion of tertiary education beyond the capacity of those who receive it to derive any mental, spiritual, or even vocational benefit from it. Far from increasing their mental sophistication, this education severely limits it. The numbers following courses in the so-called humanities and social sciences exploded since the 1960s, with the inevitable hollowing out of what a university education meant. All that they are left with is a distorting lens through which to view the world and focus their anger.Theodore Dalrymple

It is true that a deception has been practiced on them: In large part, they have been tricked into indebting themselves to pay for their own unemployment. Politicians whose brains are composed of a combination of those nerve centers that exist in lizards’ nervous systems and tinsel encouraged ever-increasing proportions of young people to attend university in the way that the Soviet Union in its propaganda used to boast about ever-increasing production of pig iron. In a world in which procedural outcomes is much more important than real outcomes, where governments set targets and bureaucrats arrange to meet them, usually by legerdemain, it matters not that the students left university worse educated than when they entered. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is impossible to put a precise date on a social process such as the degradation of our educational system (other than, of course, the day Eve gave the apple to Adam), but it has now continued for so long that many of the university teachers themselves are just as indoctrinated as the students they indoctrinate. In art schools there cannot be a return to teaching such skills as drawing because the teachers themselves were never taught them and therefore cannot teach them in their turn. The best they can do is denigrate them as retrograde or reactionary. 

The Taliban have a ministry for the suppression of vice and the promotion (or imposition) of virtue. I think that they could find many suitable civil servants—and no doubt executioners—in our universities. We produce them, in fact, by the thousands. Of course, there are some slight differences: The Taliban want women to have as many children as possible, while our students are so anxious about the fate of the planet that they think it immoral to bring children into the world.Theodore Dalrymple

People who take risks and are prepared to have a go have made this country what it is, and their energy and courage will take it further still.

Which is one reason why the impacts of these lockdowns trouble me so much. The impact on the people who own so many businesses prevented from operating, who are Kiwis just like you and me, is more immense than it is for most.

If you are in a government job, work for a big corporate that shuffles data for a living, or in the professions, lockdown has been a pain and it has certainly cramped your style, but your income keeps coming in the door. For these people it doesn’t.  – Steven Joyce

Maybe it is hard to imagine if you have never been there. Taking responsibility for paying the rent, the power bill, and all your suppliers, whether or not you have customers or revenue coming through the door.

To feel personally responsible for the incomes of your staff, and for their families’ wellbeing. To have to call the bank to ask for a bigger loan or overdraft, or a bigger mortgage because your house is the only collateral the bank will take.

To postpone your dreams five years or abandon them completely after years of hard work, because that’s how far these lockdowns have set you back.Steven Joyce

The powers that be have reactivated the Covid wage subsidy and that’s good, as far as it goes. But it was always intended as a Band-Aid to keep workers attached to their place of employment.

It doesn’t cover the rent, the rates, the electricity, the HP on the equipment, the vehicle lease, or the spoilt food. And if that wasn’t enough there are new headaches.

The doubling of paid sick leave in July this year, the big annual hikes in the minimum wage you must pay for your newest workers, and the post-Covid prospect of your wage bill and conditions being set in far off Wellington by people that have never set foot in a shop in Dargaville, Palmerston North, or Timaru. – Steven Joyce

The arbitrary pettiness of the lockdown rules drive some business owners bonkers. The small food shops that can’t open while supermarkets can, ostensibly because their public health systems won’t be robust enough.

Of course we trust them to sell perishable food at other times. Or the arbitrary restrictions on the number of people in your cafe in towns that haven’t had Covid for months and months.

One extraordinary example of bureaucratic silliness this week was the news seasonal fruit-pickers from Covid-free countries (note that bit) will no longer be allowed to enter New Zealand without quarantine as had been planned, ostensibly because of Delta.  – Steven Joyce

It is ironic for a country that has been trying to diversify its exports for 30 years that the only exporters able to operate their businesses over lockdown are our primary industries.

The rest of us sail serenely along in our bubbles. We’ve inflated our economy so much with debt and printed money the people in economic pain are almost completely invisible to us.

We have a zero tolerance for Covid health casualties, but not so much for the economic casualties.  – Steven Joyce

The small businesses, the tiny businesses, and the niche exporters, are all carrying a massive share of the cost of this pandemic. That needs to be acknowledged and responded to more by everyone else, from the Beehive down.

We all didn’t choose to have the pandemic disrupt our lives. But these people are paying in a far more brutal and long-lasting way than most.  – Steven Joyce

We’ve had our moments … but negativity just feeds negativity. We’re in a position it’s not going to wipe us out and it’s not going to be our worst year. We’ve got to remain positive and carry on. – Ian Riddell

You genuinely want people to be blessed by your flowers. People buy them for themselves to cheer them up, they give flowers away to cheer up other people. All that cheer got left here.Ian Riddell

Although she is not a daughter by blood, she is a daughter of my heart now. – Mr “Smith”

Oranga Tamariki is broken. You can’t fix an organisation that has fallen into such depravity that Judge Peter Callinicos exposed. It won’t be, of course. It will continue to damage families for many decades to come; driven by ideology and unchastised by this rebuke.

But for the moment, we should take a moment to appreciate that we have decent, bold and courageous people such as these successful caregivers who were prepared to make a stand for the daughter of their heart. They are the heroes of this story. I wish them and Moana all the best. Damien Grant

Murder is carried out by uneducated thugs with a lump of wood or an illegal firearm (weren’t they all handed in?). It’s carried out by psychotically violent men over perceived wrongs or a botched drug deal. It’s messy and nasty and leaves families shattered. Dead bodies don’t lie peacefully on a deep pile carpet in a perfectly manicured room; they bleed out on the front lawn, or into the gutter near a smashed bottle while other drunks continue fighting around them.

That’s where real murder lives; the gutter. There’s nothing fancy about it. Children get killed by those who should be protecting them. It’s gutting and mind-boggling and never seems to stop. – Angus McLean

It is not surprising, then, that one’s opinion on matters social and political has become for a considerable part of the population the measure of virtue. If you have the right opinions you are good; if you have the wrong ones you are bad. Nuance itself becomes suspect, as it is in a tabloid newspaper, for doubt is treachery and nuance is the means by which bad opinions make their comeback. In this atmosphere, people of differing opinions find it difficult to tolerate each other’s presence in a room: the only way to avoid open conflict is either to avoid certain persons or certain subjects. Where opinion is virtue, disagreement amounts to accusation of vice. – Anthony Daniels

The extreme importance now given to opinion (by contrast with conduct) in the estimation of a person’s character has certain consequences. This is not to say that in the past a person’s opinions played no part in such an assessment, and no doubt there are some opinions so extreme or vicious, for example that some whole population should be mercilessly wiped out, that in any day and age one would hesitate to associate with someone who held them. But before, even when someone held an opinion that we considered very bad, we still also assessed the degree of seriousness with which he held it, the degree to which it was purely theoretical, the importance it played in his overall mental life. The holding of such an opinion would not redound to his credit, but if lightly held and with no likely effect on his actual behavior, it would detract only slightly from our view of him. He might still be a good man, albeit one with a quirk, a mental blind spot. – Anthony Daniels

For one thing, the elevation of the moral importance of opinion changes the locus of a person’s moral concern from that over which he has most control, namely how he behaves himself, to that over which he has almost no personal control. He becomes a Mrs. Jellyby who, it will be remembered, was extremely concerned about the fate of children thousands of miles away in Africa but completely neglected her own children right under her own eyes, in her house in London. –Anthony Daniels

The overemphasis on opinion as the main or only determinant of a person’s moral character thus has the effect of promoting irrationalism, and all argument becomes in effect ad hominem. If a person holds one opinion, he is good; if another, he is bad. Everything is decided in advance by means of moral dichotomy. Nuance disappears. –Anthony Daniels

There is a positive-feedback mechanism built into opinion as the measure of virtue, for if it is virtuous to espouse a particular opinion, it is even more virtuous to espouse a more extreme or generalized version of it. It then becomes morally impermissible for a person to hold the relatively moderate opinion; he is denounced with the peculiar venom that the orthodox reserve for heretics. When J. K. Rowling, a feminist once in good odor with the morally self-anointed, delivered herself of an opinion couched in moderate terms stating something so obvious that it will one day (I hope) astonish future social or cultural historians that it needed saying at all, namely that a transsexual woman is not a woman simpliciter, she was turned upon viciously, including by those who owed their great fortunes to her—or at least to her work. She had committed the cardinal sin in a world of opinion as the criterion of virtue of not having realized that the moral caravan had moved on. How easily sheep become goats! Anthony Daniels

 

Taking opinion as the hallmark of virtue has other effects besides provoking dichotomization, bad temper, and the exertion of a ratchet effect in the direction of ever more extreme and absurd ideas. It tends to limit the imagination, moral and otherwise. For example, once something tangible is declared to be a human right, which no decent person can thenceforth question or deny on pain of excommunication by the virtuous, the good procured by the exercise of that right ceases to be a good for any other reason than that it is a right. The recipient has no reason to feel grateful for what he receives, because it was his right to receive it, though he may, of course, feel rightfully aggrieved if he does not receive it. A United Nations rapporteur recently condemned New Zealand for its breach of human rights because it did not provide decent housing for all its citizens (and other inhabitants); rents were expensive and there was overcrowding as well as some homelessness. The New Zealand government, which had committed itself to the view that there was a human right to decent housing, meekly promised to try to do better. It had not promised to treat housing as if it were a human right, but to treat it as a right itself; it was therefore skewered by its own supposed virtue. –Anthony Daniels

The supposed moral quality of the objector trumps the possible validity of his objections, which therefore do not have to be considered. Far from the objector lacking imagination, however, it is the proponent of the human right who lacks it: he fails even to try to imagine what the consequences of what he advocates might be. Words are the money of fools, no doubt, but also of people who desire unlimited powers of interference in the lives of others. Anthony Daniels

The importance accorded to opinion—correct opinion, of course—as the criterion of virtue has another strange effect, besides increasing intolerance and limiting imagination, for it conduces both to a new dictatorial puritanism and a new libertinism whose equilibrium is forever unstable. –Anthony Daniels

Even in my childhood, we used frequently to recite the old proverb in response to an intended insult, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” No more: in a world in which opinion is the measure of Man, words are poison, dagger, Kalashnikov, hand grenade, and atomic bomb, and no one now gains a reputation for moral uprightness who does not sift the words of others for the wickedness they may contain.

No one could possibly deny the great importance of words and opinions in human life, of course, or their power to give offense and even to provoke violence. Words and opinions may inspire people either to the best or the worst acts, but we do not usually absolve people of their responsibility, or fail to praise or blame them, on the grounds that they were inspired or influenced by the words of others. –Anthony Daniels

Where opinion is virtue, the strength of offense taken is a sign of commitment to virtue, which then sets up a type of arms race of moral exhibitionism, in which my offense taken at something must be greater than yours because only thus can I prove my moral superiority over you. Shrillness then becomes a token of depth of feeling, and no one can feel anything who does not parade his outrage in public. – Anthony Daniels

The danger comes when the most dubious, even fatuous, social theories and reforms in the name of virtue become the cynosure of the moral life of a large and influential sector of society, namely the intelligentsia that is ultimately the determinant of a modern society’s history. This is so even, or perhaps especially, when the intelligentsia in question is ignorant, foolish, grasping, power-hungry, and unrealistic.

The effect, if not the purpose, of the overemphasis on opinion as the whole of virtue is both to liberate and to control. The liberation—from restraint on personal conduct—is for the persons with the right opinions; the control is for, and over, the rest of society. The intelligentsia is thus like an aristocracy, but without the noblesse obligeor the good taste that to some extent justified the aristocracy. – Anthony Daniels

That so many Aucklanders have been going to work over the last month underlines that lockdown is largely a middle-class phenomenon. While white collar workers get to work from home or pretend to, those in healthcare, social services, agriculture, forestry, fishing, manufacturing, distribution and retail have been showing up at their workplaces right through. Across the country, over 500,000 essential workers kept the real economy going through the 2020 and 2021 national lockdowns. We should applaud them. – Matthew Hooton 

One thing is inarguable: the vaccine works. It may not stop all Covid transmission, but it stops it from killing you or your loved ones, or you or them getting very sick. According to the Ministry of Health, of the 1071 people who tested positive for Covid, 83 per cent were entirely unvaccinated and just 3 per cent fully vaccinated more than two weeks earlier. Any political pollster or health researcher will tell you that legitimate conclusions can be drawn from a sample size of over 1000.Matthew Hooton 

The data shows that not a single person who had had even their first jab more than two weeks earlier wound up in an intensive care unit (ICU). Not a single person who was fully vaccinated more than two weeks earlier even ended up in hospital, and just one whose second dose had been administered in the previous two weeks had to be admitted to an ordinary ward.

In contrast, if you are unvaccinated and over age 11, the data from the outbreak suggests you have a 13 per cent chance of being hospitalised, and nearly a 3 per cent chance of dying or ending up in ICU. – Matthew Hooton

It’s official. The Government’s impossible Covid elimination strategy has been scrapped, although don’t expect it to admit to that. Just like it would never accept the alert level 4 lockdown in Auckland hasn’t been anything but a raging success. – Barry Soper 

This lockdown isn’t working.  It never was.  We’ve had 8 people turn up at Middlemore with no idea where they got covid, it’s cropped up in the mongrel mob who aren’t known for obedience to the law, it’s been exported over the Auckland border.

One of the strictest lockdowns in the world, couldn’t’ get us back to zero.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

It is awful having to constantly tell the Government what they’ve done wrong, but then again someone has to do it, that’s why it’s called leader of the opposition, not leader of the cheerleaders. – Judith Collins

The Government don’t want a points system it seems for the simple reason, or excuse, that’s it too complicated. As in too complicated for them to work out how to do it.

Obviously, there is queue from the tech sector who would solve it by Thursday. So, the system is held hostage to a degree by a government that hasn’t got the slightest aspirational gene in its makeup. Nor, tragically, do they have the wherewithal to recognise that and ask for help.

So, for the foreseeable, tens of thousands of New Zealanders are stuck, business is hamstrung, funerals are missed, and sports people can’t make a living. There’s a massive queue of misery and desperation.

Of all the cock ups of this pandemic, behind the abject failure of an urgent vaccine rollout, MIQ would be the biggest. Their fix? A foe lobby followed by a numerical conformation of how screwed you are when you enter. – Mike Hosking

But here it would appear that while New Zealanders are renown for their “can do” approach, our bureaucracy’s response is “can’t”. – Fran O’Sullivan

 The only urgency we’ve seen for months is an enthusiasm to lock down our country, lock up our people and lock out our citizens who are overseas. – John Key

Some people might like to continue the North Korean option. I am not one of them. Public health experts and politicians have done a good job of making the public fearful, and therefore willing to accept multiple restrictions on their civil liberties which are disproportionate to the risk of them contracting Covid.

Another problem with the hermit kingdom model is that you have to believe the Government can go on borrowing a billion dollars every week to disguise that we are no longer making our way in the world. – John Key

A lottery is not a public policy. It’s a national embarrassment. Whether you get to see your grandchild, or your dying mother, or your sister’s wedding, depends on whether or not your number comes up. This is a lottery that is gambling with people’s families and futures. John Key

Meanwhile, those brave New Zealanders who have started or bought a small business are sleepless with worry – as are their workers – because lockdowns are an indiscriminate tool that stops commerce as effectively as it stops Covid. The true harm is being concealed by an economy propped up by borrowing. – John Key

For those who say it’s too hard, or too risky I ask this: one day, when the largest part of the Minister of Finance’s Budget pays only the interest on the debt we are racking up now, and you can’t have the latest cancer drugs, or more police, because New Zealand can’t afford them, what will you think?

Will you wish that in 2021 the Government had acted with the urgency and creativity that Nasa showed when suddenly having to rethink its approach to the Apollo 13 mission? Nasa succeeded. It proved that to get a different outcome, you need a different strategy. John Key

The current setting is to vaccinate as many people as we can while keeping the virus at bay. If we succeed, by this time next year we will have a population with minimal exposure to Covid and with declining vaccine effectiveness.

Why would we do that?

Isn’t this like putting on a raincoat and then staying indoors in case it rains? There isn’t much point in teaching celibacy whilst handing out prophylactics. If we are aiming for 90 per cent vaccine coverage, the latest ad hoc policy in 18 months of ad hoc policy, perhaps the state would care to explain what is going to change if we get there. – Damien Grant

 In an endless series of good bureaucratic intentions creating bad outcomes, we vaccinated the elderly and vulnerable first. They are now the most exposed to breakthrough infections, while the young and healthy have fresh protein spikes coursing through their bloodstreams.Damien Grant

At this point I don’t really care what the plan is, so long as I know what it is. I have a life I want to lead. I have a business that needs direction. I have a family that wants to enjoy the pleasures and joy that are still permitted. – Damien Grant

Behavioural experts say the pandemic has brought about a rise in xenophobia and nationalism, and could mean expat and domestic communities struggle to coalesce beyond the pandemic. The messaging around the “team of five million” could be to blame. –  Ashleigh Stewart

The anti-expat rhetoric started when the government pushed every expat out of the ‘team of five million. Messaging like that has fed the mob online to hurl insults shamelessly towards us. It feels like this resentment has been simmering away for a long time, and now it’s acceptable to scream to ‘close the borders’. Clint Heine

It’s not just that it’s a cruel and inhumane lottery that keeps families and friends and loved ones apart while the Wiggles are waved through; or that it’s cut us off from the rest of the world – or even that it has become a convenient excuse for kicking the can down the road on critical economic decisions.

No, the worst thing is that it seems to have fundamentally changed who we are.

We’ve gone from a nation of travellers and adventurers, to an inward looking and angry mob, cut off and isolated from the rest of the world, and fearful of “strangers” at the border, whether they’re foreigners, or fellow Kiwis rendered stateless by a pandemic that was none of their doing.

We pat ourselves on the back for getting through the first lockdown by being kind – then close our hearts when a dying man pleads for permission to die at home.

We tear down high-flyers who dared to pursue their dreams overseas, and tell them they’re no longer welcome in the country where they found their wings.

And we spit bile at people who want to come home for Christmas with their family, cheered on by the government, who it suits to paint expats as gadabouts and summer holidaymakers. As though wanting to be with family, or ageing parents, over Christmas is not a fundamental human desire.Tracy Watkins

But our success at keeping Covid out for so long has bred complacency.

Hospital ICUs are still critically understaffed and in no shape to cope with a wave of sick Covid patients; we’ve failed to implement rapid advances from overseas, like saliva testing or self-testing, and MIQ is still a hastily knocked-up system of modified hotels, the bulk of them in our most populous city, all but guaranteeing that any breach will have the worst possible outcome.

But questioning it has become akin to heresy – even though no-one is seriously advocating we abandon quarantine and testing as the cornerstone of any new system, especially not with the parlous state of our ICU system, and low rates of vaccination. – Tracy Watkins

There has been no shortage of ideas from New Zealand’s most innovative thinkers on how to improve the system, while still keeping people safe.

But those ideas all go seem to go nowhere. Why? They keep hitting the same wall of bureaucratic and government inertia. There is no political will to make MIQ work better – and that’s because there is no public appetite to open the tap, even with safeguards.

Whenever change is proposed, or the Government’s models questioned, an angry mob steps in to shout it down as treason.

Whatever happened to the number 8 wire Kiwi? Or are they all stranded overseas? – Tracy Watkins

Our world is about to be split into two very definitive tribes; those who have the vaccine and those who don’t. Those who have the jab won’t enjoy the freedoms of the past, but they will be able to travel, while those who don’t have it won’t be able to. That may well become the ultimate decider for the vaccine-hesitant. It may be “my body, my choice” when it comes to vaccination, but only if you can enjoy the freedom that everyone else does. – Janet Wilson

What’s really alarming with this is, there has been millions of dollars spent on consultants and what have we really got? We’ve basically shown Government doesn’t understand how local councils operate. Sam MacDonald

Nonetheless, New Zealanders continued to excel at home and globally in disproportionately large numbers. . . So how is it we have become willing lapdogs, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? Hovering around daily briefings in the hope our captors will throw us a bone?- Paul Henry

Regardless of whether the news is good or bad, we feel comforted that those who know what’s best for us keep us from harm’s way. Protecting us from the violation that freedom would otherwise bring. We listen for the responses to banal questions that all but the most ignorant citizen would already be able to answer.

In short, we have for the most part surrendered our lives through fear. We accept that our own citizens should be forced into lotteries in order to come home from their adventures and that we may well be refused a seat next to a dying parent. – Paul Henry

What the world did not know then – but has since found out – is New Zealand had moved into phase two of its unofficial Covid strategy, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We went hard and fast on borrowing. And borrowing is fine as long as you borrow to invest. But not us.

Did we use our hard-won, Covid-free months – almost a year – to invest in health infrastructure, both hardware and staffing? No.

Did we vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate? No.

Did we invest in money-making initiatives that exploited our Covid-free status? No.  – Paul Henry

We have squandered our leading edge for the lack of a plan. And having lost the lead we undoubtedly had, we are now racing to the back of the pack.

Our economic policy is akin to a reverse mortgage, as we live quite well whilst building debt. Unfortunately, in order to be sound, reverse mortgages require that you die quite soon.

Maybe that’s the third phase of our strategy. Paul Henry

The government has an ideology-driven desire for centralised bureaucratic control. They do not care if it divorces providers from the communities they are supposed to serve and reduces accountability. In doing so they are taking the opportunity to indulge a sectional political constituency at the expense of the principles of democracy and the community. – Gray Judd

Bloody Friday tragically saw 1500 sheep sacrificed in protest. Forty-three years on, and the boot is on the other foot. It’s the farmers themselves who don’t want to be sacrificial lambs on the altar of Ministers David Parker and James Shaw. Jamie Mackay

So add this voice of reason to that of Sir John Key’s, to Sir Ian Taylor’s, to Rob Fyfe’s – these are not people who are mad granny killers, who want to throw New Zealanders to the wolf of Covid.

They just see a government who does not seem to be able to pivot the way it has asked businesses to do, a government that is bereft of ideas, that is anything but transparent and that only knows one simplistic way to manage a crisis.

And that’s to shut everything down.   – Kerre McIvor

But Aucklanders, on the whole, don’t feel better about things.

I think many of us resented the latest lengthy lockdown and blamed the government for it.

We’ve more than done our bit as citizens and businesses and we’d come to the conclusion, by the end of this latest lockdown level 4, that it was pointless and dragging on. As is this level 3 we’re in right now. Why? And why was the South Island at an alert level at all?

Why restrict businesses now with such petty but costly barriers when privately the government has abandoned the Covid elimination strategy and has instead settled on managing the pandemic and keeping hospitalisation numbers down. They won’t admit this, of course, but look at their actions for confirmation. – Duncan Garner

Truth is, this government has to keep hospitalisation numbers down because our hospitals wouldn’t cope with a mass outbreak.

It’s this scenario that mostly keeps those running our pandemic response awake at night.

And it’s been made worse by the huge holes in staffing numbers and a lack of specialist staff. We never had enough ICU beds and when we went all those months Covid free last year, the government failed to build any meaningful increase in capacity in ICU. Just six new beds were created.

How was that ever acceptable to senior ministers and the prime minister? Did they push it? Did they ask questions? Did they even know? The best ministers keep their departments accountable and on task. If that’s happening regularly with this government, it’s not immediately obvious.- Duncan Garner

But, clearly, ‘being kind’ has waned as a phrase. We are rightly furious with the government’s vaccine debacle, which has left us vulnerable. It put cynical political spin ahead of telling the truth about its failure to secure enough vaccinations.

What’s worse is they positioned us as being at the front of a queue that it appears we were never in. It meant we relaxed and we all became complacent – led by a government who appeared to think the job was done. Celebrating daily zero cases was put before long-term planning.  Duncan Garner

The Covid cushion is losing its stuffing, lockdowns usually sees the party getting a sympathetic bump in the polls from a frightened, insecure public. But with one death in 1185 cases in the current outbreak it isn’t creating the climate of fear that they’ve relied on.  – Barry Soper

But neither the new nor the old system were sophisticated enough to prioritise those whose needs were greater or who had waited the longest. The emergency allocations are for a very limited group of people. For everybody else, the sorter doing the prioritising is Lady Luck. – Claire Trevett

Difficulty securing a spot in MIQ may indeed be “reasonably foreseeable” – but it should not be – or at least not beyond the Christmas rush – and not anymore.

It is a government created system and they are government created rules. The system does not allow people to book MIQ rooms months and months in advance, so long-term trip planning is impossible.

People have been forced to take a chance by the system itself – they should not be blamed when that system fails to deliver.

It has also been “reasonably foreseeable” that MIQ was not catering for the numbers it needed to for some time. –   Claire Trevett

The issue is not last year, or those who made it back. It is now, and those who cannot get back. –   Claire Trevett

Thus far, the Government and officials have always been able to muster up a lot of excuses for saying no: usually a shortage of the required health and security staff needed for MIQ facilities, or the inadequacy of ventilation or the space required.

But it did not find the same energy to find solutions for those problems or to work on refining ideas to make them workable.  –   Claire Trevett

Ardern said, when explaining why only businesspeople were being used for a trial of home isolation, it was because they had “skin in the game” so were less likely to try to sneak around the rules.

Businesspeople are not the only ones with skin in the game, Prime Minister. All of us do.

Fix it.  Claire Trevett

It’s a pretty sad day when you sit inside reading an article in a popular farming paper and it’s talking about carbon farming.

Who would have ever thought we could get paid for air? – Mike Firth

Picking and choosing when you listen to science is no way to treat people or their livelihoods, and hopefully people will see the charade for what it is. 

The elimination strategy they’ve fancifully been chasing will suddenly not be so important anymore; they’ll spin us a yarn about how it’s worked out just as they wanted it to, but the numbers will tell the real story. Kate Hawkesby

Labour governments typically have two standard responses to a political problem, or even the mere perception of one. They either throw vast amounts of money at it, or they create an unwieldy, centralised bureaucracy to give the impression something is being done. Sometimes it’s both, since these solutions often overlap. – Karl du Fresne

Once again a centralised, opaque governance structure will be created that will give grossly disproportionate power to unelected Maori, sweep away local representation and discard generations of local knowledge, investment and experience.

Arguably the most offensive aspect of Three Waters is its audacious dishonesty. Rather than solving a problem, the government has invented one. – Karl du Fresne

All this is all intended to create the illusion of decisive, meaningful action, but it’s merely the announcement of a plan that has yet to be formulated. It contains nothing substantive or concrete – not even any goals or targets (they’ll come later, presumably).  It will provide work for lots of highly paid consultants and hangers-on but do nothing in the short term to help people suffering from mental illness. In short, it’s a disgrace and a travesty. – Karl du Fresne

Responsible governments decide what needs to be done then work out what it’s likely to cost. But this one appears to work backwards, plucking a sum out of the air then wondering what to do with it. – Karl du Fresne

 


Quotes of the month

01/09/2021

I said, ‘I’m not an activist’. They said, ‘what are you?’ I thought, ‘what am I?’ Somebody that’s concerned about what’s happening to New Zealand, that’s all I am – Bryce McKenzie

This isn’t imagined. If you don’t know about it, we’d like you to try and find out. It’s general — people are hurting. – Bryce McKenzie

They are worried not about themselves as … [much as] what’s going to happen to their kids, their grandkids. The family farm, if we keep this up, is gone.

If New Zealand goes to corporate farming, does New Zealand really want family farms gone? They need to just have a good think about that. – Bryce McKenzie

We have never ever not offered a solution in everything we’ve stood for. We’re not against any of the stuff; we just think there’s a better way to treat everybody far better.

It all comes back to one thing: some of these regulations are unworkable – you cannot get around that. – Bryce McKenzie

There’s not enough hand sanitiser in the whole of Japan to clean that act up. That was just absolutely terrible. – Ruby Tui

What rain? Bring on the thunder, we’re at the Olympics, let’s be happy, let’s compete safely and peacefully, peace and love, love you guys.  – Ruby Tui

First off, I would like to stress that I fully support the transgender community, and that what I’m about to say doesn’t come from a place of rejection of this athlete’s identity.

I am aware that defining a legal frame for transgender participation in sports is very difficult since there is an infinite variety of situations, and that reaching an entirely satisfactory solution, from either side of the debate, is probably impossible.

However, anyone that has trained weightlifting at a high level knows this to be true in their bones: this particular situation is unfair to the sport and to the athletes.  – Anna Vanbellinghen

So why is it still a question whether two decades, from puberty to the age of 35, with the hormonal system of a man also would give an advantage [in competing against women]?

I understand that for sports authorities nothing is as simple as following your common sense, and that there are a lot of impracticalities when studying such a rare phenomenon, but for athletes the whole thing feels like a bad joke.

Life-changing opportunities are missed for some athletes – medals and Olympic qualifications – and we are powerless.

Of course, this debate is taking place in a broader context of discrimination against transgender people, and that is why the question is never free of ideology.

However, the extreme nature of this particular situation really demonstrates the need to set up a stricter legal framework for transgender inclusion in sports, and especially elite sports.

Because I do believe that everyone should have access to sports, but not at the expense of others.Anna Vanbellinghen

Pushing up wages without driving productivity just adds to inflation.

The cost of living becomes a race between prices and wages. History tells us that this is a race the poorest people always lose.

New Zealand faces a dangerous cycle of inflation in the next few years if we let this labour shortage roll on unaddressed.

It will push interest rates higher at a time when the mortgage debt burden is extreme for young homeowners.

Higher interest rates will also be a handbrake on business investment, putting another handbrake on hopes for boosting New Zealand’s productivity. – Liam Dann

We need a rare and difficult combination of bureaucratic competence combined with pragmatism and flexibility. Liam Dann

Criminalising things is not a good thing, it doesn’t get us anywhere. – Dame Sue Bagshaw

If anything, I’m even more determined we don’t lose our humanity through fear in this pandemic. We have at times. Our authorities have forced our elderly to go without company at the end of their lives. They’ve forced them to die without loved ones. They’ve forced their families to stand outside windows looking in, watching them die, unable to just hold their hands and say something like “mum it’s okay”. They’ve kept families from funerals. They’ve made rules that left a daughter to cry inside the MIQ fence as a mother’s hearse passes. A son resorted to going to court to force the Health Ministry to let him spend the last 36 hours of his dad’s life with him. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Somehow in this pandemic you and I and our families have been turned into numbers. Numbers in MIQ, numbers of Covid cases, numbers of deaths. My Ouma will be just another 1 added to South Africa’s Covid tally that then gets reported to the WHO.

But we are people, not numbers. We must balance risk with humanity. We can’t let the people who held our hands die without us holding their hands. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

New Zealanders returning after a few years abroad might wonder whether they’ve blundered into a parallel universe. A government that is pitifully thin on ministerial ability and experience is busy re-inventing the wheel, and doing it at such speed that the public has barely had time to catch its breath. To quote one seasoned political observer: ‘It seems like a hostile takeover of our country is underway and most people feel powerless to do anything about it’.

The most visible change might crudely be described as Maorification, much of it aggressively driven by activists of mixed Maori and European descent who appear to have disowned their problematic white colonial lineage. Self-identifying as Maori not only taps into a fashionable culture of grievance and victimism but enables them to exercise power and influence that would otherwise not be available to them.Karl du Fresne

 What has been framed as an idealistic commitment to the survival of journalism is, in other words, a cynical and opportunistic bid for control over the news media at a time when the industry is floundering. This is a government so shameless, or perhaps so convinced of its own untouchability, that it is brazenly buying the media’s compliance. – Karl du Fresne

The main reason centralisation fails is culture, “the way we do things around here”. A centralised organisation has to be command and control with rigid rules. It is a culture that crushes initiative and problem-solving. –  Richard Prebble

A university by its nature cannot have a prescribed view about the value of one idea or culture over another. Until recently, a university was an institution committed to free enquiry and rigorous debate. Indeed that was its raison d’etre when I was an undergraduate and graduate student. – Bruce Logan

Science by its very nature can never arrive at a consensus. Consensus is the language of politics, not science.

A university is not a church preaching revealed doctrine. It is an institution given to the support of scientific method; certainly in those faculties that have science in their name. If that is not the case, then the university should pack its bags and go home to the planet of the Wokerati.Bruce Logan

Precisely. Science is a universal tool because it rests on the universal truth that the world is an ordered place. Hypotheses can be imagined, experiments repeated and the findings
found to be true or false. – Bruce Logan

When the university fails to fulfil its traditional function it becomes an institution interested only in its own survival. Western culture loses its confidence. Truth and therefore justice is up for grabs and government policy becomes “the views of the university”. Māori and Pākehā share the common loss.Bruce Logan

But the reality is that countries far better prepared, and better equipped than us, have struggled to cope with the latest outbreaks.

So in the end, it will be down to us, and how we respond as individuals, that will make the difference – just as it did last time. – Tracy Watkins

This is a government that has been good at reacting to a crisis, but then useless at dealing with a strategic plan for the longer term. Mike Moore

Many advantages become ingrained. Subsequent hormone therapy may well take the edge off performance, but bones will always be stronger, muscle will not revert to the female level, nor will hearts and lungs shrink. It is hardly fair for someone who retains such advantages to compete against women. – Debbie Hayton

I largely think it’s because cookbooks are associated with the domestic sphere, and they’re associated with women,” she says. “Any books written specifically for a female audience are thought of as not very clever; written with lots of pictures and small words, so women with our small brains can understand them. It’s a bit like the genre formerly known as chick lit. You know, they’re pretty stories for ladies. Cookbooks are the same. – Lucy Corry

Whenever something is perceived to be for women, it very quickly gets perceived to be frivolous and something that you can make fun of and something of very low value. I’m just going to call that out as out-and-out classic, dirty old sexism.

You can’t on the one hand task 50 percent of society for centuries with feeding their families and make that part of their identity and then have a go at them when they buy books to help them do it and get some inspiration. – Claire Murdoch

I think cooking connects you to nature, because practically everything you might want to eat starts out as a seed or a spore, and it’s going to take weeks or months or sometimes years before it’s ready to harvest or be eaten. And it connects you to your own culture and other cultures; and it connects you to your family and friends. And it also connects you to your creativity. It’s a very nourishing thing.  Annabel Langbein

I think it is really difficult for lots of people to feel successful in their daily lives because of pressures and money and resources and all sorts of other things. But cooking is a very simple way to have a sense of ownership of your life; of sharing and connecting and feeling validated and useful. – Annabel Langbein

The answer as to why the government is moving so slowly on so many fronts, including the vaccine roll-out, is that it fundamentally doesn’t believe in incentives and the private sector’s ability to deliver. It has relied on bureaucrats and central planning, which isn’t working.  – Robert MacCulloch

Ministers should not be moaning about why things are not happening more quickly, and waiting for advice from officials. They should be making them happen. – Claire Trevett

I have never seen in my time, and I go back to Muldoon, a more lacklustre, aspiration-less, myopic, and isolationist government. –  Mike Hosking

Are we gonna have police in the church hall deciding whether people are saying the right things? That’s where this gets incredibly messy – David Seymour

We really do not want to go down the route of state intervention every time there are complex medical or wellbeing matters to be discussed in families.Simon Bridges

It is equally obvious that a cause can triumph without being good: it has only to inspire the belief that it is good and is worth fighting for. Indeed, a cause can be profoundly evil and triumph, at least in part through the strength of belief in it.

The lengths to which people go to promote a cause are often held up as some kind of evidence of the value of that cause, but they are nothing of the kind. People may go to great lengths to promote good causes, but those lengths are not in themselves evidence of goodness. After all, even Nazism had its martyrs whose deaths were exhibited as proof of righteousness. – Theodore Dalrymple

Everyone associated with the introduction of the RMA should be ashamed. Despite its worthy intentions, it was plainly naïve from the beginning about human nature and how people would respond to getting power to interfere in decisions on land use changes. A hostility to individual right to decide how one’s own property should best be used, without compensation from those who’d benefit from stopping change, was baked into the RMA. – Don Brash

There is no point in pretending to treat seriously a Bill that is little more than a series of conflicting aspirational claims, dressing up an intention to control future land uses by Ministerial and Planning Committee decree. – Don Brash

It has long been very obvious that environmental protection has been a spurious excuse for endless interference in routine land use decisions with little or no benefit for the natural environment. – Don Brash

The Bill is remarkable for omitting nearly everything that might end the damaging power of NIMBYs and planners, and the green idealists who have empowered them. The Bill contains more puffy slogans, lists of competing, unranked and contradictory purposes, goals and weasel words than the RMA. The lawyers, planners and other vested interest beneficiaries of the status quo rely on the powers they get from the naïve “principles” of the RMA. They will be even more confident of being able to exploit the regime foreshadowed by the Bill. – Don Brash

Ambiguity in law delivers power and profit to lawyers. lawyers notoriously resist normal cost disciplines. they believe that what they do is all about “justice” so that it is improper to demand that they trade off their rolls royce procedures for economy speed and certainty. they can be indifferent to the costs borne by the rest of the community. Don Brash

Are flip flops, false promises and knee jerk reactions good for us?

Well not if you want some stability and consistency from your leadership, some long term strategic management. I would’ve thought good leadership is about properly doing the work up front before you leap into announcements.

Costing and canvassing something to the hilt, before you throw out the press release and roll out the Minister. And then once you have your plan, sticking to it. – Kate Hawkesby

So what we’re seeing here, therefore, is less of a government governing, and more of a reactive popularity contest based on poll data.

Is that good solid leadership? Or is that just amateurs winging it?

Sadly I think it’s the latter. – Kate Hawkesby

What people hear from the government’s silence is: ‘We’re going to make some things that you say illegal but we’re not going to tell you which ones.’ And that’s the kind of uncertainty … that makes a lot of middle New Zealanders feel a little uncomfortable. – Ben Thomas

his government is full of people who don’t get it, who wouldn’t pass NCEA Economics Level 1, and most embarrassingly don’t seem to realise that saying this stuff out loud leads to 10 point drops in polls.Mike Hosking

So, what I’m saying is how can we possibly have pumped in billions of extra dollars, and it not appear to have made a difference? – Andrew Little

These organisations are not just “community support groups” or “surrogate families”. They aren’t “motorcycle clubs”. Or – as I like to say – they’re not “Rotary in Leather”. They are organised criminals.Judith Collins

My husband and I regularly talk to farmers and growers, young and old, involved in horticulture, cropping and livestock. Whether they are more traditional or progressive, the main frustration is not the “why” something should be done – everyone, bar a few stubborn ones, agree on our country’s environmental issues. It’s the “how” that they’re frustrated about.

The crux of it is that farmers feel they’re being made to be entirely responsible for reversing our environmental problems, in a comparatively very short space of time, with what they feel are unworkable solutions. – Nadia Lim

New Zealand is not a team of 5 million. New Zealand is a team of 6 million.

Rhetoric around a team of 5 million implies that the object of security is geographical New Zealand, as opposed to New Zealanders. It has created an ‘us and them’ mentality where Kiwis can simultaneously tut at nationalistic policies abroad while refusing to acknowledge the wall built around their own interests. The government’s responsibility is to its people – all its people.Guest at One Sock

We are all connected; kotahitanga, whakapapa, whanautanga and kaitiakitanga. The price of the situation at the border isn’t just economic, or even humanitarian – it’s our principles. We can choose to ‘be kind’ to some, but not all. We can choose to shut the gates to the village and leave our children and siblings outside. We can choose not to risk the many for the few. Most outside would understand this. But when but the government on our behalf chooses to make space for the rich, for profit-seekers, sportspeople and others to entertain us (Larry Page, 401 Dubai Expo attendees, Wallabies, the Wiggles, to name a few) we have declared what our priorities are, and what they are not.

Perhaps it is rash to presume the government is espousing compassion but pursuing profit with its management of the border. In that case, there is a fine line between caution and cowardice, just as there is between bravery and stupidity. But history teaches us that the outcomes of each are seldom a matter of deliberation, but principle.

One day the border will open and, like the rest of the world, we will have to learn to live with this virus. We will also have to live with the memory of how we treated each other. – Guest at One Sock

One of the most disappointing features of this era of late-stage capitalism is the moral cowardice of those running our civil institutions and their failure to uphold the values of a liberal capitalist democracy. –Damien Grant

Much good has come from this focus on the primacy of the shareholder. A firm succeeds by meeting the needs and desires of its customers and winning business over decades. A solvent, well-run business provides employment not only for its staff but those who toil for its suppliers, as well the positive externalities enjoyed by its customers and even a healthy bounty to the local tax authority. – Damien Grant

No longer are boards responsible for the dreary task of making an honest profit. Now they could be actors in the great game of state, using the capital and networks at their disposal to grandstand on the vital issues of the day.Damien Grant

Between the decision to rip up the rules on the gas market, to the difficulty consenting renewables projects, to the threat to build hydro storage at Lake Onslow, the market is simply responding to the signals that the Government is sending it. – Hamish Rutherford

The Government’s ban on new gas exploration and consequent destruction of the gas industry was a major contributor to the lack of gas. This will only get worse as fields rapidly run down. We should be enthusiastically drilling for gas, including shale gas in the North Island and the South Island.Bryan Leyland

The Maritime Union says its members are angry that they were put at risk by going on board a ship with Covid cases. Maybe I am the first to tell the union, the country is angry that its members have put everyone at risk by willfully refusing to be vaccinated.

The Maritime Union is affiliated to the Labour Party. Is this the reason ministers have not insisted port border workers be vaccinated? This is the fourth ship with Covid in a month.

Chris Hipkins, the Covid Response Minister, has been in politics all his life. He joined the Labour party as a schoolboy. You have to be highly political not to have acted on the Simpson/Roche report. Last weekend he was even denying the MIQ booking system is a failure. – Richard Prebble

The MIQ system is a shambles. The government’s Covid policy relies on luck. – Richard Prebble

The failure of education standards will prove to be a far greater catastrophe for New Zealand than Covid. Without the next generation of well-educated school leavers we are destined to be a failed state.

For Maori and Pacifica students, it is already a tragedy. The majority are leaving school after 16,000 hours of tuition unable to read or do math at a level required by the modern economy.- Richard Prebble

It is hard to learn if you are not at school. Paying state schools for their average daily attendance instead of the nominal roll would make attendance every school’s top priority.

The teachers’ unions would go nuts but educational achievement would improve immediately. – Richard Prebble

Will a future Labour government make a formal apology for the Ardern government’s failure to give today’s pupils a world class education? Hopefully there will not also need to an apology for leaving our ports wide open to Covid. – Richard Prebble

Governments work best when officials understand and are in sync with Ministers’ policy expectations. Ministers start to look shaky when they seem unable to impose their will on their respective departments, or when their public pronouncements begin to sound more and more like the bureaucratese officials can so quickly resort to, to cover inaction.Peter Dunne

Indeed, there are at least three other current examples where ministers seem to be struggling to get the response they want from public agencies for which they are responsible, or where they are starting to look no more than mouthpieces for their departments. – Peter Dunne

A less overworked and consequently more focused minister might well have questioned from the outset the wisdom of relying on the cumbersome and largely incompetent district health board structure, and the exclusion of other community resources, to deliver the vaccination programme with the rapidity and flexibility required, if New Zealand is to be in a position of safety where it can consider returning to somewhere near normality any time soon.

Similarly, Hipkins’ recent public frustration at the lack of response from officials to his request to look at new more patient-friendly Covid19 testing systems – like saliva based tests, for example – to replace the current intrusive nasal test is illustrative of a minister increasingly unable to get officials to implement his agenda, suggesting he is now working more at the officials’ behest than the Government’s intent.Peter Dunne

All this means New Zealand’s recovery from Covid-19 now rests more with the convenience of cautious bureaucrats than the insistence and any urgency of the Government. – Peter Dunne

Hipkins’ colleague, Immigration and Justice Minister Kris Faa’foi has, over recent weeks, almost destroyed any reputation for effectiveness he had built up during his first term as a minister. His weak handling of the hate speech and conversion therapy issues, and the extraordinary inconsistencies in the way migrant workers and their families are being treated during the pandemic have been astounding. Faa’foi, who is apparently keen to leave politics, looks increasingly uninterested, and out of touch with the major issues affecting his portfolios. His media performances on the hate speech and conversion therapy issues have given the impression of someone who neither understands the complexity of the issues involved, nor wants to get too heavily involved in clarifying some of the challenging issues being raised.Peter Dunne

Whatever the explanation, it is a sad day for New Zealand when free speech is considered to be politically risky. An institution that cannot deal with diversity of opinion is a priesthood; it has no right to call itself a university. – Martin Hanson

Claiming people are “hurt” as a rebuttal to another academic’s argument is surely at odds with what academics do — debate ideas logically in the hope of finding the truth. Why is it relevant that some people felt “hurt and dismay”? It is possible to be hurt and still wrong.Matt Heath

Instead of weaponising people’s hurt, we should encourage hurt people to concentrate on why they are hurt. Taking offence is a choice. Choosing not to be offended is a win-win. If your opposition’s claims aren’t valid, they will be easy and fun to refute. If the claims are correct, even better, you have been gifted truth. In which case, the honourable emotion is gratitude. Either way, you don’t need to feel “hurt and dismay”.

Anger, hurt and dismay are gut reactions. You have to act fast before negative emotions take control of your words and actions. An excellent place to start is empathy. – Matt Heath

If you ask me (no one did), academics who hide from uncomfortable discussions by claiming they or others are “hurt” are taking the easy way out. Argue the points, not the emotions. If you disagree with me, come at me. I won’t get hurt. I’d love to be proven wrong; it would be the gift of knowledge. – Matt Heath

We heard as we travelled around the countryside submitters from far and wide. Many of the leaseholders came to speak to the select committee during our hearings in Wellington, in Queenstown, and in Christchurch, and they were amongst some of the most heartfelt submissions that I’ve heard in my time in Parliament. These were representatives of families who had farmed sensibly, pragmatically, with conservation and environmental values at their heart for several generations, and they were distraught, they were hurt, they were confused and unconvinced by the need or the desire for why this Government would want to treat them so harshly, so poorly, and so insultingly. – Scott Simpson

This seems to be a bill that is a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. High country farmers, the leaseholders, can feel rightly upset and angry with the moves that this Government is making, because at the heart of this piece of legislation, it undermines the generations of goodwill that have been established between the Crown and the leaseholders. It undermines the good work and the faith that they have invested, not only in terms of their emotion, their hard work, their blood, sweat, and toil but also millions, tens of millions, of dollars of improvement, enhancement, and careful, prudent management of the high country leases. I felt very, very sorry for those submitters who came and, in many cases, were emotional, understandably emotional, about the way that they were going to be treated under this piece of legislation, because at its core, it changes the relationship that they have entered into. – Scott Simpson

When the Prime Minister and the Health Minister go out of their way so obviously to avoid directly answering a question, it is a flashing sign they understand a truthful answer would be highly damaging. – Graham Adams

“Bi” is Latin for two. It therefore inevitably throws emphasis onto the differences, real and imagined, between Maori and Pakeha.

It’s this focus on separateness, rather than the things that draw us together, that has enabled a political culture to flourish in which people of Maori and Pakeha descent are increasingly at odds. – Karl du Fresne

On the contrary, silencing people will almost certainly magnify resentment due to the perception that only one side of the debate is allowed to be heard.

Besides, we should admit that underneath what appears to be crude anti-Maori rhetoric, there is a legitimate grievance: namely, a feeling that the political agenda is largely being driven by people who represent only 16.5 percent of the population, and that other voices are increasingly excluded from the public conversation – or at least that part of the conversation controlled by the media and the government. A situation in which a minority group is perceived as wielding disproportionate power and influence is plainly at odds with fundamental notions of democracy.Karl du Fresne

This doesn’t mean denying that many part-Maori people are disadvantaged in many respects, or prevent us from doing whatever we can to put them on the same footing as the Pakeha majority. As a Pakeha, I can’t see how it could possibly be in my interests for Maori to fail. On the contrary, we would all benefit if Maori health, education and imprisonment rates were improved.   But I don’t see how this can be achieved by setting up a potentially destructive contest between the two main population groups. – Karl du Fresne

The runners with Down Syndrome always bring tears to my eyes. I remember seeing a race in which the two leaders stopped to hug each other instead of crossing the finish line.

Heroic and magnanimous are the words that came to mind when I witnessed their elegant gesture of camaraderie.

Winners. Raising the bar of being wholly human. – Robert Fulghum

Calling someone a racist seems to be the first thing that comes to mind for certain parts of NZ when they don’t agree with something that is said. That’s actually the problem here. Hence my call for NZ to wake up to the danger of the insipid cancel culture that is doing a lot of damage to NZ. – Peter Williams

If a country wants to change its name officially it should do so in a democratic and measured way.  We all know very well why the political class don’t want such a democratic activity – they know what the result will most likely be. The majority will want to retain New Zealand. And there is a certain group of people in this country who are just not prepared to accept democratic outcomes anymore. And that is the most worrying aspect of this entire episode. Peter Williams

To adapt an old aphorism, everyone is an environmentalist until the lights go out. Then we discover a deeper and more immediate concern – a drop in our living standard. – John Roughan

Climate science does not have much luck. The latest dire report from the IPPC was scheduled for release on the same day we awoke to news of the previous night’s blackout in Hamilton and other places. The report duly came out on Tuesday. You might have heard people worrying about what it contained. I didn’t. I heard plenty of concern about the power cut.

The problem for governments that make it their overriding mission to tackle climate change is that most people will not lower their living standards. They will not and nor should they. Human ingenuity can do better. If a government gives climate change greater importance they will change the government. – John Roughan

I began to feel I was too Māori to be Pākehā and too Pākehā to be Māori. Not a proper one at least… If you can’t speak te reo you ain’t a real Māori. And real Māori are Labour. – Simon Bridges

Just as all Scots don’t wear kilts, we can’t put Māori over there as the ones with te reo, moko and marae. – Simon Bridges

I’ve been prone to look down on stay-at-home dads, because our conception of masculinity, whether we like it or not, is of breadwinners.

It’s some deep evolutionary thing. We’ve been hunting animals, and then we’re meant to be out working.

And as I say in the book, whilst I’m not the tough guy playing rugby, for me masculinity I have always associated with work. Long hours is what real men do.

But of course, in 2021, we need to be clear that a real man can be a guy who’s at home with his children while his partner is out as the breadwinner. And I’m glad I’ve woken up to that reality. – Simon Bridges

I’m not gonna suggest that there’s been no moments in my life where the gamesmanship has meant I’ve done something. But if that’s all it is, that’s a real problem,” he says.

“We’ve got this narrow political culture where Red and Blue are actually pretty similar. They’re all professionals.-  Simon Bridges

I could spend a long time trying to do something about it. But no, that would feel like a betrayal of who I am. And in a world where identity and authenticity are such big things, it just wouldn’t be any of that. – Simon Bridges

New Zealand should be very concerned about the possibility that a major event occurs and we simply can’t scramble our Defence Force quick enough; really highly professional people, well trained, have always responded well in the past.

But at the moment … there’s a real shortfall if something was to happen in the Pacific, or further afield that they need to respond to – Chris Penk

Rimmington has correctly analysed that Labour will happily waste $10 million on a train no one uses, but National would not regard $10 million for 30 commuters as sensible spending. – David Farrar

The Green Party stands for many things, a great many things indeed, some of them real, some of them quite fanciful and yet wonderfully appealing in their innocence, but one thing we won’t tolerate is a painting of someone who galvanised a nation in the fight against the Nazi regime and the threat it posed to democracy, freedom, and, you know, life. – Steve Braunias

So many things that probably could have got to me and should have got to me, didn’t get to me. That really got to me, the accent stuff. . . I do think that the book will, in that portion, stop it. I reckon media will read that and appreciate it’s a pretty narrow, parochial snobbism – that if they’re worried about gender and race and all the other things, which they should be, they should be about that as well.Simon Bridges

I realised, getting vaccinated was not actually exclusively about me. It’s actually about those in our community who’re vulnerable and immune compromised, and how would I feel if I passed it onto them? Also, it’s a collective effort to help our country get back into a connected functioning part of the world. We cannot remain an isolated hermit kingdom forever. – Kate Hawkesby

Now I understand being lean isn’t a priority, being strong is,” Donoghue says. “It doesn’t matter what I sit at on the scales. It’s opened us up to understand it’s not about a number but more about a good feeling, knowing we’re fuelling well. – Brooke Donoghue

So we changed the wording. Where we would usually say ‘If you don’t fuel enough, this is the result’, instead every communication became ‘If you fuel according to the work you’re doing, this is the result you’ll get’. It was an excellent approach to behaviour change.Christel Dunshea-Mooij 

Ideal race weights were really a proxy in the past for being healthy and in a good position. You heard stories that ‘leaner is better’. But we’ve got better insight now, so we don’t use those terms. – James Coote

It used to be you ate less to stay a lightweight. But to be able to see I could eat a lot more and then train harder – and stay at the same weight – was eye-opening. It made a huge difference to the way I trained, because I could work harder. – Jackie Kiddle

Being strong has often been seen as a masculine thing in sport. But in rowing, throughout our athletes and staff, the push to be stronger is a positive thing for women too.

As a female athlete, I want to be strong, so I’ve made some massive gains in the gym. I can see my strength performance getting better as well. Our physiologist helped us change the way we look at ourselves. Jackie Kiddle

I’d like to see this support expanded down to high school girls, to take away the stereotypes of strength being masculine, or not eating because you need to look a certain way.

We want to be good role models when it comes to female health. To show girls at high schools that you can row and be healthy – Jackie Kiddle

The surest way to a space in MIQ, for the past 16 months, has been political influence. Those with political influence get spaces. Those without it are forced into a broken room booking system. Getting a room through that broken system seems to be a full-time job all on its own: some would-be travellers have even hired people to sit at a computer and hit the refresh button, all day long, on their behalf.

But for those with political pull, things are a bit easier.- Eric Crampton

The rules ensure that those with political pull can find a way through. Longstanding insiders have political pull. More recent migrants who have not seen their families for a year-and-a-half do not.

The system seems corrupt – but not in any bribe-taking sense. Instead, it is corrupt in what seems a particularly Kiwi sense of the term. No money changes hands. No officials or ministers are bribed. None need to be. The corruption instead is baked into the rules of the system providing a fast-track for those with political pull.

Officials follow the rules of a game that was rigged from the outset.Eric Crampton

Political influence determines who gets fast-tracked entry through MIQ, who is denied any access to the MIQ system, and who is relegated to a broken booking system where the rooms are officially free but come at terrible cost.

The cost of a free room is the time spent trying to secure a space – which can be weeks of dedicated effort. It also includes the terrible uncertainty faced by everyone who fears a sudden turn of events could require them to travel, but that that travel would prove impossible. If you do not have pull, there are currently no rooms available through November.

For many people desperate to rejoin their families, the real price of entry is infinite: there is simply no way they can enter, because they do not have the required political pull. – Eric Crampton

It has been considered unfair for prices to have any role in allocating scarce MIQ spaces. But allocating spaces by political influence and a broken booking system has been worse. If MIQ will be required, for at least some travellers, even after the vaccine roll-out, the Government needs to stop allocating scarce spaces through the aristocracy of pull.Eric Crampton

Some words, in their modern usages, either invite lies or are in themselves implicit lies. One such word, of course, is diversity. Another is inclusion. Just as the Ministry of Love in Nineteen Eighty-Four was responsible for repression and torture, so the word diversity promotes the imposition of uniformity and inclusion promotes exclusion.  – Theodore Dalrymple

No doubt sheer cowardice had much to do with it, for cowardice is often the midwife of lies. Theodore Dalrymple

We are about to witness one of the worst tragedies for women and girls in modern history. From now on, once more, young girls, pre-teens, will be married off too much older men, often enough with multiple wives. Young girls won’t be allowed to go to school, they won’t be allowed to learn to read and write, let alone sing, they won’t be allowed to practice most careers, they won’t be allowed to go the bazaar without the permission, and generally the presence, of their controlling male relative. – Greg Sheridan 

Te Huia is doomed to be yet another spectacular fail from this government, but they have too much political capital at risk to admit it. – Frank Newman

In recent years with the public renaissance of Māori culture, most public events will have a religious dimension in a Māori prayer or karakia. I love this for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it brings some life and culture to our otherwise arid secularism. Secondly, I believe our tangata whenua are spiritually set apart and important to our country.

There is an exquisite irony in what’s happened here. Our public servants and civic leaders, who’d spit on the ground during a Pākehā’s Christian prayer, beam like Cheshire Cats when the same is done in te reo. I love this. God works in mysterious ways and he clearly has a sense of humour. – Simon Bridges 

None of this means I hold any Messiah complex. There have been long periods of my life where I have sought answers through prayer but the phone to the Big Guy has seemed off the hook. Despite my stories, I don’t believe in dial-a-God. It’s simply that I believe God is there wanting a personal relationship with everyone. I am not special. – Simon Bridges

The Government’s vaccine purchase of late last year is a microcosm of what’s wrong with its priorities, and a worrying indication that ‘getting the message right’ trumps real world achievement. – Kate MacNamara

There’s no reason to question the spending on contract negotiation, it’s specialised and its consequences were staggeringly large.

And given that New Zealand’s first receipt of the Pfizer vaccine was months behind other countries, and very low for months more, there’s a strong argument to be made that more money should have been spent on advice.

There’s no such rationale for coughing up large sums out of that kitty for communications advice, however: the services MBIE bought with the second largest chunk of that $700,000 were for PR.Kate MacNamara

To give a sense of the priority, that spending trumped the $38,000 that went on the Science and Technical Advisory Group, the $49,000 that went to a research advisor, the $12,000 paid to Horizon Research to study potential Covid-19 vaccine acceptance and uptake, and the $5,500 spent went on translation services.

The breakdown is instructive because it points to how the government, and by extension, its political masters, weighs messaging. – Kate MacNamara

As Auckland University economist Robert MacCullock has estimated, it’s likely New Zealand could have paid an extra $40m (in the order of $4 more per dose) to receive early vaccine delivery.

If it had done so (combined with a competent rollout) we would now be in the position of having already offered inoculation to everyone in our small population, or close to it. – Kate MacNamara

When asked by the Herald last month why the Government didn’t pay more to get Pfizer vaccines early, Hipkins claimed such a move would have been “unethical”.

It was a fatuous remark that sidestepped the Minister’s primary responsibility, which is to the New Zealand public. All the more so now that the public is again housebound in a level 4 lockdown, and footing what Finance Minister, Grant Robertson, has advised is a weekly bill of some $1.5 billion, a tally that notably excludes a host of costs, not the least of which is lost education to school children.

Minister Hipkins needs a new moral compass, if he ditched the spin doctors he could no doubt afford one.- Kate MacNamara

We want to be able to care for our patients – we want to care for them in a safe environment, and it’s so unsafe because of a lack of staffing. Di

Nurses are the ones who move forward and say, ‘I’m happy to do this. We’re here to help, and we’re doing it differently. We’re working outside our normal areas, and normal hours – we’re doing it again.- Geraldine

I understand lockdown had to be done fast, but it’s significantly harder for people whose pay is not consistent. I was lucky enough to get paid the night we went into lockdown and worked 45 hours last week so had enough money to buy groceries but that’s not the case for everyone.

I know people who get paid Wednesday/Thursday and they won’t get paid for their hours this week. They’ll have to go without the essentials because they didn’t have enough money to go to the doctors for their prescriptions renewed. – Ellsie Coles

“We had all these customers desperate to get back to their local cafes and bars, but the way [customers] treated us was appalling. Before lockdown, customers were dismissive, abusive and rude but it was almost like they had completely forgotten their manners. It was also how drunk they were getting. – Ann King

Xenophobia is, regrettably, not a new strain in the national psyche, more an endemic seasonal virus that has circulated since time immemorial. However, the prevailing attitude, expressed through policy and the rhetoric of our leaders, to New Zealanders outside the border – ranging from frosty indifference to outright hostility – is very much a new development. Ben Thomas 

However, since Covid, New Zealanders’ circle of empathy seems to have been pulled tight, like a knot, around the territorial boundaries of the country.

New Zealanders caught outside, or the families of foreign visa holders here doing often essential work including nursing and teaching, feel very much like they are looking in. In some respects, the pandemic has made the country smaller. Our families, our co-workers’ families, our friends, now show up in the public discourse mainly as risks to be managed or, more likely, excluded.

While government surrogates criticise “lifestyle” travellers and those who “chose” to live overseas, stories mount of partners who have not seen newborns. – Ben Thomas 

The New Zealand state’s efficiency and wraparound service, seen in the dispensation of wage subsidies and (ironically) passport processing speed, is experienced by offshore New Zealanders, setting regular alarms to stay online and wait to click hopelessly for hours to book non-existent spots in MIQ, as uncaring and capricious.

In order for values to count as character, they have to endure in good times and bad. Is the New Zealand national identity we treasure a reflection of who we really are, or of the benign times we have lived through until now? With the imminent effects of climate change and the movement of mass refugees from the hell of Afghanistan under the Taliban, these are questions we may be answering soon. – Ben Thomas 

Education is more than just a pathway to a job. It’s about growing young people who are filled with aspiration, with capabilities, with vision for themselves and the world around them.

The focus of education has definitely shifted … there’s been a focus on what can be measured, and evaluated.

The arts play an important part in developing creativity, engagement with the world around them … it’s more than a skillset  – Esther Hansen

Like any mother, it doesn’t matter how old your children are, you want to be with them. I’m sure there’ll be lots of other families around the area who identify with how we’re feeling at the moment.Anne Tolley

I think it’s time that these modern day politicians showed the great man a bit of respect. He was not perfect, but then again, who is? He was a man of his age and his opinions and actions reflected that. Indeed, attempting to impose today’s opinions on historical figures, as many on the left do, is just childish.

What is not up for debate, however, is that the world, including New Zealand, owes Churchill a great debt. And he will be revered long after this obsession with wokeness has passed and politicians like Ardern have thankfully left the stage. – Paul A. Nuttall

No other country has achieved lockdowns as tough as New Zealand’s, and thereby executed an elimination strategy. Especially with the Delta strain, almost everyone else has accepted that Covid is here to stay. Instead of being preoccupied with national self-congratulation, they have focused aggressively on early vaccination. Matthew Hooton

Even once we reach the undefined level of vaccination Ardern says would lead to the borders reopening, Covid will keep arriving, spreading, making people sick, putting some of us in ICU and even killing a few.

If Ardern’s definition of elimination means lockdown every time, then her strategy will have run its course not long after we emerge from this one.

Meanwhile, her Government’s shameful performance in preparing the public and the health system for that imminent reality should be a national scandal.

More than a year since Ardern was forced to switch from flattening the curve to elimination, the Ministry of Health reports no material improvement in ICU capability. – Matthew Hooton

There were 334 ventilators and 358 ICU beds at the end of the first lockdown. The Ministry of Health says there are just 284 fully staffed ICU beds across public hospitals. While there are 629 ICU-capable ventilators, including 133 in reserve, the number of nurses trained to work with them improved by just 1 per cent. The problem that forced Ardern to opt for her ultra-tough strategy is as bad as ever.

Little new can be said about the vaccination fiasco. We have the slowest rollout in the developed world, not all frontline border and MIQ workers are yet vaccinated and there was no chance of reaching population immunity until mid-December, even without this week’s pause.Matthew Hooton

Yet Ardern and her Beehive should not be let off so easily. For months, ministers and strategists have privately pointed the finger at the bureaucrats for every failure while claiming success for Ardern’s rhetorical achievements.

But those bureaucrats report to ministers. If their performance is as poor as claimed, then the buck stops at the top and the time for whispers is past. If the Beehive does not believe senior bureaucrats are capable of preparing the health system for a post-elimination strategy, it should say so publicly and get in people who are. – Matthew Hooton

While we continue to have low deaths and infections, we have a woefully low rate of vaccination, which currently languishes among Romania, Albania, and Bolivia. If other parts of our public infrastructure were ranked so poorly, you’d expect ministerial resignations. Thomas Coughlan

The idea that most DHBs could be “hitting” their targets, while the population eligible for the vaccines is still roughly 60 per cent unvaccinated shows the targets for the sham they are – the emperor has no vaccine.

The Government has some serious questions to answer to the people put at risk by the latest Covid outbreak, which appears to include a large number of under-30s. – Thomas Coughlan

No one’s kidding themselves about a return to what things were like before, but for our Northern Hemisphere friends, two doses of vaccine and a bit of mask-wearing seems to buy an alternative lifestyle that has significant benefits to our own.

This somewhat upends the politics of Covid in New Zealand. Should this outbreak worsen, and modelling suggests it might, it will no longer be clear that our approach is the right one.Thomas Coughlan

New Zealand’s Covid-19 response was idealised last year. The small island nation eliminated the virus – with short lockdowns, closed borders and effective contact tracing – and largely lived without restrictions. Economic growth has been high and mortality has been low. But what worked in 2020 is not the same as what makes sense in 2021.

We now have vaccines. The ingenious jabs substantially reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death from the virus. They do not mean zero risk or, for that matter, zero cases. But they change the calculation: elimination becomes a costly strategy with very limited benefit. What’s the point of lockdowns and maintaining closed borders for a virus that, with vaccines in the mix, no longer causes much harm to individual people?

New Zealand has not come to this realisation. It has fetishised “zero risk” for the past 17 months and show little interest in updating its strategy. – Matthew Lesh

New Zealand’s zero Covid strategy has had frightening consequences. A once-welcoming nation is turning into an isolated dystopia, where liberties are taken away in a heartbeat and outsiders are shunned. Living under the constant threat of disruptive and psychologically crushing lockdowns. Being closed off to the world, with citizens’ ability to travel curtailed and foreigners largely prevented from entering. So much for the open, welcoming liberal nation projected by Ms Ardern. Matthew Lesh

The implications of New Zealand’s strategy stretch well beyond Covid. “Zero risk” gives the state limitless justification to interfere with our lives in the most extreme of ways. Individual choice, bodily autonomy and basic privacy become subsumed to the goal of taking away anything that could do us even the smallest level of harm. Fear breeds tolerance for the most extreme actions. A liberal society becomes impossible to maintain.

This pandemic has changed our lives in so many ways. We have sacrificed so much in the name of public safety. But at some point, we have to declare “enough is enough”. Snap lockdowns over small numbers of cases and constant state interference in our lives is simply no way to live. – Matthew Lesh

The Government are in charge of this, they are the ones that are setting the rules. They are the ones that need to make sure it’s working properly. They can’t delegate responsibility to others.

“It’s them that I expect to make sure the that vaccination is working everywhere in the country when they say it is.Todd McClay

The conceit is in thinking that we can come up with a completely 100 per cent water-tight border. Short of letting no goods or people cross it at all, which would truly mean North Korea, there is always a risk. Fortification is effective but not failsafe. And so it proved.

Still, hopefully some good can come from this new reality. Perhaps we could collectively use the time to develop some greater clarity of thinking on our response to this pandemic, knowing what we know now. – Steven Joyce

The word elimination has become Orwellian and unhelpful. Covid is not eliminated when we keep it out of the country. It is simply shut out and we have barricaded ourselves in.

And all the evidence suggests the world won’t be eliminating it, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Kicking the term elimination to touch is important because its use by our politicians has bred smugness and complacency, particularly in them. They have acted as if Covid has been eliminated, and signalled the same to the public with their actions. – Steven Joyce

The vaccine rollout has been accurately described as a strollout.

There has been scandalous negligence in preparing our hospital facilities for another wave of the pandemic, as alluded to in the Skegg Report last week.

The Government has instead busied itself looking down its nose at the outbreaks in Australia, reorganising hospital administration (during a pandemic?), and paying for things like school lunches for kids whose parents don’t want them, or putting cameras on fishing boats, all out of the Covid emergency fund.

This is not the sort of stuff on the top of your to-do list when there is a war on.

And it is a war, with a tricky and persistent invader. – Steven Joyce

Fortifying our defences and using our moat to protect ourselves is a legitimate tactic and I support it.

Where we have fallen down is in not using the time those fortifications have given us to urgently vaccinate the population and prepare our hospital facilities to cope better with another outbreak.

When one occurs, there is no alternative to locking down.

Which brings us to the second thing we can take out of this lockdown. A new urgency for vaccination for everyone.- Steven Joyce

Vaccinations don’t prevent transmission, but they do suppress serious illness. It should by now be clear that vaccination is the only known way out of this pandemic. Frankly, it was apparent months ago, but at least with the clear and present danger we have now, the Government and all of us should have the impetus to rapidly get it done.

Temporarily halting vaccinations at the start of lockdown was not a good first step. You mean you hadn’t prepared vaccination centres for operating under Level 3 or 4? Steven Joyce

If ministers start admitting that people won’t need to be locked down once we are all vaccinated, it’s a short step from there to blaming them for the current lockdown, given that they have been supervising the world’s slowest rollout.

Alternatively, they really believe our hospital system won’t cope with even a small increase in Covid-related hospitalisations next year alongside our regular flu season. I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes if that proved to be the case, having by then had two years to prepare. – Steven Joyce

We did well in the early stages of Covid but this outbreak should remove any remaining temptation to rest on our laurels. Hopefully it teaches some humility to our politicians and senior public servants and a much-needed reassessment of our plan forward from here.

We only need to lock down now because we are not vaccinated.

Our businesses, our kids missing their schooling and friends, our families missing life events, elderly neighbours prevented from talking to each other, those who feel life and its opportunities are passing them by, can’t put up with much more of “lockdown is the only solution”. Steven Joyce

Certainty is really helpful for people – not only people in business and small businesses but also for people just trying to go about their lives. A lack of certainty, waiting for a one o’clock announcement every day, this actually adds to the anxiety – it doesn’t actually help people that much. – Judith Collins

We are in lockdown because the government did not act with urgency to protect New Zealanders. Their complacency and inability to ensure supply and delivery of the vaccine roll-out has left New Zealanders as sitting ducks; completely vulnerable to the Delta variant when it inevitably got into the community.

It is not enough for the prime minister to lock us in our homes and speak from the podium once a day. New Zealanders don’t need sermons, we need vaccines in arms right now. – Judith Collins

New Zealanders are right to be very frustrated. We understand we need to have a level 4 lockdown because of the seriousness of the situation … that is taken as a given.

But what is not acceptable, is the government has been absolutely warned about this situation for many months, then only now talking about bringing in, for instance, saliva testing and rapid antigen testing … it’s like they’ve been asleep at the wheel and complacent and sitting back and saying ‘aren’t we clever?’ when ultimately, we’re not. – Judith Collins

The plan should have been in place and able to be activated at literally a moment’s notice.

Indeed, it is unimaginable that any responsible government would not have a contingency plan well in place for such an emergency, suggesting that the real point of the contrived urgency was more about showing the government was bold, decisive and in control. If, as the Prime Minister has implied, they were awaiting further information before reaching a decision, then that suggests the government and the Ministry of Health were hopelessly ill-prepared for such eventualities, something the public should be extremely concerned about. It must be hoped that the Prime Minister’s hints were yet more spin, not an accurate reflection of the real state of play. – Peter Dunne

And when the announcement was eventually made, the sanctimony and arrogance were palpable. All New Zealanders wanted to know was when we would be going into lockdown and for how long. Even then, they were kept in suspense when it was announced that the Prime Minister was running ten minutes late – a deliberate ploy to attract attention if ever there was one. Worse, when she eventually deigned to appear it was to be a further twelve minutes of generalities and slogans before she eventually got to the point we had all been waiting to hear.

All the appeals to live in your bubble, remember you are part of the team of five million, and to be kind are so much humbug. All they do is raise the hairs on the back of the neck more rigidly. Peter Dunne

Delaying the announcement several hours until the 6:00 pm television news and then not even turning up on time to deliver it suggests the process was more about keeping the focus on the government, than meeting the public’s concerns.- Peter Dunne

I would prefer the government when dealing with complex but not unexpected situations like this week’s outbreak to keep its focus solely on the facts, without the extraneous, embellishing drama. People simply need to know what is happening, how it affects them, and what they need to do. They can work the rest out for themselves without the saccharine laced platitudes masquerading as announcements that have become so much a part of the process. – Peter Dunne

We will get through the current situation for no other reason than people’s focus on their own and their families’ wellbeing. It has nothing to do with being kind, staying in bubbles, or being part of some mythical team of five million. That is all just so much unctuous poppycock. People will respond because they appreciate it is in their best personal interests to do so. Anything else is just puffery. Therefore, we deserve to be respected as mature and responsible beings, capable of sound decision-making, not errant children to be given morality lectures at our leaders’ convenience. – Peter Dunne

The greatest absurdity of this week’s announcements, in response to a situation brought on almost entirely by our poor vaccination rates, was the abrupt decision to suspend vaccinations, only to be just as abruptly overturned less than 24 hours later. It suggested a complete lack of forethought, planning and organisation. Or, as the ever-curmudgeonly Eeyore of Winnie-the-Pooh fame would say, “They haven’t got Brains any of them, only grey fluff that’s blown into their heads by mistake, and they don’t Think.” – Peter Dunne

The rest of the world is embracing its post-pandemic future while New Zealand enters a March 2020 time warp.Andrea Vance

We were overconfident about the elimination strategy and our ability to keep the virus out. But whereas the virus got more sophisticated, more “tricky” to use Ardern’s own parlance, we did not.

While New Zealand was free of community transmission, the Government took a leisurely approach to vaccination.- Andrea Vance

If only Ardern had applied the ‘go hard and go early’ approach to her Government’s vaccination strategy. – Andrea Vance

These are failings that were foreseeable and are unforgivable. We are yet to learn how the variant penetrated New Zealand’s defences, but the most obvious pathway is a border incursion.

So for now, we will do our bit. Stay home, mask up, relinquish our freedoms and hope the consequences of a lockdown are not too severe.

The responsibility to stop the spread is once again on us – because the Government failed to play its part. – Andrea Vance

The truth is we can’t maintain zero-Covid forever. We all know that. We’re only delaying the inevitable by carrying on with it.

At some point we will have to open the borders again to the world. Pretending there is a choice not to do that is a fallacy. There simply is no other option. We must rejoin the world if we want to be part of it.Heather du Plessis-Allan

So at some point Covid will come into New Zealand. We will be jabbed, there will be outbreaks, some people will die, some won’t even know they’re crook, most people will get a touch of something then get better. That will happen. We don’t get to choose if it happens, we only get to choose when it happens.

So, knowing that every lockdown only delays the inevitable, ask yourself how many more level 4s you’re happy to do before you’ve had enough. Heather du Plessis-Allan

The truth is we can’t maintain zero-Covid forever. We all know that. We’re only delaying the inevitable by carrying on with it.

At some point we will have to open the borders again to the world. Pretending there is a choice not to do that is a fallacy. There simply is no other option. We must rejoin the world if we want to be part of it.Heather du Plessis-Allan

So at some point Covid will come into New Zealand. We will be jabbed, there will be outbreaks, some people will die, some won’t even know they’re crook, most people will get a touch of something then get better. That will happen. We don’t get to choose if it happens, we only get to choose when it happens.

So, knowing that every lockdown only delays the inevitable, ask yourself how many more level 4s you’re happy to do before you’ve had enough. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The reason the Police weren’t jabbed properly was because they didn’t have the supply. At last, Ardern admits it. We asked that very question six hours earlier yesterday when talking to Ashley Bloomfield, but he wouldn’t admit it.

The Police, of course, who have this week talked of taking legal action, have every right to be angry. The supermarket workers have every right to be angry. By weeks end, we all have every right to be angry because we have been shockingly let down. Mike Hosking

Their plan, such as it ever was, is now officially a scandal, it’s a bust. As Scott Morrison and his smug lot across the Tasman had to admit and apologise for.

So too will this lot, who suffered the same smugness, who refused to listen, who refused to accept that it was a race, the borders don’t keep out the virus, and zero Covid is a joke.

It’s a hopelessly idealistic joke believed in by people who are not remotely connected to the real world. – Mike Hosking

So, to the supply, we have been conned.

We didn’t pay the premium for early delivery, we didn’t have any urgency, we were blinded by the dumb belief that a locked border was all we needed, and we could take all year no worries. What a farce.

We could have jabbed everyone if we started in February by June. And yet here we are in August 118th in the world locked down, everything shut, and yet again going nowhere.Mike Hosking

That’s where this Government’s plan, or lack of plan has landed us. Front-liners not protected because of lack of supply, 118th in the world, locked down like nowhere else apart from the other inept idiots across the Tasman.

The scam is up. The con is exposed. The Ardern Show was as shallow as ‘be kind’ and stick a teddy in the window.

You think they’re going to put this on the cover of Vogue or Time?  – Mike Hosking

So in a year and a half, we haven’t come very far at all, in terms of mitigating the damage the virus does and in terms of treating people when the worst does happen. All the time we were rocking on at Six60 concerts and cheering on the All Blacks, there were people whispering “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”. And they were right. –  Kerre McIvor

There is much that has been done well by New Zealanders and the Government in response to Covid-19. But lockdowns also remind us there is much that could be done better, particularly by the decision makers at the Ministry of Health. – Kerre McIvor

Despite her butter-wouldn’t-melt image of kindness and care and concern for others, Ardern is a ruthless politician who is cunning as a fox and quick to change tack in response to public criticism.

She is also shameless at stage-managing her public appearances for maximum effect — whether it is showcasing her government’s actions at her 1pm press conferences or being covered by a Polynesian ceremonial mat during an official apology for the Dawn Raids in a highly choreographed piece of political theatre.Graham Adams

Eventually her adherents — no matter how fervently they believe in their leader’s righteousness — will come to see that the fabled destination will always remain out of reach. They are steadily drifting away as it becomes more and more apparent her government is seriously incompetent in battling the scourges that afflict New Zealand — including overburdened infrastructure, crippling house prices and children living in poverty. – Graham Adams

Despite her butter-wouldn’t-melt image of kindness and care and concern for others, Ardern is a ruthless politician who is cunning as a fox and quick to change tack in response to public criticism.

She is also shameless at stage-managing her public appearances for maximum effect — whether it is showcasing her government’s actions at her 1pm press conferences or being covered by a Polynesian ceremonial mat during an official apology for the Dawn Raids in a highly choreographed piece of political theatre.Graham Adams

Eventually her adherents — no matter how fervently they believe in their leader’s righteousness — will come to see that the fabled destination will always remain out of reach. They are steadily drifting away as it becomes more and more apparent her government is seriously incompetent in battling the scourges that afflict New Zealand — including overburdened infrastructure, crippling house prices and children living in poverty. – Graham Adams

As is the case with so much in life, the wealthy in New Zealand and Australia have the resources to ensure their families come out of the current lockdown (and future lockdowns) relatively unscathed. The countries’ least privileged citizens aren’t so fortunate. They’re the ones that suffer the most from this strategy and the costs they’re being asked to bear will be with many of them for life. These lands down under are failing their most vulnerable with a policy of COVID-zero.Nicholas Kerr

Failing a knighthood, as a farmer there’s only one way I want the public to thank me: by happily paying a fair price for what I produce and not begrudging how I make a living. – Craig Hickman

The Prime Minister doesn’t need to hog all the media space. She already gets up to an hour a day any day she likes beaming straight into Kiwi’s lounge rooms. She already gets to pick and choose which media outlets she goes on in a bid to avoid hard questions.

When she stops meetings from taking place via zoom It goes beyond a health-based decision and becomes a political decision. She is playing politics here while she pretends to rise above that. It is impossible to respect this decision and her for making it. Heather du Plessis-Allan

Jacinda Ardern consistently calls for Kiwis to “be kind”. In today’s 4pm stand-up, the record hadn’t changed. How would she respond if asked what cruelty she had exercised in the pursuit of kindness? Because she has inflicted cruelty on New Zealanders through lock down. – Lindsay Mitchell

If she is asking people who barely tolerate each other in normal circumstances to transform under lock down, you know she lacks any understanding of the human condition under extreme stress.

She must. Or she wouldn’t be pig-headedly pursuing the same pathway she led us down in 2020.

“Be kind” is a hollow platitude. That’s all it has ever been.Lindsay Mitchell

Any confidence that we learned our lessons from last year’s lockdown regarding mass virus testing should be thrown out the window. Having been through this process before, one would assume the Ministry of Health and its various providers would have a clear and concise plan to efficiently deliver mass Covid-19 testing to as many people as possible.

Instead, close contacts and essential workers were made to wait more than 10 hours for a test – some were even turned away as demand trumped capacity. Queues of cars wreaked havoc with what little traffic was on the roads under alert level 4 restrictions, indicating a clear lack in appropriate facilities for such efforts. – Adam Pearse

The question remains; how did we let this happen again?Adam Pearse

The frustrating aspect is that we’ve been through this before. We know what happens when calls for mass testing are sounded and yet nothing seems to have changed in the 17 months we’ve had to prepare. – Adam Pearse

What is most disappointing is that it’s our nurses who are bailing us out again. They have no choice but to rise to the occasion. They know their communities need them, rain or shine, swabbing every nose possible. The hope is – likely a naive one – that their sacrifices will not be forgotten by those who hold the keys to better pay and improved working conditions. – Adam Pearse

But if the past week has signalled anything, it’s that we will never be able to successfully operate mass testing without addressing the historical issues in our health workforce.

If you head to a well-resourced medical centre, you will see how mass events should be run and what they all have in common is sufficient staffing. Without the necessary numbers, people’s anxieties will continue to defeat efforts to prioritise testing for those who need it. – Adam Pearse

Until the world is willing to admit the obvious truth—that radical Islamism sanctions atrocities against women—these atrocities will continue to happen. – Yasmine Mohammed

The New Zealand Government can take a lot of lessons from its Covid leadership.

Firstly, and most importantly, leadership should always get in the weeds and into the detail on the mission critical matters. The best business leaders in the world are always on the dance floor, not on the balcony.

Less time on PR. More time on solving problems and practical decision making. More time being proactive not reactive. – Nick Mowbray

Helicopter management simply does not work. It’s a “hit and hope” approach.

Leaders need to first understand at a macro level what needs to be prioritised and then move swiftly into action, getting into the detail, solving problems and building actionable frameworks. Unfortunately this government’s record reads poorly in this regard.Nick Mowbray

Unfortunately I fear a lack of understanding at a macro level. A good example was the wage freeze on nurses for three years in complete disregard to mass inflation (consumer/houses/assets) – so basically a wage reduction.

No one is more mission-critical than nurses. We need every single one. Our health system is already vastly understaffed regardless of Covid. We should be prioritising our health professionals now more than ever. – Nick Mowbray

Complacency kills companies. It’s also what got New Zealand into this spot. Like in business if you don’t keep moving, evolving, improving and being proactive every single day you get left behind and eventually you lose.

NZ’s Covid response flat-lined a long time ago.

I hope our Government is learning from this and evolves so we can move quickly join the world again. – Nick Mowbray

These people, who ask questions, challenge the government’s response, probe and probe again after detecting inconsistencies, play a vital role in improving the Covid-19 response.

Because being part of the team doesn’t mean mindlessly accepting information at face value. And being kind doesn’t mean sitting down and shutting up.Laura Walters

Questions and challenges should be rooted in fact, with the express aim of improving public understanding and access to information, as we all work towards the same goal: keeping New Zealanders safe. But there is plenty of space between whipping up hysteria and essentially becoming part of the government communications machine. It is not the job of the New Zealand media or the opposition to make the government look good.

Unfortunately, many of those who do play the vital role of questioning the government’s handling of some aspects of its pandemic response are vilified. – Laura Walters

Watching the sausage being made can be surprising, confusing and sometimes off-putting. Repeated questioning on the same topic might seem unnecessary or even a form of badgering, but it’s also how a subtle inconsistency in a comment from the country’s leadership can reveal a wider issue. Laura Walters

So, when we talk about the team of five million, it’s important to remember there are many roles within the team, and they often look quite different.

Good science has been at the core of New Zealand’s successful Covid-19 strategy. Good science is not born out of acceptance or complacency; it’s reliant on the constant challenging and questioning of ideas and approaches, in order to get the best possible outcome. The same is true for public health policy and political responses. – Laura Walters

This is a very shonky and incompetent government. Make no mistake.Lindsay Mitchell

Isn’t it interesting how much lower the bar is for bureaucrats than the private sector?  Even our sports teams get more scrutiny. Imagine if Ashley Bloomfield was an All Black coach.

Bear in mind, this guy is our number one, head and shoulders above the next best suitable candidate. That’s the worryingly low benchmark we’re setting and accepting across the state service for where performance expectations sit. –  Kate Hawkesby

If this were the private sector, we’d score KPI’s, canvas high and lowlights, and grade performance. The only conclusion we could draw would result in a small chat with HR in which Bloomfield be invited to bring a support person, followed by a press release about spending more time with his family, and, if he’s lucky, a small pay-out.   

But this isn’t happening with Teflon Bloomfield, NZ’s highest profile bureaucrat. Kate Hawkesby

On numerous occasions he’s at best withheld or obfuscated material information – and at worst has bare face lied to Cabinet, a Select Committee and the public. On testing, on flu vaccines, on PPE, on the critical vaccine procurement and rollout, on saline injections, on text messages to Foreign Affairs.

He continues to defend the indefensible.  – Kate Hawkesby

We’ve been caught short – and he’s not fronting that with a mea culpa, or even highlighting areas where things could’ve been better, nor is he being put under scrutiny or held to account by his employer. 

He has not demonstrated the light-footed dynamism of thought that’s required in managing the risks of an ever-evolving pandemic. In the private sector he’d be toast, and yet, we have deified him.Kate Hawkesby

If these really are isolated incidents, then the only conclusion one can make is that Labour volunteers are pathologically stupid. – David Farrar

Meanwhile, my mother and I still cry a storm of tears on twice-weekly video calls and our daughter gets further and further from the place of her birth. For those Australians who say expats had all the time they needed to come home, I hope you never have to watch a loved one’s funeral on a video call or lose a job without a way to find another. I hope you never have to take out a mortgage to hug your mother. The financial cost has been enormous, but it’s the emotional toll that hurts the most. That and the realisation that what you thought was “home” was just an illusion.Gaynor Reid

The role of Opposition in our Westminster parliamentary system is vital to a properly functioning democracy. Our system is adversarial not simply because the Opposition want to win the next election, but because of the serious part we must play in scrutinising the Government and having them justify their actions to the New Zealand public.- Judith Collins

They like us to give them eight days’ notice if we’re increasing our capacity, but as I said to them, Jacinda didn’t give us eight days’ notice for the lockdown.Annabel Turley

You just completely blow up with Delta if you have got an unvaccinated population. So this [outbreak] is a consequence of being too slow on the vaccine and not buying up aggressively at the start of the year, and there’s actually not a lot of excuse for that. We have to put ourselves first, and we didn’t. – Rodney Jones

The system appears to be bursting at the seams and the Government’s only response so far has been to shrug off criticism because this outbreak is bigger than what they had prepared for.

But that ignores four stark warnings that the Government has received over the past 18 months about the state of the contact tracing system. Each of these critical reviews found that the system would struggle to handle a medium-sized outbreak. Now such an outbreak has arrived and it has been spurred on further by the fact that it involves the highly transmissible Delta variant. – Mark Daalder

It’s the struggle that Ardern has been waging for 18 months – not wanting to politicise the pandemic but having to grapple with the fact that these decisions are by necessity political. We shouldn’t kid ourselves that the government makes its decisions solely on the health advice. – Marc Daalder

It’s bad enough that Delta arrived on these shores at a time when our vaccination rates were among the lowest in the developed world. It’s appalling that our frontline workers in hospitals, ports, supermarkets and police were largely unvaccinated. – Bruce Cotterill

Training testers and contact tracers now is like training your army after the enemy has invaded. – Bruce Cotterill

In the meantime we have 2000 supermarket workers in isolation and six supermarkets closed in Auckland alone as a result of a lack of staff. If you think lockdowns are frustrating people, just wait until they can’t get to the supermarket.

It gets worse. Life-saving surgeries, including a kidney transplant, have been cancelled because of a shortage of nurses. Where are the nurses? Isolating of course. – Bruce Cotterill

This crisis is far from over and we desperately need to change the way we are going about it. We need a sense of urgency. We need to put people in places with the ability to get things done and authority to make decisions.

Government departments and their servants provide adequate resource when life is normal. But in a crisis you need different skills and different strategies. You need rapid response, something government departments are not typically known for. You need people who can put teams together quickly and get things done. Political affiliations don’t matter. It’s all hands on deck. Just like the wartime that most of us are too young to remember.

And we need to be thinking ahead. Someone needs to be asking what the worst-case scenarios are and how we should prepare in case they happen. – Bruce Cotterill

The starting point in solving any problem is to admit that that you have a problem.

Instead of making excuses, let’s admit that our vaccination programme has been too slow and make a plan to get ahead of the game. Order booster vaccines now (we haven’t done this yet!).

How do we speed up testing? And how do we speed up getting test results? It’s six days in some places. Too long. We need next-day results. – Bruce Cotterill

We need a plan to vaccinate as many people as we can, as quickly as we can. We then need to plan our re-opening. We need to share those plans with the people and businesses so they can make their own plans. – Bruce Cotterill

Meeting surge capacity isn’t just some gold standard target to make the Government and health officials feel a sense of achievement, it’s pivotal to ensuring lockdown is actually working and Delta is being stamped out.

Based on the woefully low current capacity of contact tracers, not to mention the fact 600 contact tracers are being sought in the middle of an outbreak, it’s difficult to see what stress-testing was carried out ahead of Delta arriving. – Jo Moir

Either the Ministry of Health did little to no scenario-planning or wildly overestimated its own abilities.Jo Moir

Knowledge is power and contacts of positive cases not getting tested immediately makes it difficult to gauge how big the outbreak is and, in some cases, results in more people getting infected.

In addition to that there’s now issues of people who have tested positive not being moved into quarantine. – Jo Moir

It’s becoming increasingly unclear what exactly about this outbreak was planned for. – Jo Moir

So, then, reasonable decisions about the lockdowns are being made with the information available at this moment. But it would be remiss not to point out that we find ourselves in at this moment because of decisions made by the same people and their officials earlier in the pandemic.

For whatever reasons – and I think there are like many, some of which were out of officials’ control and some of which weren’t – we have found ourselves woefully behind in the vaccination programme. Ministers are incredibly defensive whenever they are challenged on this. But you can’t take credit for one part of the response and shirk all responsibility for another. – Jack Tame

Even once everyone had the opportunity to be vaccinated, the government will not remove all Covid restrictions. The government will build its own MIQ facilities. It will take at least a year to complete. The ability to travel wherever we wanted and return whenever we wanted will be a treasured memory for many years to come.

We will be unable to take international holidays. We will not be able to visit our friends and family overseas. Doing business worldwide will remain difficult.

Meanwhile, life in New Zealand will change. We will always be bound by rules. Covid outbreaks will be a constant concern, shutting down parts of the country without warning. Any plan will always be subject to change. There will be no certainty.

The power balance in our country will have shifted in favour of the state. We will live in a world where the state is in charge of our well-being and security. A state that, by the way, consistently fails at basic tasks. No matter how grateful we are to be alive, who would want to live in such a dystopian society?

For Covid’s sake, how much freedom will New Zealanders sacrifice? The answer to that question will determine the future of our country. – Oliver Hartiwch

We are short of nurses, not just in aged care facilities but all across the country. Yet I saw the Prime Minister saying that we were prepared for Covid-19 – but that Delta had a head start on us.

Nonsense – we had a head start on Delta but the government didn’t prepare for it by bringing in the thousands more nurses needed throughout the health system. We have had only 20 per cent of the population vaccinated and there are only enough vaccines in the country right now for another 375,000 (750,000 vaccines in all, two doses per person).

That’s not ‘prepared’; that is the slowest vaccination rate in the whole OECD. It’s a joke for Jacinda Ardern to say Delta had a head start.Brien Cree

So now we have overworked nurses working for six and seven days a week. They are asking for more pay and fair enough – but this isn’t a pay issue, it’s a supply issue. Instead of allowing nurses in from overseas, they have decided to burn out the nurses we have here.

There are over 2000 nursing vacancies in DHB hospitals and over 1000 in residential care. Then there’s natural attrition as people leave for all sorts of reasons – now including exhaustion. So who knows what the real number is? – Brien Cree

Why do we have 11-hour queues for vaccines? Not enough nurses. Why are we the lowest-vaccinated country in the OECD? A shortage of nurses.

We have been asking and asking for overseas nurses to be let in here – refused at every turn. We should have been building capacity in our health system, planning for when the virus came back. We all knew it was coming and the government kept telling us it would – yet they did nothing.

The government is making it sound like they have prepared for the crisis – but the real crisis is yet to occur. That will happen when the severely stretched health system can’t cope with the lack of specialist services not bringing in overseas nurses has caused.

They should have realised we were in the eye of the storm and brought in thousands of nurses in the past year, settled them in and got them working so the system could stay robust. They didn’t, although sports teams and entertainers got in, and now they have made us vulnerable. – Brien Cree

The government short-sightedness in keeping essential workers out is mystifying. They had an opportunity and they blew it.
The health system is in crisis now and the real crisis hasn’t even arrived yet.

Let’s learn from our mistakes – when this lockdown is over, let’s get much needed nurses into the country and build some capacity back into our health system. – Brien Cree

Empty streets, shuttered businesses, and people physically avoiding each other are bleak reminders that our ‘normal’ way of living is now fragile.

That, and the ‘us vs them’ group think mentality.

Us being the ‘team of five million’ and ‘them’ anyone who dares criticise the Government’s approach. – Andrea Vance

We are complying with restrictions on movement, gatherings, and even trading.

But that does not mean we gave up on freedom of expression.Andrea Vance

Government supporters aggressively insist critics should shut up and trust the experts. That anyone questioning the prevailing approach is recklessly anti-science, undermining the response or indifferent to a higher death toll.

This is too crude. It is perfectly logical to accept the need for current restrictions, while criticising the Government for how we got here and the failings that led to it, not least in the vaccination roll-out.

Delta got in – there should be hard questions about why so that the gaps are plugged. People are being denied the right to come home – it’s only fair they get to question the managed isolation procedures keeping them out. – Andrea Vance

It is right that the decisions coming from the Beehive are informed by complex scientific evidence.

But that does not mean that only those with expertise have the right to an opinion.

No political decisions are based solely on pure science.Andrea Vance

Political decisions always involve trade-offs, moral values and priorities. – Andrea Vance

It’s not defeatism, just debate. We can reject that which does not work or apply.Andrea Vance

Expert knowledge reflects the assumptions and blind spots of the giver. Scientists disagree, evidence shifts (last year masks were ineffective, this year they are essential. Mandatory scanning couldn’t be implemented at a meaningful level, now it can. All advice is, and should be, challengeable).

Obviously, there are caveats. Misinformation, especially when it is harmful, should be vigorously challenged.

The need for debate is vital.The normal checks and balances of our democracy are suspended at a time when they are most needed.

The 1pm briefings skew the discourse in favour of the Government, at the expense of Opposition voices, which are already weakened. – Andrea Vance

Sweeping decisions on fundamental rights are being made on a daily basis without any kind of scrutiny. They might be right and justified, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be examined and debated.

Of course, she must exude confidence in the strategy and maintain consistent and clear messaging. But it’s troubling when she says she doesn’t want a debate.

And that makes it even more crucial to have robust scrutiny from outside her inner circle.

Because if they are the right decisions, then they remain the right decisions. Questions and alternative viewpoints won’t change that, and we can be more confident we’re on the right course.

We shouldn’t run from transparent and open debate – scrutiny can only improve the decision-making. – Andrea Vance

This lockdown feels much harder than the first big one last year.

The mood has changed. People – especially Aucklanders who are on their fourth stay-at-home order – are grumpier. Commentators and columnists are scratchier.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Most of it, though, is driven by an enormous sense of disappointment. We thought New Zealand was exceptional. The world raved about our world-leading Covid response. But now, the world is ridiculing us at worst, shocked at best.

Our national pride is at stake, says economist Robert MacCulloch. This outbreak threatens to break our spirits and he worries that if we fall into despondency at the thought of being left behind by the world it could lead to an economic slump.

It’s likely dawning on a lot of people how unprepared our leaders were for this outbreak. Little in our Covid response has changed between March 2020 and today. That’ll come as a shock and disappointment to many who put so much faith in Jacinda and Ashley. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The pair have been touted globally as remarkable leaders, but it may be starting to feel like our remarkable leaders only have one trick and that’s locking down. They haven’t been successful at much else in this pandemic response.

They haven’t got enough contact tracers: they’re now doubling that number from 600 to 1200, showing how underprepared they were. They haven’t prepared a good testing system: people were lining up from 4am some days. They are so far behind on the vaccine rollout we are still the last in the developed world. We now face the prospect of running out next month unless we slow down the rollout.Heather du Plessis-Allan

Our tolerance for the usual explanation has dropped. Back in March 2020, Jacinda and Ashley were able to – reasonably fairly – frame themselves as the victims of events beyond their control. This is a textbook crisis management technique. And we accepted the explanation because none of us expected Covid. How could they? We accepted they were building the plane as they flew it. We gave them latitude.

They tried to roll out that narrative again this outbreak. It won’t work nearly as well this time. We’re too clued up on Covid now to buy that.

For the past eight months, we’ve watched the news as the Delta variant spread, from India to the UK to NSW. We watched it evade the legendary NSW contact tracers. We watched it leak over Australian borders throwing state after state into lockdown. We knew it was coming here and we knew it would take a stepped-up response to tackle it.

So, we expected our world leading PM and world leading Health Ministry to also have watched Delta and been ready for its arrival. They clearly aren’t. Which means we’re not buying the same old explanation run out from the 1 o’clock press conferences.

That makes us more grumpy. It shakes our faith in them and their ability to handle future outbreaks.- Heather du Plessis-Allan

That criticism stunned Professor Sir David Skegg. He said he was surprised how this level 4 lockdown has shaken the faith of some commentators in the elimination strategy. But he’s mistaken about what’s shaken our faith. It’s not just the lockdown. It’s really also our leaders. We expected them to be more prepared.

It’s a bitter pill to swallow accepting this might be the only tool they know how to use. Lockdowns are proving harder and harder to live through. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

In no small measure, the Government has successfully used fear as a big motivating factor for people over the past 18 months. Now fear could work against it. As with a lot of things in this world, the Government can’t “fix” Covid, and will essentially have to level with the public about this fact. – Luke Malpass

But this all turns on the vaccine rollout working and getting through basically everyone who wants a jab by the end of the year. That’s precisely the reason Ardern has turned the top of the 1pm update into a misleading advertorial about the vaccine programme, in which she or the minister fronting produces a huge headline figure of the number of New Zealanders who “have either booked or had at least one vaccination”. It’s a nonsense number.

Being booked and being vaccinated are not the same thing. Trying to pretend that the rollout is quicker than it is by blowing up a concocted headline number does no-one any favours and hurts the Government’s credibility.

But it does speak to the political vulnerability of the Government. Elimination is still the strategy, and it needs to hold until the population gets vaccinated. Luke Malpass

All of that means this is the last-gasp lockdown. Delta is going to be here, it is going to have to be managed, but lockdowns won’t be how it is done. They are too tough, too costly and, ultimately, compliance is unlikely to remain as high in the future.

Elimination via lockdowns was arguably the best strategy. But in a world of Delta, the economic juice won’t be worth the squeeze. Now the Government has to remind Kiwis that it can’t save every life, and also realign its messaging around the fact that health outcomes are never the only consideration in policy-making.

This lockdown may drag on, and there may still be others before the end of the vaccine programme, but it is now clear that its time in the Covid toolkit is coming to an end. – Luke Malpass

To suggest that the articles of the Treaty of Waitangi in some way obviate the Crown’s need to obtain the consent of the New Zealand electorate before changing the way justice is administered, and by whom, is tantamount to suggesting that the Treaty legally entitles the Crown to extinguish democracy in the Realm of New Zealand without reference to its citizens and in defiance of its laws.

Such action would constitute a declaration of war upon the people of this country. Any government participating in such an open attack on the civil and political rights of its citizens would immediately identify itself as their enemy, and forfeit all claims to their continuing loyalty. It would be responsible for unleashing civil war upon New Zealand.

The Labour Government’s silence on these matters is indefensible. A clear statement of its determination to uphold the Rule of Law and protect the democratic rights of all New Zealanders is long overdue. Chris Trotter

The border closure followed by the smugness that led us to do nothing comes at a massive economic price.

Smugness and complacency don’t pay the bills – Mike Hosking

An ICU bed is a physical structure alone. It cannot provide care or compassion and cannot save your life. To do all these things, a bed must come with staff who literally stand next to it every hour of every day.

Although doctors are able to provide support for several patients at once, individual care is provided almost exclusively by ICU nurses. Such expertise does not grow on trees; nurses only acquire these skills after five years of (intensive) training. Trans-Tasman wage gaps ensure a significant ongoing turnover. – Dr Alex Psirides

A single ICU bed costs well in excess of one million dollars per year. There are convincing arguments to be made that investing similar sums in either public or primary health will produce greater benefits for more New Zealanders, including addressing healthcare inequities. Building a cheaper fence at the top of the cliff is surely preferable to funding more expensive ambulances at the bottom.

These difficult decisions are for politicians and health economists, but should be informed by clinicians and the expectations of the public who should simultaneously hope that they never require an ICU bed, yet that one be readily available for them should they need it. – Dr Alex Psirides

If PR spin was all we needed to defeat a virus, Covid-19 might have been vanquished by now. But there comes a point when the Beehive communications wizards run out of snappy lines and the government’s vulnerability is exposed for all to see. Perhaps we’ve reached that point. Karl du Fresne

On three key metrics – testing, vaccinations and contract tracing – the government’s performance has been, to put it politely, tardy and sub-optimal. Protection at the border has been slack and the MIQ system appears to be a shambles. Meanwhile vulnerable essential workers, from police to port employees, have inexplicably been left unvaccinated.  – Karl du Fresne

Myself, I’m conflicted on Covid-19 and the lockdown. I instinctively bridle against the government’s gloss and spin. I’m over Ardern’s patronising entreaties from the Beehive Theatrette and I know lots of people – apolitical people, in many cases – who feel the same.

I also take the cynical view that the Covid-19 outbreak gifted a floundering government with a priceless publicity opportunity and a rare chance to give the appearance of being in control of something. But while the crisis initially looked good for Labour, it turned out not to be, because it served to cast light on the multiple glaring deficiencies in its preparedness. – Karl du Fresne

 

In April 2020, the Government banned all point-of-care tests unless they are approved by MedSafe, and MedSafe has not seen fit to approve any tests. Pedants might argue that this does not constitute a ban, but banning anything that has not been approved while deciding not to approve any options sounds an awful lot like a ban. – Eric Crampton

Whatever the merits of the ban prior to Delta, it makes little sense in the context of a Delta outbreak with transmission among essential workers. Providing rapid antigen tests to essential employers, such as hospitals, care homes, and supermarkets, would provide an additional layer of protection. If the Government did not want to purchase the tests for those employers, it could at least ease the ban on them.Eric Crampton

The effective functioning of any army has forever been based on instant obedience and strict unquestioning discipline – attributes now seriously out of fashion, especially with the liberal left. Why, these good folks demand, should soldiers be required to behave like automatons, just because they enlisted in an army? This kind of stricture, they maintain, is scandalously undemocratic, and before risking being shot or blown to bits, every trooper should be allowed due process and adequate consultation. – Dave Witherow

But the armed forces, no matter how they are viewed, ARE exceptional. They are not at all like other institutions, and the nature of their role immediately precludes many people whose merits, otherwise, might be undeniable. The blind and stone deaf, for example, are of limited utility as tank drivers or fighter pilots, or even as basic infantry. Paraplegics, pacifists, octogenarians, hemophiliacs, epileptics – whole categories of estimable people, however meritorious, need not apply.Dave Witherow

Can we just stop and think about how crazy this is:  In the middle of an outbreak – our government is seriously talking about slowing down our vaccination rate, because otherwise they will run out of supply.

Surely, it’s better to have those vaccines in arms rather than the freezer?  Surely, it’s better to simply jab until you run out?  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

There is only one reason that the government would rather slow down and that’s so they don’t’ have to say the embarrassing words ‘we’ve run out’.  

Because that make global headlines “New Zealand runs out vaccine”.Heather du Plessis-Allan

So, what they’d be doing is telling up to 40K Kiwis every day that they’re not going to get vaccine protection from delta, during an outbreak, because Labour needs to avoid an embarrassing headline. That is literally the calculation that’s happened.

If Labour does this then it has made the decision that it is more important to save face globally than it is to get you jabbed if you’re one of those 40K kiwis who miss every single day.  And by the way 40K a day is 280K a week is 1.1m a month. That’s a lot of us who go unprotected to save face. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Labour putting its political reputation ahead of you staying protected from Covid is frankly outrageous. 

Get it out of the freezer.  Get it in arms.  If we run out, we run out, but at least more kiwis have protection that way.   – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Comparing a fictional TV series set in the context of a world war against an invading army may be seen by some as trivialising what is a real threat against an aggressive virus. However, there does seem to be a Dad’s Army element to the manner in which New Zealand has responded to the pandemic and a Home Guard feel about the way our government has managed the Delta variant. – Frank Newman

The most important chart right now, the only one that matters, is how many New Zealanders have received a Covid-19 vaccination. The Prime Minister may like to point to other charts each day, but all they show is a lack of direction from her and her GovernmentJudith Collins

 


Government’s let the team down

22/08/2021

The government has let the team down:

We are in lockdown for two reasons; because the border has failed and because nearly 80 per cent of the country has still not been fully vaccinated, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“The Labour Government claimed last year we were ‘at the front of the queue’. Given what we now know, this was at best naïve and delusional and at worst, a complete lie.

We can’t have been at the front of the queue then and so far back now.

“Here are five things Kiwis need to know about the vaccine roll-out in New Zealand:

    1. We were slow to sign a contract with Pfizer – the 29th slowest out of the 38 countries in the OECD.
    2. We were slow to approve Pfizer for use in New Zealand. The UK approved it in early December 2020.  We didn’t approve it until 3 February 2021.
    3. We only ordered our Pfizer vaccines on January 29th this year. By this point, the UK and the US had administered tens of millions of doses.
    4. We refused to offer incentive payments for early delivery. It has been reported that an extra $50 million could have prevented the supply shortage earlier this year.
    5. We still haven’t ordered any Pfizer booster shots for 2022/2023. The US has just announced they will start administering boosters from September this year and other western countries have already got their orders in.

“We are in lockdown because the Government did not act with urgency to protect New Zealanders. Their complacency and inability to ensure supply and delivery of the vaccine roll-out has left New Zealanders as sitting ducks; completely vulnerable to the Delta variant when it inevitably got into the community.

“It is not enough for the Prime Minister to lock us in our homes and speak from the podium once a day. New Zealanders don’t need sermons, we need vaccines in arms right now.”

The government has believed too much of its own publicity while it basked in international praise. Now that it’s been caught out, Steven Joyce says it’s time for some humility as we learn lockdown lessons:

The conceit is in thinking that we can come up with a completely 100 per cent water-tight border. Short of letting no goods or people cross it at all, which would truly mean North Korea, there is always a risk. Fortification is effective but not failsafe. And so it proved.

Still, hopefully some good can come from this new reality. Perhaps we could collectively use the time to develop some greater clarity of thinking on our response to this pandemic, knowing what we know now.

We could start by dropping talk of “elimination” or elimination strategies”.

The word elimination has become Orwellian and unhelpful. Covid is not eliminated when we keep it out of the country. It is simply shut out and we have barricaded ourselves in.

And all the evidence suggests the world won’t be eliminating it, at least not in the foreseeable future.

Kicking the term elimination to touch is important because its use by our politicians has bred smugness and complacency, particularly in them. They have acted as if Covid has been eliminated, and signalled the same to the public with their actions.

The vaccine rollout has been accurately described as a strollout.

That strollout has left the whole country vulnerable.

There has been scandalous negligence in preparing our hospital facilities for another wave of the pandemic, as alluded to in the Skegg Report last week.

The Government has instead busied itself looking down its nose at the outbreaks in Australia, reorganising hospital administration (during a pandemic?), and paying for things like school lunches for kids whose parents don’t want them, or putting cameras on fishing boats, all out of the Covid emergency fund.

This is not the sort of stuff on the top of your to-do list when there is a war on.

And it is a war, with a tricky and persistent invader.

Fortifying our defences and using our moat to protect ourselves is a legitimate tactic and I support it.

Where we have fallen down is in not using the time those fortifications have given us to urgently vaccinate the population and prepare our hospital facilities to cope better with another outbreak.

When one occurs, there is no alternative to locking down.

The government is already patting itself on the back for going hard and early on the lockdown, conveniently overlooking its culpability for needing to do that because of the vaccine strollout.

Which brings us to the second thing we can take out of this lockdown. A new urgency for vaccination for everyone.

Vaccinations don’t prevent transmission, but they do suppress serious illness. It should by now be clear that vaccination is the only known way out of this pandemic. Frankly, it was apparent months ago, but at least with the clear and present danger we have now, the Government and all of us should have the impetus to rapidly get it done.

Queues at vaccine clinics and frustration with the on-line booking system indicate that many more people are willing to get vaccinated than the availability allows.

A friend’s first shot was cancelled on Tuesday and the first alternative appointment was more than a month away.

Temporarily halting vaccinations at the start of lockdown was not a good first step. You mean you hadn’t prepared vaccination centres for operating under Level 3 or 4? . . 

If ministers start admitting that people won’t need to be locked down once we are all vaccinated, it’s a short step from there to blaming them for the current lockdown, given that they have been supervising the world’s slowest rollout.

Alternatively, they really believe our hospital system won’t cope with even a small increase in Covid-related hospitalisations next year alongside our regular flu season. I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes if that proved to be the case, having by then had two years to prepare. . .

The stress on hospitals just a few weeks ago with the RSV outbreak doesn’t auger well for their ability to cope with flu and Covid.

We did well in the early stages of Covid but this outbreak should remove any remaining temptation to rest on our laurels. Hopefully it teaches some humility to our politicians and senior public servants and a much-needed reassessment of our plan forward from here.

We only need to lock down now because we are not vaccinated.

Our businesses, our kids missing their schooling and friends, our families missing life events, elderly neighbours prevented from talking to each other, those who feel life and its opportunities are passing them by, can’t put up with much more of “lockdown is the only solution”.

Compounding the negligence with the strollout is the lack of preparedness for community transmission of Covid-19 now it’s here.

There are long queues at testing stations; vaccination clinics had to shut to get them ready for operating at level 4, or to free up staff for testing; and now nurses are worried about lack of PPE – again.

Widespread and repeated advertising, including that woman with the bedtime-story voice on the radio, has been warning us all to be vigilant and do everything possible to keep ourselves and others safe.

If only the government had followed its own advice and done everything it could and should have to keep us all safe, and if only we could believe that it has learned from its mistakes and we could have confidence that it won’t let the team down again.


Sowing rotten seeds

13/07/2021

When critics talk about the ‘failed’ policies of the 80s and 90s, they ignore the fact that the seeds of the problems were planted in the preceding years.

Rampant inflation, high interest rates, overvalued currency, subsidies for farmers and manufacturers, myriad tariffs on imported goods, high tax rates . .  and all the other ingredients of a failing economy left little choice but drastic action.

There is justified debate about the way the changes were carried out and the pace of them, but few would argue against the need for a radical rebalancing of the economy.

Why then, nearly 40 years after all that is the current government resowing so many of the rotten seeds that necessitated the radical uprooting of what they grew in to?

One of those rotten seeds is a highly restricted labour force about which Steven Joyce writes:

The most notable aspect of this week’s benchmark Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion is that businesses are reporting more difficulty hiring skilled people than ever before — dating back to the 1970s when the survey first began.

In short, our labour market is seizing up. Bumper sticker exhortations to “just hire more Kiwis” won’t cut it. We’re running out of people for the jobs we have, and the people who are available either have the wrong skills for the jobs that are going, or are not prepared to work in those jobs.

And that’s a problem for more than just the affected businesses. It is a problem for all of us. A highly restricted labour market creates two direct impacts: constraints on our economic capacity and increased wage inflation. . . 

On the face of it higher wages are good, but there’s a big but:

Indeed, the Government sees wage inflation as a feature of their fortress economy approach. They make no secret of the fact that they are using our barricaded borders to force up wages higher than they would otherwise be.

However, if an increase in wages is not matched by increased productivity, then that wage increase quickly feeds into inflation. The person with the extra money in their pocket finds it disappearing into increased living costs, mortgage costs and rents, leaving them no better off and often worse off.

Higher wages without improved productivity eventually makes us all poorer.

What we are looking for as a society is real wage increases as a result of using our time more cleverly, not wage inflation.

Excessive borrowing and over-spending were other rotten seeds that necessitated drastic countering measures.

As we know, the Finance Minister has opened the spending spigot and been throwing money around like confetti to prop up the place since the pandemic began. He has been ably supported by the Reserve Bank, which cut interest rates to practically zero and flooded the country with even more money to help keep us all in the manner to which we have become accustomed, and to encourage us all to borrow more. And many of us have.

That is how we feel like we are going okay despite, for example, a 25 per cent reduction in our goods and services exports to the world so far this year.

There have been warning lights for some time that both the Government and the Reserve Bank may have overshot the mark with these interventions and could be prematurely stoking inflation. Construction costs, energy costs and retail prices are all starting to increase. House prices and other asset prices have shot through the roof. Imported inflation, too, is not helping.

A massively constrained labour market can only make things worse. If firms can’t hire people to expand and soak up the consumer demand created by all this government stimulus, then we reach our economic capacity much sooner. Then all the extra money floating around feeds even more into increased prices as people chase goods and services in limited supply. . .

All that feeds into higher interest rates about which banks are already talking.

And interest rates won’t have to go up too much to really hurt, coming off the current very low base. A 1 per cent rate increase on a 6 per cent mortgage back in the day would put your interest bill up by around 16 per cent. A 1 per cent increase on a 3 per cent mortgage whacks your interest costs up by a third. 

Our peculiar policy mix of outsized stimulus and hermetically-sealed isolation threatens to drive inflation and interest rate increases harder and earlier here than anywhere else.

Nobody is arguing against border restrictions while we get the vaccines rolled out, although a hurry-up on that front would be more than in order, as countless people have said.

The problem is that our current Government is deliberately using the Covid border restrictions as a convenient excuse for their attempt to deliberately decouple our labour market from the rest of the world. That’s why we have an “immigration reset”, the cancellation of tens of thousands of short-term visas, and hundreds of empty MIQ spaces every week.

Let’s be under no illusion. Their approach, if carried through, will permanently restrict the growth rate of New Zealand companies, and therefore, our country. . . 

In spite of calling them the ‘failed policies’ even subsequent Labour governments changed few of them, for the very good reason that they worked. This government either doesn’t understand, or is ignoring, that.

One of the great benefits of our bipartisan economic approach of the past 30 years is that this small and isolated country has increased its wealth partly by attracting people to help do the work we are collectively unable or unwilling to do. In the last decade alone, we have grown our incomes at a faster rate than many developed countries, while at the same time keeping a higher percentage of us productively employed than ever before.

The Government should be working to sustain that increase in prosperity by restoring our labour markets as soon as it safely can, and in encouraging the building of the supporting infrastructure we need to continue to grow. Not shutting the door and barricading us off at the first opportunity.

That way leads to stunted growth, inflationary pressures, higher interest rates, and a poorer country that can’t afford the infrastructure and services we need.

Many in the current administration may be too young to remember the over-regulated, under performing economy before we were dragged into the real world by the reforms begun by the Lange-Douglas government. Some might be too young to recall the pain and upheaval that ensued from them. But ignorance is no excuse for resowing so many of the rotten seeds that necessitated them.


Quotes of the month

01/05/2021

No other new government in the last half century has been as ham-fisted as this one. Fancy initially announcing a policy that had been the subject of no research! Then spending to start that research, and then establishing a new unit to consult the public, look at options and produce costings. – Michael Basset

Light rail comes on top of Kiwibuild, ending child poverty, and housing the homeless. This government is nothing more than a collection of willful children blundering about clutching the taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ credit cards, shifting from one cow pat to another. – Michael Basset

One of the economic lessons we are determined not to learn is that government cannot regulate prosperity. Each generation must learn, from scratch, this lesson. Helpfully, we already know the script.

A successful economy is, over time, corroded by a growing layer of restrictions. Each set of regulations imposes an unintended and unanticipated cost or outcome. This necessitates further rules and government oversight. Eventually the entire system becomes so overwhelmed that it either grinds to a halt or there is a sudden and dramatic economic liberalisation – Damien Grant

The businesses, entrepreneurs, financiers and investors who are essential to maintaining our quality of life will all react to the new restrictive environment. Some changes will be large, some firms will fail. Other developments will be incremental: investments will not be made, staff not employed and opportunities lost.

Few of these will be notable, but the collective impact is that we will be a poorer nation as a result, our economy will underperform and, over time, we will slide further away from our potential until, at some point, we will begin to resemble a Polish shipyard. – Damien Grant

The first rule for a government minister put in charge of a New Zealand industry should be: “don’t break it”. Even a small sector has thousands of actors, most of whom have been living and breathing their industry for years and will likely know much more than the minister. And as a small country with relatively thin markets, breaking a sector is easier than you might think.

The second rule is: when designing a policy, have a clear idea what the objective is, and then look for levers that will help you get there. Think through the effect each lever will have, or you might fall foul of the law of unintended consequences.

Unfortunately, quite a few ministers in the current Government seem to be unaware of these important rules of thumb. In industries as diverse as housing, energy, tourism, international education and broadcasting, ministers are being highly interventionist in ways which will depress investment and generally make a bigger mess. Messes that will thwart their objectives and which we will all end up paying for. – Steven Joyce

The Government’s stated objective in the energy sector is to reduce carbon emissions, which is a laudable public policy goal. However the levers it is pulling to achieve that outcome are both expensive and delivering results that counter its objective. – Steven Joyce

Simply put, Onslow is the wrong solution in the wrong place. It will chill other renewable electricity investments and either force up our already rapidly rising electricity prices or leave a massive bill for taxpayers. – Steven Joyce

Ministers need to more carefully think through the consequences of their actions. Right across the economy, poorly thought-through interventions risk damaging industries, discouraging investment and providing poor outcomes for kiwis. Its almost like Muldoonism and the command economy never went away. – Steven Joyce

But even in a crisis you have to lift your head above the parapet and start mapping out a path for the future, and the first step along that path must inevitably involve gradually reopening our borders. – Tracy Watkins

Vaccines work and they’re critically important, and when my turn comes, I’ll get mine with enthusiasm. – Dr Shane Reti

The Ardern Government has decided to avoid awkward questions about its pathetic record for per capita income growth by trying to focus attention instead on “well-being”, as if well-being can be improved in a sustainable way while per capita income growth is negligible. The new head of the Productivity Commisson’s definition – “Productivity = applying our taonga to deliver wellbeing” – says it all. – Don Brash

Road congestion is of course a very real problem, as tens of thousands of motorists understand only too well almost every day – the result of underinvestment in road networks over decades. But why not adopt a modern form of congestion pricing? Such systems work brilliantly in cities like Stockholm and Singapore and, according to surveys by the Automobile Association, are popular among motorists. To make them even more popular, the revenue from congestion pricing could be used to reduce the excise tax on fuel – cheaper fuel and less congestion – what is there not to like? – Don Brash

Investing huge sums of our limited capital in low-yielding vanity projects is what got us into this hole in the first place.  – Don Brash

Advised by impressively credentialled and highly experienced public servants, today’s Labour MPs feel obliged – by the meritocratic principles central to their personal identities – to do exactly what they’re told. And if they discover subsequently their advisers have lied to them, well, they must have had a very good reason for doing so. A reason they simply aren’t qualified to understand – or challenge. Not when the only alternative is allowing the people to decide. Because, seriously, what do they know? – Chris Trotter

The gods of political correctness are jealous gods: they will not have any other gods before them. Unfortunately for worshippers, however, there is a whole pantheon of them, and their demands may conflict. – Theodore Dalrymple

These days, professional politicians are so avid for office, and so much in the public eye, that all their activities must be interpreted politically, from their musical preferences to their diet to their visits to churches and other institutions.Theodore Dalrymple

“Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” (false in one thing, false in all) used to be a legal dictum applied to witnesses in court who had once told a lie on oath; it is no longer applied in most jurisdictions, but now, in our intolerant age, we hold it true with regard to opinions. One bad opinion makes a man bad in all other respects, unfrequentable by the decent person in fact. – Theodore Dalrymple

The ultimate object of the monomaniacs is not only to make certain things unsayable, but—because they are never said—unthinkable. As the good totalitarians they are, they want everybody to think alike. – Theodore Dalrymple

The fact the government is now prepared to face the potential emotional backlash involved in turning citizens away from the country’s border suggests to me that matters may really be turning pretty dire, and so a temporary removal of the right to enter is justified. Or, at least, I hope and trust that is the case. Because if the government has gotten this one wrong, it’s a betrayal of everything that citizenship is meant to promise. – Andrew Geddis

The worst form of racism perpetrated against Maori is that “they all think the same way.”Lindsay Mitchell

New Zealand has tended to pride itself over many years about the incorruptibility of public life. Unfortunately, we have seen too many cases over the last few decades that suggest this is more folk myth than reality, although clearly there are many places worse than us. But “many places worse than us” is simply not an acceptable standard; rather it expresses a degree of complacency that allows standards to keep slipping a little more each time, with excuses being made (“not really that big a deal”), especially for those who happen to be in favour at the time. But those sorts of cases, those sorts of people, are precisely where a fuss should be made, where mistakes or rule breaches should not be treated lightly. Integrity – and perceived integrity and incorruptibility – really matter at the top, and if there is one set of accommodations for those at the top, and another (more demanding) standard for those at the bottom it simply feeds cynicism about the political system and about our society. – Michael Reddell

It’s partly an art – you’ve got to have good technique, you’ve got to persist, you’ve got to train hard. If you’re going to write anything, there’s only one way to do it – you do it.Brian Turner

How does a man cope with that? You get a grip, mate! You just get on with it! – Brian Turner

 At the heart of their weaknesses is that they are a government of designers. They are effective at the stuff they can do with a “stroke of the pen”. – Bruce Cotterill

Increasing taxes, eliminating interest deductions and extending the brightline test (or capital gains tax) for property owners are a function of the same activity. Design. A stroke of the pen. A series of proposals that become rules that others will abide by. Design. A stroke of the pen.

And like much design, the outcome will not solve the problem it was invented for. The reality is that, if we have a housing crisis, it will be resolved by a simplified resource management process, more land becoming available and new houses getting built. In other words, engineering and execution. Instead, these new policies will see rents increase and property developers and owners spending their time restructuring their affairs to minimise their now heightened tax obligations and not much more. – Bruce Cotterill

When we look for engineering and execution, there seems to be an extensive array of failed promises. These breakdowns are in the initiatives that require more than a stroke of the pen. They require governments and their numerous personnel, having changed the rules, to actually do something. To make it happen.

There are now a number of major policy areas where outstanding public relations campaigns have trumpeted design, planning and vision while the delivery teams have completely failed with the engineering and execution. – Bruce Cotterill

There are times when good design alone, is enough. However, in most cases, good design of everything from grand visions to workable solutions needs to be accompanied by good engineering and ability to execute.

As we approach the three-quarter mark on this Government’s current six-year term, it would seem that the designer will ultimately fail due to its inability as an engineer.  – Bruce

Paternalism is an ugly concept we’ve long decried, having witnessed the damage it did throughout the British Empire, when colonisers treated indigenous peoples like naive children who needed instructing.

But paternalism is what is unfolding here: one group imposing restrictions on another, against their will, stemming from an attitude of superiority. We think we know what’s best for them. We might not.

The Cook Island’s Prime Minister is an adult, elected by his country to run his country. He must weigh up the risk of Covid-19 against the risk to his economy. He must decide if the country is equipped to mop up any outbreaks. It’s not our place to question his capacity to make those calls. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Our healthcare system is gaslighting us. This arrogant culture contributes to misdiagnosis, long wait times, and lower survival rates for illnesses. And just as we’ve been brushing off women’s symptoms, we continue to ignore the gender imbalance at the doctor’s surgery. – Andrea Vance

Constantly blaming racism for the problems faced by Māori is wrong. We can’t move forward as a nation if that is our only response. Rather than using such divisive language, our Government should be uniting New Zealanders behind good ideas that lift everyone up.Karen Chhour

That leads into the second problem with Mythical Plan Chart B: It appears to be completely made up. When Bishop asked Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins for the data underlying the chart, so that the Opposition and media can better hold the Government’s rollout to account against its own aspirational targets, he said there were no numbers behind it. Instead, he said that Mythical Plan Chart B “is intended to be illustrative and approximate”. – Marc Daalder

A proper plan would be built around targets that are not merely achievable but aspirational. It should be epidemiologically informed, not based simply on Ministry of Health bean-counters adding up vaccine supply, expected demand and workforce availability.Marc Daalder

The Ministry of Health won’t give out daily vaccine data, ministers and officials can’t say what percentage of the frontline border workforce meant to be vaccinated by early March has actually been immunised and now an unvaccinated border worker has tested positive for Covid-19 and no one has any clue why. Making it up on the fly has failed us – it’s time for the Government to give us a plan. – Marc Daalder

How do we best manage our renewable water for environment and human use? Thinking will help turn luck into a valuable resource. It’s what Kiwis have done in the past and can do again – as long as regulations enable innovation. Jacqueline Rowarth

The cold, hard irrefutable fact is that in all human activities the private sector always outperforms the state. The state’s prime role is as a rule setter and it should only supply services which are necessary but unprofitable, such as our railways, police and so on. Bob Jones

My father has been my teacher, my supporter and my critic, but mostly it is his example of a life well lived and service freely given that I most wanted to emulate. His ability to treat every person as an individual in their own right with their own skills comes through all the organisations with which he was involved.Princess Anne

Economists like to talk about “optimal policy instruments” – essentially, policies that achieve their objectives more effectively or efficiently than the alternatives, and have minimal unintended consequences. Judged by those criteria, the New Zealand government’s recently announced package of housing policy instruments is a long way from optimal. You might even call it a shambles. – Norman Gemmell

Science is a method for inquiry—guided by intellectual humility, skepticism, careful observation, questioning, hypothesis formulation, prediction, and experimentation—that is open to everyone, that aims to advance knowledge and improve the lives of all. While indigenous epistemologies are certainly worthy of study, and valuable in their own right, such epistemologies should not be promoted as superior to, or as a replacement for, Enlightenment epistemologies. – Samantha Jones

I do know how important it is to have a husband—a partner—who is a source of strength and a rock in times of trouble. – Theresa May

 Of course, if we don’t celebrate physically blocking trade, we shouldn’t celebrate any other means of blocking it. Like the gambler’s fallacy, the fallacies of protectionism, can be exploded with just a bit of logical thinking.Tom Palmer

The desire to compensate people for the historical wrongs done to their ancestors isn’t an altogether dishonorable one (except that the desire is usually to be fulfilled at the expense of someone else). – Theodore Dalrymple

The doctrine that is indoctrinated doesn’t have to be true to have real psychological effects, only to have emotional resonance. Every totalitarian, or would-be totalitarian, knows this.Theodore Dalrymple

A child who has spent all or most of their life dependent on their parent’s benefit is very likely to migrate onto their own benefit as a young adult. In my experience as a volunteer it wasn’t uncommon to find the parent encouraging this event as it upped the household income. – Lindsay Mitchell

The people of New Zealand, businesses under dire strain and families desperate to reunite across the Tasman have every reason to feel angry and upset.

We have been let down again. Surprisingly, however, the public and much of the media seem relatively blase. It is as if we think we will again get away with the mistakes, the slackness, the false assurances. After all, we have mostly in the past.ODT

But we yet again have a Government, full of high-sounding words, that struggles to perform. All border workers should have been vaccinated with the first dose or removed from the front line before now.

We again have a director-general of health who reassures us all is well and under control. But we again find some of those reassurances are false. – ODT

After the stinging criticisms from the Simpson-Roche and Kitteridge reports (both kept from the public for many months), we must have doubts about both the wider vaccine roll-out and about the extent of Government obfuscation.ODT

So it seems fair to ask what would be the bigger lie: an individual signing a false declaration about testing. Or the New Zealand public being told that testing was already mandatory and occurring. – Duncan Grieve

 Increasingly it looks as if the Government wants safer borders in the same way that I want to lose weight every New Year’s Day. That is, we would both be delighted if it happened, somehow, but there’s no real link between our goals and our subsequent actions. – Ben Thomas

We’re not looking after babies until we look after their mothers, and the story reminded me I am just one of countless women who have a tale of trauma about our maternity system; a system firmly based on the belief that baby-care is an innate female skill. Virginia Fallon

WHEN GOVERNMENTS EXTEND the state’s power to monitor their citizens’ ideas and activities, we should all be on our guard. Even when such extensions are introduced in response to a terrorist atrocity, we need to ask ourselves: would these new powers have prevented it – Chris Trotter

The state can punish Lone Wolves, but it cannot stop them. In attempting to minimise the terrorist threat, however, the state can eliminate our freedoms.Chris Trotter

Because people aren’t dying, it is tempting to confer retrospective competence upon a bureaucracy which, in the months since the decisive battle against Covid in March and April of 2020, has demonstrated almost unbelievable ineptitude. The government’s response to these repeated failures has been insufficiently forceful to prevent their recurrence. What’s more, in the absence of bold measures to reconfigure and reinvigorate them, our public institutions’ disturbing propensity to fuck things up may finally overwhelm Godzone’s good luck. – Chris Trotter

It’s good to know the Government and Health Ministry can still surprise us, even as a growing number of us thought the levels of ineptitude couldn’t possibly get any worse. – Mike Hosking

This is just sheer dumb luck that you can mess it up, know as little as they do, refuse to improve the way they have, and still be moderately unscathed. It’s little short of a miracle.  –

Surely in your quiet moments, you have to be wondering to yourself just how it is they can be this useless and still be in work.

They literally can’t deliver a thing. Not a house, not light rail, not a shovel-ready project, not a mental health programme, not a flu jab rollout, not a PPE rollout, not a Covid vaccine rollout, not a comprehensive secure border rollout. – Mike Hosking

This incompetence is absolutely outstanding. The stonewalling and obfuscating from the Government is appalling.

I think it is just there to prevent the world from seeing they haven’t got a bloody clue, and I maintain, looking at this record from the past year, that it is dumb pure luck. – Kerre McIvor

We need to be treading carefully when legislating against people’s thoughts. It shouldn’t be the Government’s role to dictate what people can and can’t say. – Simon Bridges

Including political belief in hate speech laws is a grave threat to free speech. There may be a case for laws against vilifying someone for immutable characteristics such as sex and age and disability but to extend that to religious and political belief is just staggering. – David Farrar

Much of the business community is keeping its head down and playing a wait and see game on new investments as they worry which sector is going to be the next to be negatively impacted by a government decision. Last week it was freedom campers and Air New Zealand. This week it’s livestock exporters. Next week? – Steven Joyce

A big part of this sense of drift is the growing realisation that the current Government, while good at stopping things, is having a real problem actually making anything happen. – Steven Joyce

Let’s be blunt. In the last nearly four years since the change of government, almost nothing of substance has been built. There have been announcements up the wazoo, some funding has been allocated, but there’s been precious little action. – Steven Joyce

Another part of the problem is that the obsessive anti-car lobby always carries outsize influence in Labour governments relative to their constituency. These are the people who believe a lane on the Harbour Bridge should be given over to cycling, or that all road-building induces more traffic. Which it sort of does, along with economic growth and jobs and houses and useful stuff like that. – Steven Joyce

But as Australia and other places accelerate faster than us out of this pandemic we wouldn’t want the view to take hold again that New Zealand is a place you leave in order to succeed. Over the last decade or so our country has built a reputation as a more vibrant well-connected happening place. We don’t want to lose that. – Steven Joyce

When the history of New Zealand’s management of Covid-19 comes to be written, it will record that almost every government action to protect the country happened too late, and then only after politicians and officials were forced into action because a sceptical journalist (there are still a handful, thank God) or alert opposition MP (not a lot of them either) exposed glaring deficiencies in their performance or flagrant porkies in what the country was being told. – Karl du Fresne

What matters, especially to a Government that seems to have lost its way and is treading water on more pressing issues, is that banning live exports will make a lot more people happy than it annoys, and the people who do get annoyed by the ban probably weren’t going to vote for them in the first place. – Craig Hickman

Activities that we farmers undertake without second thought may in fact be very large risks to our industry, and the live export of animals was one such risk. If enough people object to a farming practice, regardless of the facts of the situation, we slowly begin to lose our social license to operate. We lose public support, and it becomes increasingly more attractive for the Government of the day to take action. –  Craig Hickman

New Zealand figures other democracies can do the fighting. New Zealand can meanwhile sweet talk China and clean up businesswise. But it may be worse than that. I think woke culture is also to blame. “New Zealand’s foreign minister is dizzy with her new age earth worship and old nature gods. For her, China is an ally in the fight against global warming, which seems to her far more important than the danger of war. China would be laughing.Andrew

In general, the lifestyle leftist values autonomy and self-realisation more than tradition and community. He finds traditional values such as performance, diligence and effort uncool. This is especially true of the younger generation, who were so gently guided into life by caring, mostly well-off helicopter parents that they never got to know existential social anxieties and the pressures that arise from them. Dad’s small fortune and mum’s relationships at least provide so much security that even longer unpaid internships or professional failures can be bridged.

Since the lifestyle left has hardly come into personal contact with social issues, they are usually only marginally interested in them. So, they do want a fair and discrimination-free society, but the path to it no longer leads via the stodgy old topics from social economics, i.e. wages, pensions, taxes or unemployment insurance, but above all via symbolism and language. – Sahra Wagenknecht

A society in which people must affirm political doctrines in order to maintain employment and respectability is no better than one in which atheists must pretend to accept religion to get by.Spencer Case

When a particular expression is expected from everyone, refusing to go along is automatically a countermessage. There’s no possibility of opting out of significant political communication altogether. We’re in danger of ending up in a society like this. – Spencer Case

Politics has its place, but that place shouldn’t be everywhere, all the time. When politics is pervasive, it is worse. There must be space for political neutrality, and this means that we must be able to remain silent on political matters in most contexts without (too many) adverse social consequences.Spencer Case

Sadly, as society increasingly politicizes, political silence becomes harder to maintain. And there’s reason to worry that what we say can and will be used against us in a different sort of court. – Spencer Case

Even if it were possible to measure the strength of a man’s beliefs or fears on a valid and reproducible scale, the fact is that none of us either does or can spend his life examining the evidence for all that he believes or fears. At best, we can do so only intermittently and in bursts. We are obliged to take much on trust or according to our prejudices.Theodore Dalrymple

The fear of immunization against Covid-19 seems to me exaggerated and irrational. The fact that none of us can be fully rational does not obviate the need for us to try to be as rational as possible. – Theodore Dalrymple

If we were to take notice of a 1 in 936,364 chance of dying from something, all human activity whatsoever would cease. Even if half the cases were missed, the figure would still be 1 in 468,182. To adapt Dr. Johnson slightly, nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible dangers must first be avoided – Theodore Dalrymple

Child poverty stats are a joke. If grown-ups get collectively poorer, children get richer (relatively).  – Lindsay Mitchell

There is so much documented evidence, here and internationally, that shows benefit dependence – especially long-term – is detrimental to children’s outcomes.  Benefits erode family cohesion and they discourage work. – Lindsay Mitchell

Societies have always comprised collectives of minority groups and ALL members of ANY society can claim to be in a minority-be it age, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender (yes, males are now a minority in New Zealand), sexual orientation, socio-economic status, the list is endless. We can all claim to be a member of a minority-which is actually and factually, at the base of governmental problems. – Henry Armstrong

Yet, the Ardern government has deliberately opted for diversity over merit (skills, experience, competencies, and management ability), so is it any wonder they are floundering around achieving almost nothing-except of course, keeping Ardern in front of the cameras, giving her trademark, almost daily, theatrical performances?

 Representational politics based on minority interest groups, can only result in ignoring the needs of the majority, ie everyone else-but then majoritarian democracy is long dead in New Zealand under MMP. So, is this government acting in the best interests of ALL New Zealanders? – Henry Armstrong

On any of the well-accepted criteria of good governance, the Ardern government has to be described as an abject failure. Attempts to portray our shared history as being based on oppression, is ostensibly untrue. Attempts to portray “old white men” as being responsible for all of the issues which beset New Zealand society, are not only insulting, they are deeply offensive and divisive.

The treaty offered us all an opportunity to progress which, by and large, as citizens of New Zealand, of every ethnicity and creed, we have achieved. This government seems to be, through its total incompetence, determined to divide us.Henry Armstrong

However, we also need to talk about them because our language is falling victim to the ‘righteous’ indignation of those who confuse offence with harm and take it upon themselves to be offended on behalf of others. – Gavin Ellis

I believe it was the result of our language becoming sterilised, as more and more develop what I might call idiomatic mysophobia or a pathological fear of the use of certain contaminating words in case someone might have their feelings hurt.

Saying ‘man’ or ‘woman’ does not amount to a harmful failure to acknowledge those who nominate another gender identity. Frankly there are far more serious forms of discrimination against those groups and individuals that should concern us.Gavin Ellis

You’re either startlingly arrogant or thick or quite possibly in this case both, that you can stitch up something as shonky as this, not ask a single legal mind a single question, slip it out at Christmas, and then assume nothing is going to come back to bite you.  Add it to the list of stuff they’ve cocked up and we’ve paid for. If National and ACT are taking notes, they’re going to have an astonishing list set to go by 2023. – Mike Hosking

Instead of a system that refuses to tolerate their destructiveness, we get a system which rewards them with no-strings-attached cash and plenty of excuses for their defection from the rest of society. Nobody has explained to them that the social security system was born out of shared values, shared compassion for genuine need, and shared commitment to fund it. – Lindsay Mitchell

Someone needs to get – and someone needs to give – the correct message: you can’t keep biting the hand that feeds you. Don’t hold your breath for that someone to be the person in charge though. – Lindsay Mitchell

I don’t want any racist tirades about this issue, I want some reasoned discussion. And for me, it comes back to this. I believe in the concept that all people are equal, that in this country everybody’s vote is as important as everybody else’s. We are all New Zealanders. – Peter Williams

At the heart of our Judeo-Christian heritage are two words. Human dignity. Everything else flows from this. Seeing the inherent dignity of all human beings is the foundation of morality. It makes us more capable of love and compassion, of selflessness and forgiveness.

Because if you see the dignity and worth of another person, another human being, the beating heart in front of you, you’re less likely to disrespect them, insult or show contempt or hatred for them, or seek to cancel them, as is becoming the fashion these days. You’re less likely to be indifferent to their lives, and callous towards their feelings. – Scott Morrison

Appreciating human dignity also fosters our sense of shared humanity.This means that because we are conscious of our own failings and vulnerabilities, we can be more accepting and understanding of the failings and vulnerabilities of others.

True faith and religion is about confronting your own frailties. It’s about understanding your own and our humanity. The result of that is a humble heart, not a pious or judgemental one. – Scott Morrison

Human dignity is foundational to our freedom. It restrains government, it restrains our own actions and our own behaviour because we act for others and not ourselves, as you indeed do here this evening. That is the essence of morality. – Scott Morrison

Liberty is not borne of the state but rests with the individual, for whom morality must be a personal responsibility. – Scott Morrison

Freedom therefore rests on us taking personal responsibility for how we treat each other, based on our respect for, and appreciation of, human dignity. This is not about state power. This is not about market power. This is about morality and personal responsibility.

Now, morality is also then the foundation of true community. The place where we are valued; where we are unique; where we respect one another and contribute to and share one another’s lives. Where we pledge faithfulness to do together what we cannot achieve alone. – Scott Morrison

The determination to step up and play a role and to contribute as you are indeed doing this evening as part of this amazing organisation. Not leaving it to someone else, to another. That is the moral responsibility and covenant, I would argue, of citizenship. Not to think we can leave it to someone else. 

But there are warnings. Where we once understood our rights in terms of our protections from the state, now it seems these rights are increasingly defined by what we expect from the state. As citizens, we cannot allow what we think we are entitled to, to become more important than what we are responsible for as citizens. – Scott Morrison

Now together and individually we are each responsible for building and sustaining community, and we each have something unique to bring. Because community begins with the individual, not the state, not the marketplace. It begins with an appreciation of the unique dignity of each human being. It recognises that each individual has something to offer and that failure to appreciate and realise this, as a community, means our community is poorer and it is weaker.

In short, to realise true community we must first appreciate each individual human being matters. You matter. You, individually.

And in this context I would also argue we must protect against those forces that would undermine that in community, and I don’t just mean, as I’ve recently remarked, the social and moral corrosion caused by the misuse of social media, and the abuse that occurs there. But I would say it also includes the growing tendency to commodify human beings through identity politics.

We must never surrender the truth that the experience and value of every human being is unique and personal. You are more, we are more, individually, more than the things others try to identify us by, you by, in this age of identity politics. You are more than your gender, you are more than your race, you are more than your sexuality, you are more than your ethnicity, you are more than your religion, your language group, your age.

All of these of course contribute to who we may be and the incredible diversity of our society, particularly in this country, and our place in the world. But of themselves they are not the essence of our humanity.

When we reduce ourselves to a collection of attributes, or divide ourselves, even worse, on this basis, we can lose sight of who we actually are as individual human beings – in all our complexity, in all our wholeness and in all our wonder.

We then define each other if we go down that other path by the boxes we tick or don’t tick, rather than our qualities, skills and character. And we fail to see the value that other people hold as individuals, with real agency and responsibility. – Scott Morrison

So my message is simple: you matter, you make the difference, you make community. And together with family and marriage and the associations of clubs and community groups, faith networks, indeed the organisations we’re here celebrating tonight, and so much more, they are the further building blocks of community on that individual, providing the stability and the sinews of society that bind us one to another.

And upon that moral foundation of community we build our institutions of state. Within that moral context we operate our market place. – Scott Morrison

You matter. Community matters. In a democracy, it matters especially. It’s a tremendous source of strength and it’s why foreign actors seek to sow discord online, in many other ways, inflaming angers and hatreds and spreading lies and disinformation.

Of course, the right to disagree peacefully is at the heart of democracy, I’m not referring to that. But democracy is a shared endeavour, and the civility, trust and generosity, they are the currency that mediates our differences. – Scott Morrison 

Farmers need the best tools and technological solutions to grow enough crops – using fewer natural resources to produce sufficient high-quality food, respect the environment, safeguard consumers and support themselves.  Allowing them to use the right tools at the right time for the right crops will assist them do this.  Helping farmers build a stronger and more resilient agricultural economy, requires an open and transparent dialogue and collaboration between scientists, academia, innovators, politicians, regulators, NGOs and all along the food value chain from farmers to consumers.Mark Ross


Quotes of the month

01/02/2021

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 deep understanding of how agriculture works. If they did understand, there’d be much less chance they’d make laws that didn’t account for something as fundamental and unalterable as the changing of seasons. – Stephen Barnard

But “mother” is a fundamental biological, emotional, familial reality. It captures the irreplaceable bond between a baby and the woman who bore her in her womb. That others can be excellent guardians — a fact no one disputes — can’t justify extirpating Mom from our vocabulary. (For that matter, the political erasure of “dad” is also dehumanizing, because it ­entails the loss of our capacity to describe relationships that define what it means to be fully human.) – Abigail Shrier

By all means, call people what they prefer. But language in the law, by definition, ushers words into action. Words grant rights or take them away. Words can enhance or diminish status, placing people and concepts beyond the bounds of legal protection. . . That’s where we’re headed, isn’t it? Erasing “mothers,” and “women,” because the concepts are insufficiently inclusive to gender ideologues. The rights women struggled to win become undone, paradoxically, in the name of ­inclusion. – Abigail Shrier

The problem we have online is that an algorithm decides what we want to see, which ends up creating a simplistic, binary view of society. It becomes a case of either you’re with us or against us. And if you’re against us, you deserve to be ‘cancelled’.

It’s important that we’re exposed to a wide spectrum of opinion, but what we have now is the digital equivalent of the medieval mob roaming the streets looking for someone to burn. So it is scary for anyone who’s a victim of that mob and it fills me with fear about the future.Rowan Atkinson

Tarrases, on the other hand, are rare and getting rarer. Tarras with its tiny store and its tinier school. Tarras with its searing summers and its biting winters. Tarras with its bleached grasses, its merinos, its huge stations, its distilled New Zealandness. Leave it alone, you greedsters. Do you hear me? Leave it bloody well alone. – Joe Bennett

We all sense something is wrong. Our money is worth nothing to the banks. There is a rush to convert cash into assets. Houses selling as soon as they list. Those who cannot buy assets are just spending their cash. Every credit-fuelled recovery has ended in a recession. Richard Prebble

We are not allowing people to come into Scotland now without an essential purpose, which would apply to him, just as it applies to everybody else. Coming to play golf is not what I would consider an essential purpose. – Nicola Sturgeon

Rock-bottom mortgage rates, comparatively low unemployment, and our freedoms from Covid restrictions are there to be relished this summer, but perhaps not taken for granted. – Tom Pullar-Strecker

Of course, any tax is popular with the people who won’t have to pay it and who think the proceeds will be spent on, or at least trickle down to, them; but given human nature, the main attraction of the tax is probably more that of the certainty of inflicting pain on others than of the hope of benefiting oneself. – Theodore Dalrymple

The purpose of the wealth tax is only tangentially to raise money at a particularly difficult time . . . The purpose behind it is thus social reform, not the meeting of an economic necessity. The crisis is an opportunity: to advance the centralization of power and the permanent boosting of government powers vis-à-vis the population.

There is, however, one small potential fly in the ointment of my argument, namely that I haven’t fully worked out an alternative. But whatever the problem, incipient totalitarianism isn’t the solution.Theodore Dalrymple

Until a few months ago, American elections were the model for the world: fair, transparent and the results implemented. That reputation was undermined tonight, when armed protestors targeted elected representatives and tried to stop the ‘sacred ritual’, as it was described by President-elect Joe Biden, of confirming the election result.

That we are witnessing such scenes speaks to the extent that President Trump has degraded his office – and our politics. And I write this as a lifelong Republican. His behaviour since the election has not been for the benefit of the American people, but for the ego of a man who cannot bear to lose. His narcissism and obsession with winning cost the GOP two Senate seats in Georgia last night, handing full control of Congress to the Democrats. Today, it cost all of us our deepest privilege of being citizens of a country where ballots cast do not result in bullets shot. – Kate Andrews

This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election. – President George W. Bush

Note that I say the politics of race rather than race relations, because relationships between people of different ethnicities in New Zealand – including Maori and Pakeha – remain overwhelmingly respectful and harmonious. But how long this will continue, when ideologically driven agitators are doing their best to create grievance and division, is a moot point. – Karl du Fresne

There are environmental impacts associated with the production of food, period. The dairy industry does have an environmental impact, but if you look at it in the context of the entire U.S. enterprise, it’s fairly minimal. Associated with that minimal impact is a very substantial provision of high quality, digestible, and well-balanced nutrients for human consumption. Robin White

I always advocate for higher wages but there is a Catch-22, when the minimum wage is increased we see workers’ hours cut, or they lose their jobs. – Chloe Ann-King

Whether you are individualistic or collectivist, liberal or conservative, politics is not a culture war, it is about electing governments to act on our behalf to better people’s lives. It’s not just about one person’s outsized ego, it is about voters and their aspirations. That is democracy’s strength — and why it will endure. – Steven Joyce

So not insubstantial sums from Pharmac’s budget are already being spent for training when they should be used for medines. For Maori and anybody else who needs them. – Lindsay Mitchell 

And while, despite my best sewing efforts, little bits of shame still peek through sometimes, I can comfortably say that that’s not my, or other disabled people’s shame to carry.

There is nothing wrong with having a body that looks or works differently.

Our bodies are beautiful, just as they are.

We are worthy of love, just as we are.Erin Gough

Thus literal-mindedness is the enemy of freedom of expression, and represents also a disturbing loss of mental sophistication. But in any case, attachment to freedom of expression as an ideal seems to have lost much of its salience in the western world, having been replaced as a desideratum by that of virtue, moreover virtue of a peculiar but easily achievable kind, not that of acting well, but that of thinking and expressing the right thoughts. The certifiably right thoughts, which can change in an instant, are those that are in conformity with the moral enthusiasms of the moment. –Theodore Dalrymple

Antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult are, of course, normal phenomena of human expression, and furthermore are often justified. Without them expressions of more favourable attitudes would probably not be possible either, for they would mean nothing without the possibility of expression of their opposites. Even to contemplate outlawing such normal human reactions displays an alarmingly totalitarian mindset, all the more so in combination with the Scottish government’s desire that people should report so-called hate crime to the police. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia seem to be its models. –  Theodore Dalrymple

Trying to eliminate antipathy, dislike, ridicule, and insult from the human heart and mind is a task to make that of Sisyphus seem like an afternoon stroll: precisely the type of task that authoritarian governments love, for it gives them the locus standi to interfere ever more intimately with the lives of their subjects. Hatred is hydra-headed, the task is never done, it grows with its very elimination, or rather the attempts by government at its elimination. Failure is the greatest success, since it requires ever more of the same, namely control over society. – Theodore Dalrymple

Nations rely on institutions: political institutions, the public service, universities, companies, churches, families. These all have different roles and duties that serve the societies that encompass them. And part of their purpose is to mould the individuals that pass through them, imbuing them with values that ensure they serve their institution and community instead of just themselves. Simon Bridges

The people who occupy our institutions increasingly understand those institutions not as moulds that ought to shape their behavior and character but as platforms that allow them greater individual exposure and enable them to hone their personal brands. – Yuval Levin

I emerged from what could have been an ordeal, with the knowledge instead, that goodness, kindness, courage, and laughter are as much part of our world as all the misery we read of in the media. I had been reminded that these are the things that keep the world turning, not politics and mayhem. Happy memories and gratitude and the knowledge of the goodness of life, are the lasting after- effects of another profound experience with which life has gifted me. In that alternative universe where goodness triumphs, all is well  and all manner of things are well, as Mother Julian reminded us.Valerie Davies

Coarse speech is as old as language. What has changed is that the decline in manners and the decline of religious observance – two phenomena that are probably connected – has obliterated the distinction between the vulgar and the polite. Language once considered unacceptable in public is now the norm, especially if it’s about sex or religion. Television has blazed a trail here. ‘Your’ ABC, for instance, never tires of having its ‘comedians’ or characters in its tedious attempts at drama refer to God or Christ in some expletive-tainted phrase. The ABC is scrupulous, when anything supposedly offensive to Aborigines is coming up, in interpolating an unctuously-voiced ‘warning,’, but never feels obliged to warn Christians when a torrent of blasphemy is on the way. – Christopher Akehurst

Statistics and everyday observation show that the future of Christianity in Australia is far from rosy. Christians are more liable to be mocked than respected. Semi-pagan beliefs about Gaia are filling the vacuum of faith. We can already see that, along with our belief in our religion, we have lost our belief and our pride in the uniqueness and, yes, superiority of our culture. That way lies extinction. Thanks for 2021? Not specially.Christopher Akehurst

What this all means is that bleeding heart versions of our history (Australia’s John Howard called it “black armband history”) need to be treated with great caution. Those who push the line that everything was lovely in Aotearoa until the colonists arrived, and that they were responsible for depriving Maori of their ancestral lands, are telling selected and often misleading bits of our story.  In reality, Maori society was in a parlous state when colonists arrived in significant numbers in the 1840s and 1850s. Yes, governors, politicians and settlers wanted access to Maori land. Some cut corners acquiring it. But even the most scrupulous land purchasers found many parts of Maori society a minefield of ancient hostilities and were worn down by conflicting assertions about historical ownership. It needs to be remembered that while the wars of the 1860s did terrible damage to what remained of the Maori economy, much damage had already been done to it by other Maori before the colonists arrived. –   Michael Bassett

Teaching a fair and accurate version of New Zealand history won’t be easy unless the Ministry of Education seizes control of the process and ensures that it doesn’t become the preserve of single-minded fanatics claiming to be historians but with axes to grind. They have the potential to stir unwarranted racial animosity in a country which, for much of its existence, tried to be fair to all people according to the norms of the day. – Michael Bassett

Believers in conspiracy, however, would rather be the victims of a plot than of chance because plots make the world seem pliable to human will, whereas chance by definition escapes human control. A world pliable to human will, even where malign, is more understandable, and therefore less ontologically frightening, than one in which things happen that no human ever intended to happen. – Theodore Dalrymple

ns, none of them pleasant. And we do not live in times of social resignation or passivity. We have already gone through the revolution of rising expectations and reached that of rising, or risen, entitlements. When something to which one believes oneself entitled is not forthcoming, one is more aggrieved than by living at a far lower level without such entitlements. –Theodore Dalrymple

In summary we may say that unfunded government and personal expenditure, which creates the illusion of wealth and social security, necessitates low interest rates, low interest rates favour asset inflation, asset inflation favours the already possessing classes, which in turn leads to social rigidity and frustration down below in the lower reaches of society. Social classes rigidify into castes, and many people become fatalistic without contentment. But fatalism without contentment can undergo a sudden change, the emotional equivalent of a gestalt-switch, and become insensate rage. – Theodore Dalrymple

Taking full advantage of free education, being ambitious to enjoy a full life, making sacrifices for the long term pay-off; all obvious actions totally lacking in the no-hoper sector in our varyingly soft western societies. Thus, at the cost to the majority, governments insist on doing for these failures what they make no effort to do for themselves.Sir Bob Jones

Why did one have to switch energy providers and set a mobile phone alert for bin day, only to find out you can not set an alert because your phone storage is full, so you decide to pay for more storage (until you die), only to find you don’t know your password. By the time you retrieve your password you are sixty-five and howling into the abyss. – Susie Steiner

This cannot end well.  With the New Zealand economy shut in its bubble, Covid-19 ravaging all our international trading partners, local business suffering and unemployment rising, the market is propped up solely by the historically low interest rates upon which all profit projections are based.  But even a small change to those interest rates could prove devastating to many of my new clients.  There may be no greater fools left.  Because in 2021 all the shoe shine boys have become property developers … – Guest Poster at Kiwiblog

Simply put, the opening of the border does not depend on anything that happens in New Zealand but on the virus being brought under control globally. Like every other multilateral issue from climate change to free trade, that has little to do with what happens in Wellington and everything to do with decisions and operational competence in the likes of Washington, Beijing, Brussels, Brasilia and New Delhi. On the border, we are ultimately a policy taker, not a policy maker. – Matthew Hooton

But under the Ardern government, old-fashioned notions about property rights, due process and the rule of law are susceptible to being overturned when protesters can wave the Treaty of Waitangi and toss words like “colonialism” and “stolen” into their rhetoric. – Bob Edlin

I don’t think people realise the intergenerational commitment they’re making, in terms of totally removing choice over the land in the future, unless some other magic [CO2 sequestration] technology springs up. – Dave Frame

From the New Zealand perspective, there is not enough land to plant forests that would be equivalent to the amount of emissions that we’re emitting. – David Hall

History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbours. We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward. – Joe Biden

Let’s begin to listen to one another again. Hear one another. See one another. Show respect to one another. Politics doesn’t have to be a raging fire, destroying everything in its path. Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated, and even manufactured. – Joe Biden

But the answer is not to turn inward, to retreat into competing factions, distrusting those who don’t look like — look like you or worship the way you do or don’t get their news from the same source as you do. We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus — rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.

If we show a little tolerance and humility, and if we are willing to stand in the other person’s shoes — as my mom would say — just for a moment, stand in their shoes. Because here’s the thing about life: there’s no accounting for what fate will deal you. Some days, when you need a hand. There are other days when we’re called to lend a hand. That’s how it has to be. That’s what we do for one another. – Joe Biden

I used to think the PM so loved her position and the cheers of the adoring crowd that she would not do anything that risked losing or lessening her position at the pinnacle of admiration. I have now moved away from that to the much less charitable view that she doesn’t know what to do. She has no real vision of what she wants New Zealand to be like, beyond the usual clichés. – John Bishop

She is the Eva Peron of New Zealand politics: warm, compassionate, caring, kind, smiling, seemingly ever good-humoured, but her Government is piecemeal, fragmented, without an overall direction and seemingly without coherent analysis of issues and a strong strategy. – John Bishop

Her champions in the media, and there are many of them, are sycophants, excuse makers, processors of handouts evidencing uncritical laziness – and that’s without going into those who are openly biased in the left’s favour. John Bishop

What has happened to us? Why do we find noise a necessity? Why do we create soundtracks for our every move? Why does a lady walk past my house at 10.30pm every other night with her phone on speaker, tuned into the radio? Why, twice a week, does a guy wander past around midnight, shouting into his phone, his voice ringing out through the dark as he does circuits of the streets around my home? Why can’t we just be with the world, and listen to the music being made around us every day by the natural inhabitants of the earth? –  Michelle Langstone

The paradox, of course, is that to achieve “equity” you have to first take away equality for individuals who were born in the wrong identity group. Equity means treating individuals unequally so that groups are equal. – Andrew Sullivan

Take the trans question. Most decent people support laws that protect transgender people from discrimination — which, after the Bostock decision, is already the law of the land. But this is not enough for Biden. He takes the view that the law should go further and insist that trans women are absolutely indistinguishable from biological women — which erases any means of enforcing laws that defend biological women as a class. If your sex is merely what you say it is, without any reference to biological reality, then it is no longer sex at all. It’s gender, period. It’s socially constructed all the way down. – Andrew Sullivan

You don’t get to unite the country by dividing it along these deep and inflammatory issues of identity. And you don’t achieve equality of opportunity by enforcing its antithesis. – Andrew Sullivan

Even the very rich now feel a psychological or social pressure to do something for money, even without any economic imperative. I leave it to others to decide whether the disappearance of a leisure class is a good or a bad thing, though viscerally I feel that, overall, it is bad, inasmuch as a leisure class is able in theory to devote itself to the higher activities of a civilization. When the rich (of whom there are more than ever) involve themselves nowadays in conspicuous consumption, it is usually in bad taste. Good taste requires discipline and knowledge, which few are either able or prepared to exercise or acquire. – Theodore Dalrymple

 …the more that activities, particularly managerial, are professionalized, the more amateurs—that is to say, people who do things for their own sake, for the sheer enjoyment of them, or for the public good—are decried and, even more, feared. People whose career depends on doing nothing useful for high pay have much to fear from those who do something useful for nothing. – Theodore Dalrymple

Is this obstructionism a manifestation of stupidity or malice (of course, the two are not strictly incompatible, malice often lending a certain cunning to stupidity)? I have every respect for the stupidity of British—as of other—bureaucrats, but I think stupidity alone does not quite cover the case. The fact is that, at some level of consciousness, the bureaucracy realizes that a vast national campaign using volunteers is an existential threat to their careers. If much can be achieved for nothing, why is so little so often achieved for so much? Who knows where things might end if voluntarism were allowed to achieve something? Social solidarity might increase without the intermediary of the state to inhibit it, and that would be a terrible disaster that has at all costs to be headed off. – Theodore Dalrymple

Be that as it may, the fact is that even if an intelligent person in authority were to try to do something to put an end to the idiocy, he would soon be defeated by the unintelligent, for in any large bureaucracy it is unintelligence, at least in the absence of an end other than the very institutional survival that protects careers and guarantees pensions, that emerges triumphant. Stupidity multiplies unnecessary procedure, intelligence decreases it; therefore stupidity is the more functional from the bureaucratic point of view. One way of defeating intelligence and benevolent intention was long ago discovered and summarized by the Spanish colonial administrator who received his orders from Madrid: Obedezco, pero no cumplo. I obey, but I do not fulfill.Theodore Dalrymple

If you happened to be lucky enough to have a house 20 years ago, you’re living in clover. You didn’t? You’re screwed – absolutely screwed. The Government doesn’t even want to fix it. The biggest single issue facing the country is we’ve got an underclass [with] not a dog’s chance of moving into their own home, they cannot live comfortably on the current [average] income… it’s a serious problem. – Don Brash

In brutal terms, there are votes to be won in a broken housing market. And this week is the first week of the 2023 election campaign. – Jonathan Milne

It’s easy to laugh about the latest fads of the woke, and to cheer as smug Guardianistas disappear up their own purity spirals, but the assault on reality from transgender extremists is serious. The public have a right to know the truth about crime, and accurate sentencing and reporting is necessary for a cohesive and functioning democracy. One has to question why the feelings of trans offenders matter more than the rights of their victims. – Jo Bartosch

We can still have social media, just as we still have railways and energy companies. However, they must be equitable, accountable, competitive and pay their dues (be they taxes or fees to reuse material others have paid to create). In other words they must be safe vehicles we are happy to have on our roads.Gavin Ellis

This in turn brings us to the value that we place on human life. We live in an age, after all, in which we hope to wage war without losing a single soldier. In a sense, this must represent a moral advance over a time when generals could send thousands, even tens of thousands, of young men to their deaths for the sake of a military advance of not more than ten yards of muddy ground. And the fact the lives saved by strict sanitary measures that are destructive of everyday life will be mostly those of over eighty will not be allowed to enter into the public debate because to allow it to do so would be to devalue the lives of the old: even if, in our hearts and our daily life, we do not really value them. – Theodore Dalrymple

Too often, National has talked about its economic priorities as if these are the end goals in and of themselves – bigger economy, fewer regulations, smaller government, stronger businesses.  On their own, these things aren’t what is really important. They are only important because they are what ultimately drives prosperity, creates jobs and lifts incomes. Judith Collins

A strong economy means more opportunities for New Zealanders. A strong economy is what will ultimately help lift children out of poverty. A strong economy means more money to invest in our health system. A strong economy will help our kids into their first job and give them the chance to do things and be things we’ve never even dreamed of.  That’s what matters – the things that a strong economy allows us to do. That is why a strong economy matters. –Judith Collins

The old media had needed happy customers. The goal of post-journalism, according to Mir, is to “produce angry citizens.” – Martin Gurri

The intent of post-journalism was never to represent reality or inform the public but to arouse enough political fervor in readers that they wished to enter the paywall in support of the cause. This was ideology by the numbers—and the numbers were striking. – Martin Gurri

The history-reframing mission is now in the hands of a deeply self-righteous group that has trouble discerning the many human stopping places between true and false, good and evil, objective and subjective. Martin Gurri

To be sure, producing and burning coal and oil have significant environmental impacts. But what goes unmentioned are the extensive benefits of affordable, reliable energy provided by coal and oil to make cheap electricity, power cars and underpin a modern economy.

The ironic kicker is that economic wealth allows a nation to regulate and clean up the environment: its air, soil, water and emissions. Coal and oil are not green, but the wealth they create cleans up the environment. And, only wealthy nations such as the U.S., U.K. and Germany have been able to afford to begin to transition beyond coal for power generation.  –  Scott Tinker

So why not just switch from dirty coal and oil to clean and renewable solar and wind? Two reasons: They are not renewable and they are not clean. Sure, during non-cloudy days and windy times, the wind and the sun can be captured and turned into electricity. But because the amount of energy is not “dense,” it takes scads of land and collectors — solar panels and wind turbines — to capture it.  

It also takes oodles of batteries to back up intermittent solar and wind so that everything keeps running uninterrupted. There is also replacement. The panels, turbines and batteries wear out after 10 to 20 years, and the metals, chemicals and toxic materials required to make them must be constantly mined, manufactured and disposed of in landfills. Coupled with some carbon dioxide emissions associated with those processes, solar and wind are neither renewable nor clean.  – Scott Tinker

All Maori children have mixed ethnicity. But before they are Maori/Pakeha/Pacific/Asian/other they are tiny human beings. Tiny human beings whose best interest the grown-ups should be able to agree upon free from political agendas. – Lindsay Mitchell

But “racial equity” is emphatically not the same as treating every person as of equal value regardless of their ethnicity. It does not mean, in the words of Martin Luther King (who must surely be turning in his grave, not least by being given a shout-out in that Biden speech) judging someone by the content of their character rather than by the colour of their skin. It is the precise opposite. It is a doctrine which holds that white people are intrinsically racist; that the west is therefore intrinsically racist; and that therefore black people in the west should be privileged over white.Melanie Phillips

There is more than a modicum of truth in the old joke that the definition of a ‘racist’ is anyone who is winning an argument with a leftist.  When a woke leftist’s evidence and logic don’t stack up, a bit of name-calling (‘racist’, ‘bigot’, ‘deplorable’, etc.) will enable them to seize the presumed moral high ground and thereby claim victory, at least to their own satisfaction.  Moral one-upmanship is the woke leftist’s go-to position: ‘I’m good, you’re bad, so just shut-up’. If you’re of the Left, it’s the all-purpose, not-so-sotto-voce debate clincher.  – Phil Shannon

For those of us in the media, there’s a real challenge to confront: a wave of censorship that seeks to silence conversation, to stifle debate, to ultimately stop individuals and societies from realizing their potential. This rigidly enforced conformity, aided and abetted by so-called social media, is a straitjacket on sensibility. Too many people have fought too hard in too many places for freedom of speech to be suppressed by this awful woke orthodoxy. – Rupert Murdoch

I firmly believe that government needs to be as responsible with your funds as you are, and it seems to me that Covid has been used as a cover for a plethora of other projects and spending initiatives that we are not able to cover through tax revenue. – Michael Woodhouse

The events of this week should lead to permanent improvements in MIQ and if nothing else, wipe away the smugness for a while. – Audrey Young

My child’s right to see the Wiggles doesn’t trump anyone’s right to say a final goodbye to a loved one. – Vera Alves

But nonetheless it is interesting to see how quickly the local NZ narrative might be shifting from congratulation at a job well done towards fear of being left behind. New Zealand’s political decision makers are surely aware that this is a race, with no prizes for mediocre performance. – Point of Order

Those people who won’t gave a vaccine or don’t believe Covid is real they so are dumb right?  Some of them will die because of their beliefs, some of them will infect others because of them. Science, ‘big pharma’, ‘jews,’ the government is lying to them. These people with little understanding of virology or epidemiology know better than those who have devoted their lives to studying these subjects..

But should any of us be surprised that when Covid is happening before our eyes, some people choose to close theirs ? Other kinds of anti-science arguments are now part of our culture and are now considered not only acceptable but “radical”. – Suzanne Moore

So if biological reality does not exist (biological essentialism), or indeed science which sees us as mammals (we are mammals not slugs or fish or is this now controversial to say so ?) then  we are to understand that sex is not binary and that we are not a sexually dimorphic species.  If women don’t exist really what is feminism for?  Apparently it’s for everyone . Except obviously woman like me.Suzanne Moore

 I’d be worried about the humanity of an individual who didn’t consider the ethics involved; so let me share my perspective. For a start, sanctions do not work. No tyrant has moderated his behaviour once they were imposed. Cuba, North Korea, Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and dozens of African kleptocrats provide a mountain of evidence for the thesis that tyrants are impervious to external economic forces. Governments that are subject to political and economic pressures at home can be bullied into behaving better domestically. South Africa is the most obvious example but there are others. Such niceties are utterly ineffective against true dictatorships such as Cuba, North Korea and China. – Damien Grant

If sanctions worked imposing a short-term economic harm on ourselves to help free an oppressed people would be the right thing to do. But they don’t. They impoverish the civilian population, sometimes resulting in their death, for no material advantage. – Damien Grant

Today, the super-power of human rights abuses is China and the outgoing American Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, declared that China was committing a genocide against the Uyghur. Surely if we are ever to draw the line, it must be at genocide?  To understand why the answer is no, consider that we do not trade with a nation. We trade with firms, individuals, collectives or whatever enterprise has been established to undertake commerce.  To refuse to trade with the factories, farms and supermarkets in China because of the crimes committed by those running the Communist Party is to engage in collective responsibility and punishment. We are harming one person for the crimes of another and doing nothing to assist the victims while the perpetrators live in undiminished luxury. – Damien Grant

While threats of economic pain for their citizens do not deter dictatorships, those running these regimes have demonstrated a desire for respectability. China in particular appears highly sensitive to criticism. We may be economically impotent but our voice carries a heavy moral weight. We should use it.

If Beijing elects to retaliate that is beyond our control; but while I believe we should trade with China, we should not become a vassal state in the process.Damien Grant

In 2021 numbers in the underclass continue to accelerate. And they will keep on doing so do until parents are held to account for raising the children they bring into the world. But of course this solution doesn’t have a good political ring to it in 2021 any more than it did in 2008. Those children, however, are usually the ones who never get a good education, whose health is more often neglected, and who are more likely to end up at the bottom of the heap, and consequently unlikely to enjoy equal opportunities, let alone have any chance of an equal outcome from life. – Michael Bassett

Myths are welcome comforters, but have never been a sure guide for the future. The second Ardern government passed its 100 days this week. It seems to be propagating a new myth: that kindness is enough. But if you are a child at the bottom of the heap, kindness can be rare indeed. – Michael Bassett


Quotes of the year

01/01/2021

Work without hope is as bad as hope without work. We need both the shovel and the inspiration. –Nikki Verbeet

At heart, both the excessive respect and disrespect for Nature are the products of sentimentality, a sentimentality that leads to a failure to make proper distinctions. Both the excessively respectful and the disrespectful suppose that Nature has intentions toward us, good or evil as the case may be. Excessive respect supposes that Nature is so benevolent that nothing in it can harm Man, provided only that he is worshipful toward it; disrespect supposes that Man knows best and can perfect not only himself but the universe. Theodore Dalrymple

But, on the Left, casting our adversaries as stupid bigots strikes me as obviously misguided. Likewise, our tendency to lord it over others with a hyper-abundance of certainty in our superior virtue is obnoxious; our refusal to contemplate the possibility of good faith among those with whom we disagree, alienating. Liberal condescension, paired with an unforgiving approach to ideological purity, risks sending perfectly well-meaning people into the arms of our adversaries or to retreat from politics altogether. – Phil Quin

So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg. So, if you win, come up, accept your little award, thank your agent and your god, and fuck off.Ricky Gervais

It’s easy to understand how expensive gift bags and millions of dollars would make anyone feel qualified to lecture other people on public policy, private morality, global warming, or the complex geopolitical issues in the Middle East. – Bridget Phetasy

We are cautious around the bereaved, as though pain is contagious, as though keeping a distance will make the loss smaller. Yet again, I find the opposite to be true – the nearness of things, the nearness of others, is really all that matters for now. We move from numbness to the littleness of the everyday, knowing that this is life going on, that no grand gestures are needed, that compassion is in a nod, a wave, a smile, all the gentle tokens. I count my blessings. Suzanne Moore

Freedom of opinion is a very good thing, but so is freedom from opinion—since a very high proportion of opinions, especially among publicly funded academic intellectuals, do not even rise to the value of drunken barroom talk. Oh for a world free from opinion!—or at least freer from opinion.

Alas, the social media have provided an echo chamber for cranks, monomaniacs, extremists, psychotics, enthusiasts of every stripe, the unheard whose prior muteness was their greatest virtue and highest quality, the echo chamber being the whole world. – Theodore Dalrymple

There are a range of ways that have always been used to hold people to account. We’ve now added these extra dimension where some people actually want the total destruction of that person. – Russell Blackford

Nevertheless there’s been no wars between nations this century. The last was in the 1990s between Armenia and Azerbaijan over a disputed territory. Knowing each country I’d heavily back the Dannevirke rugby club against both their armies. – Sir Bob Jones

In other words: all knowledge has a hierarchy. Inversion of this hierarchy turns children who were ready to begin learning “into passive parrots able to recite – and unable to think.” Teaching conclusions about complex processes without the platform of knowledge to understand or assess how those conclusions were derived violates that hierarchy, rendering students able to repeat the propaganda those conclusions, but not able to understand how they were arrived at. They become simply Pavlovian puppets. Peter Cresswell 

There is an insidious crusade afoot aiming at controlling what the public sees, hears, thinks and believes. This project, which seeks hegemony in various Western cultures, is no less pervasive and thoroughgoing than previous attempts at thought control by totalitarian and theocratic regimes.

But since this campaign to control the narrative has no name, and does not promote an explicit ideology, its significance tends to be underestimated, even by those who oppose the many attempts to police language and thought. – Frank Furedi

The paradox is that while an increasing number of people reject the idea of the Christian God in favour of a range of secular belief systems, Christian values still underpin Western concepts of justice, freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It’s no coincidence that the world’s freest, fairest and most prosperous countries all have Christian roots.

Granted, Christian teaching has been twisted and corrupted for reasons that have little to do with God and a lot to do with human vanity, greed and the desire to exercise power and control. But although no longer a Christian myself, I don’t think we should discount the possibility that our God-fearing forebears recognised transcendental truths that we, the best-educated generations in human history, are too myopic or conceited to see. – Karl du Fresne

For those New Zealanders not lucky enough to earn a politician’s salary, a five dollar note represents a meal, or the bus fare for a job interview. That small sheet of polypropylene can be the difference between hunger and happiness, poverty and opportunity. – Louis Houlbrooke

If climate change alarmism is the new religion, then scepticism – or denialism, to use the more damning term favoured by climate-change activists – is the new heresy.

There’s a disturbing whiff of totalitarianism in the way this secular religion permits no dissent. If you believe that it’s dangerous in a democracy to allow one view to hold complete and unchallenged sway, denialism starts to look like an honourable stance, purely on principle.Karl du Fresne

Environmental problems are certainly real, but alarmists do a disservice to the cause of tackling those challenges when they use cataclysmic language to describe the near future. . . . Environmental challenges should be taken seriously. And just as with so many other problems humanity has faced, environmental problems should be solvable given the right technology and spreading prosperity. The world will still exist a dozen years from now. – Chelsea Follett

Americans wrongly think the rest of the world is hurting us with unfair trade practices, but New Zealand really is hurt badly by the unfair trade practices of others (which protect farmers in rich countries.) – Scott Sumner

Sir, Simon Pegg states that he and other well-paid people should pay more tax (Thunderer, Jan 23). Fine and dandy, but he should do it first. Whether in the US or the UK, it is possible to pay more than the legal minimum in tax. Both countries will send thank-you letters. When Pegg shows us his, perhaps we’ll listen to his calls. Until then, I’m not bothering. –Tim Worstall

Who cares about being accurate. The point of being a journalist is to tell people what to do. But after twenty years of propaganda the punters are still not getting the message, so Faye Flam (her real name) thinks it’s time to stop using “climate change” and switch back to “global warming”. Apparently a five year old Yale Study suggests that it’s more scary, and Flam has discovered it just in time to wring a bit more propaganda value out of the Australian fires. “Lucky”. eh? –  Jo Nova (Hat Tip Not PC)

To make housing affordable, we need to liberalise our planning regime, incentivise councils for housing development and, if privately, fund new infrastructure. If we don’t implement these reforms, Demographia’s future reports will continue to document our housing crisis. – Oliver Hartwich

I knew what I wanted and I knew that you’ve got to do a bit of work to get there. – Paul Whakatutu 

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

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

Rapidly expanding welfare is Labour’s record. It flies in the face of all of the posturing on well-being. Hard metrics don’t lie. Entrenching dependence and sapping the will to work by surrendering on sanctions and failing to enforce work-test obligations is simply indefensible.Mike Yardley

There is something speech restrictions can do; in fact, it’s the only thing they can do. They can help you win political arguments by limiting the parameters of discussion. That’s assuming the argument is able to take place at all.

Speech restrictions aren’t a solution to racism. What they are is an expression of reactionary tribal politics, and a solution to dissenting thought.  – Dane Giraud

Capitalism is the best system for creating wealth we’ve been able to find in the last 300 to 400 years, and we should want to create wealth. But it has no regard for how that wealth is created, so for instance it can be created by children going up chimneys and working in factories. Nor does it care how wealth is distributed. So we’ve always known that there needs to be other systems that deal with those two issues. – David Kirk

Hallelujah! A victory for sanity and the reasonable belief of most New Zealanders that personal mobility in the form of cars, trucks and motorbikes will continue to be the norm well into the future, even as the fuel that drives those vehicles radically changes for the better. – Steven Joyce

When they’re older, Anahera and Māia can look at that image knowing they are descendants of the Māori chief in it and the English-born photographer who took it. However, I hope they will recognise the multifaceted aspects of their whakapapa and understand they are first and foremost themselves – individuals who have the freedom to determine their own paths in life without being constrained by historical events that occurred before they were born.

That’s right, none of us was there when the treaty was signed, nor were we there when some of our ancestors stole land from some of our other ancestors, and I’m talking about my Māori ancestors – don’t get me started on the Pākehā ones. Complicated isn’t it? And, no, I’m not proposing “we are one people”, aka Hobson’s Pledge. How about “we are individuals”?Steve Elers

It’s customary these days to criticise politics as too tribal but, the case of the New Zealand Labour Party, at least, it’s the wrong analogy: in practice, it’s less tribe than sect.

Whereas tribes tend to protect their own, and forgive individual sins in service of the collective good, a sect is unforgiving of perceived heretics. Shane Te Pou

Children in arts-rich schools do significantly better at the basics than schools which focus on measuring literacy and numeracy outcomes. The arts build the key skills that employers value most highly: risk taking, collaboration, curiosity and an ability to think across rather than in disciplinary silos.

The arts train the imagination. The imagination is vital for individual and social well-being because we can only make our own and others’ lives better if we can imagine a different, a better world. The arts are carriers of hope, and young people need hope like a fish needs unpolluted water.

When schools deny children the arts, they deny them their imagination. We know the arts train us to think critically, to see things in different and multiple ways, that creativity is part of the puzzle of making democracy work. Education systems that train children how to answer questions rather than question answers leads us into the traps of demagogues and their easy recipes. –  Peter O’Connor

But the point is most Kiwis – most humans – want to earn what they own, not take it from those who already have it. – Kerre McIvor

We’ve become so consumed by climate change, we’ve lost the ability to think rationally. Which is why everyone is running around panicking about Huawei and no one is wondering about a much bigger problem: where their next sandwich is coming from. – Jeremy Clarkson

I’ve said many times before I’m proud of my whakapapa, I’m proud of my English, my British heritage. Ultimately… I’m a New Zealander first and foremost … if I think about Waitangi Day, what I see is a day that yes, that is historic in its significance but is ultimately, at its most basic, about good relations between New Zealanders. – Simon Bridges

For whereas the Left generally prefers to discharge its moral obligation to others through the transformation of society, the Right — sceptical of the grand plan — prefers to discharge it through particular acts of individual kindness and practical generosity.  Though not ever believing that such acts will totally change the world, the Right fights back against the darkness nonetheless, little by little and at local level. Without the showy drama of the revolutionary, the Conservative responds on the human scale, organically.Giles Fraser

Which is all a long and convoluted way of saying that lamenting Waitangi Day for not being a day of national unity misses the point. There are many great things about our country’s history that we can celebrate in an unadulterated way, but the events and subsequent history of Waitangi do not lend themselves to that. They are occasions for introspection, discussion and – yes – argument.

And there’s nothing wrong with having one day in the year for that.  – Liam Hehir

In fact, it’s a stretch to call the arts a “community”. In politics, a community tends to be defined, however broadly, in terms of its interests. Those interests could be based on geography, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, or economic imperatives. The arts are a community more in the sense of the Balkans after the fall of communism – an intractable, internecine turf war based on ancient and obscure grudges. – Ben Thomas

We need people to see that this is not Paharakeke (Flaxmere) , this is not what we do behind closed doors. And to bring the mana back, the aroha back, because unfortunately, from what’s happened to that baby, it’s just gone and broken. – Lynsey Abbott

If there is a solution, it cannot be legislated. If there is a solution you won’t find it in Wellington. If there is a solution, you won’t find it in council … we need to take a look in the mirror.Henare O’Keefe

Paharakeke deserves better, Flaxmere families deserve better. Each and every one of us deserves better. . . Whānau isn’t harden up, it isn’t hide. It’s open up, share. It’s where you be vulnerable. If we can change our family unit, we change our community.  – Michael Ngahuka

The city of sails? Sadly no, the city of fails . . . in a world of work-life balance, it’s all work, little balance.Mike Hosking

In a zinger that already sounds dated the ascendant John Key described Clark and Cullen’s administration as “a Walkman government in an iPod world.” As Ardern and Robertson consider the influence of their former employers and political forebears, they may think Key was being too kind: the ghosts of the fifth Labour government are still firmly tuned in to the wireless. – Ben Thomas

I don’t think New Zealand as a whole has particularly valued research in science and therefore things like opportunities and funding and chances to grow are really quite limited in this country. – Professor Jane Harding

Kids will do better when the adults and the country they live in does better. – Lindsay Mitchell

You can recover from an economic recession, but you can’t recover from a President who thinks the job of the Justice Department is to only apply the law to his political opponents.David Farrar

I am no right-winger, but I find myself unusually in the space occupied by the right – that is, I cannot fathom how property rights can be trampled on in this way, nor how Labour and the Greens can tolerate it. – Sue Bradford

The Washington Post observed after Ardern hobnobbed with the wealthy worthy in Davos that, while many were enthralled, ­others saw the NZ PM as being cut from the same poseur cloth as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, only less annoying and with an easier country to run. – Graham Lloyd

But let me be really clear: we cannot afford to panic. When we panic, we actively harm our ability to respond to difficult situations. So, let’s stay calm and start preparing. What happens in the months to come is going to depend on how we all behave. Siouxsie Wiles

NZ is the Possible. We care equally about our environment, our consumers, our people, our animals and hope to make enough profit to keep going again next year. We are genuinely world leading in our approach. – Trish Rankin

So one way to think about Covid-19 is as a test of various systems around the world — political, medical and economic. Markets believe those systems are failing that test. – Tyler Cowen

A coalition government that struggles to implement meaningful policies. A prime minister at ease schmoozing with other leaders amid the glitz and glamour of the world stage. A second-in-charge who clearly sees himself as a co-prime minister. – Liam Hehir

There are far fewer people out there celebrating the real, powerful stories of Indian migrants. Like my sister-in-law, who moved to South Auckland from India as a kid, won top of the year at Auckland Uni, won a full PhD scholarship to Cambridge University, was awarded a Leader of Tomorrow at the Gellen Symposium of Switzerland, and is currently lecturing at Harvard while running a start-up. She’s probably the best poster girl you could possibly find for everything New Zealanders want to be known as: smart, determined, ballsy … and proudly Kiwi. – Verity Johnson

We were focused on being statistically safe, rather than being actually safe, which is a trap we are all guilty of falling into. . . They all said we put far too much focus on paperwork and forms and controls and not enough on engagement with people.  Jono Brent

After three years, we have books of inquiries and less than a pamphlet of implementation. Richard Prebble

But the epidemic might well have effects far beyond any that its death rate could account for. The world has suddenly woken up to the dangers of allowing China to be the workshop of the world and of relying on it as the ultimate source for supply chains for almost everything, from cars to medicines, from computers to telephones. No doubt normal service will soon resume once the epidemic is over, even if at a lower level, but at the very least supply chains should be diversified politically and perhaps geographically; dependence on a single country is to industry what dependence on monoculture is to agriculture. And just as the heart has its reasons that reason knows not of, so countries may have strategic reasons that economic reasons know not of.

The danger is that the epidemic will be used as a justification for beggar-my-neighbour protectionism, and for zero-sum game economics, to the great impoverishment of the world. Judgment, that mysterious faculty that is so difficult to define or quantify, but which undoubtedly exists, will be needed to adjudicate the claims of strategic security and economic efficiency. Even in situations in which there is hard scientific evidence to guide us, such as the present epidemic, judgment is still required. The present highly-charged political atmosphere, in which opponents can hardly bear the sight of one another, or conceded any value to their ideas, is not conducive to its exercise.Theodore Dalrymple

Remember what they’ve suffered and don’t make other people suffer the way some of them have been suffering because they are no different, while they may look different and they may sound different but we’re all the same. – John Sato 

Donald Trump takes comfort from the fact that it has killed only a handful of Americans so far. He forgets that the chart of an epidemic is exponential, as each person infects several people, and the power of such compound interest is, as Albert Einstein supposedly said, the eighth wonder of the world. The economist Tyler Cowan points out that it’s hard to beat an exponential process once a certain point has passed.

Last week Greta Thunberg was still telling the European Parliament that climate change is the greatest threat humanity faces. This week Extinction Rebellion’s upper-class twits were baring their breasts on Waterloo bridge in protest at the billions of people who they wrongly think may die from global warming in the next decade. These people are demonstrating their insensitivity. They are spooked by a spaniel when there’s a wolf on the loose. – Matt Ridley

Dairying was an economic sword for New Zealand against the GFC. Now we will be looking to exporter Fonterra and the dairy industry it leads to wield that sword again against a pandemic scourge. – Andrea Fox

Clearly,  however  much  New Zealanders  might  believe  there is  much to gain  from a united  front  in this  time of  crisis,  the  role of a  vigilant   Opposition   is  perhaps  just  as  vital.tutere44

He waka eke noa – the canoe which we are all in without exception. We are all in this together. – Simon Bridges

Farming has been unloved and beaten up by the Government for the last two or three years but the Government is going to need farmers for the next few years. Cameron Bagrie

The world has not “completely changed.” What was good economics last month is good economic policy today. To come out of this recession we need to reform the Resource Management Act, have more flexible and less onerous employment laws. We need a welfare system that discourages dependence and an education system that does not turn out one in five functionally illiterate. We desperately need a health system that is not crippled with deficits.  – Richard Prebble

I also expect to see increasing but at times grudging acknowledgement over the next six months that agriculture and food are the fundamentals of the economy that provide the funds for most of the items we have to import. Further, within agriculture, it is our pastoral products that are the products with most reliable international demand. Unfortunately, there will still be some who remain unwilling to acknowledge that reality. Keith Woodford

The size of a bureaucracy is not necessarily a sign of its strength or efficiency, any more than the selling of an oedematous leg is a sign of its strength and efficiency; rather the reverse. A small bureaucracy concentrates intelligence, while a large one disperses it. – Theodore Dalrymple

Farmers are an optimistic bunch. We’re used to things going in cycles: weather patterns, commodity prices, market demand … but we also know that sometimes the wheel doesn’t turn the whole way round, sometimes the change is permanent.Philip Todhunter

We who are adults need to be exactly that: adults. Not spread panic or rumours. No one is alone in this crisis, but each person has a heavy responsibility. – Stefan Löfven

I have long thought that if it were not for complaint, we should have very little to talk about. Complaint is like crime in the theories of the first real sociologist, Émile Durkheim: It is the glue of society. Without opposition to crime, society would fall apart. Without complaint, most of us would remain silent and have no relations with others at all. – Theodore Dalrymple

But the fact is that writing helps one to endure what might otherwise be unendurable. I suppose I should know exactly why, but I don’t, except to say that the knowledge that you are going to write about something unpleasant puts a screen between yourself and your own experience.Theodore Dalrymple

Laughing together is as close as you can get without touching.Gina Barreca

Humour rewards originality, offers diversion, enhances intellectual functioning, encourages emotional endurance, promotes a sense of alliance and releases tension without dismissing the seriousness of the situation.

Out of emotional chaos, humour devises a form and crafts a meaningful sense of control.

Humour insists on the most significant forms of freedom of assembly: the assembly of souls and minds, the community of the anxious and the brave (all of us at different moments), the gathering of storytellers, truth-tellers and eager listeners. – Gina Barreca

The most galling aspect of the current lock down is that we could’ve prevented it. If we had introduced strict quarantine at the border and made provision for widespread testing much earlier, like South Korea and others, we probably wouldn’t be in the situation we now find ourselves. We all have to pay a high price to bring this disease under control and that cost is now as much in our liberty as our wallets. I don’t think there is anything to be gained at this time in castigating the Government for their earlier inaction, but let’s not give them undue credit either. Hopefully there will be a reckoning after all this is over. – Kiwiwit

  Do you really need to drown those people in red tape and bureaucracy? I think we’re going t ave to look to lighten the load on them and let business start to flourish a bit. These aren’t normal times – John Key

One should never underestimate the power of amnesia in human affairs. Even catastrophes on a vast scale are often soon forgotten, at least by those who were not directly affected by them. The young in Eastern Europe, it is said, know nothing of the ravages of communism, though they lasted decades and still exert an influence, and quite a lot think that socialism might be a good thing to try, as if it had never been tried before. Moreover, no memory exerts a salutary effect by itself unaided by thought and reflection: memory (even where accurate) has to be interpreted, and where there is interpretation there is the possibility of error and disagreement. – Theodore Dalrymple

With a full belly, everyone knows better than farmers how to manage land, and how to care for the countryside. – James Rebanks

This is our wake-up call to respect farming once more — not uncritically: we have an absolute right to want more nature on farmland, high welfare standards for farm animals, and safe and healthy food. –James Rebanks

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column in the Listener in which I was too dismissive of the health risks of the Covid-19 threat. The reaction was furious and often vituperative – which is another thing we have all become accustomed to these days. My column that would normally be spinning off the printing press right now, said, “I got it wrong”.

I did get it wrong, but our job is to scrutinise, and I remain more afraid of the economic fallout of New Zealand’s response to Covid-19 than I am of the virus itself. – Joanne Black

I don’t jeer at smokers, though. Nicotine is a drug, you get hooked on it, and it takes a lot of effort to stop – I had someone doing it with me and we could console and help each other when it got too hard. It was also a time when I didn’t have any money worries, but really, in the end I kept it up because I was determined I wasn’t going through withdrawal symptoms ever again. I hated that I couldn’t just stop without enduring what seemed like punishment instead of the congratulations I deserved. Renée

That cast iron aversion to enforcing personal responsibility is baked in to our law in numerous areas. . . Shame (whakaama) is the mechanism at the cultural heart of nearly all successful systems for control of anti-social behaviour. Stephen Franks

It is as if the government is afraid of confronting and dealing with real hard choices –  and being honest on what they value, what they don’t –  and just prefers now to deal in simplistic rhetorical absolutes, when not much is very absolute at all. – Michael Reddell

 Bauer’s exit is further evidence that foreign control of New Zealand media is generally ruinous. Australian ownership did grave – some would say irreparable – damage to both our major print media companies and it seems the Germans are no better. Overseas owners have no emotional stake in the country and no long-term commitment to our wellbeing. They don’t understand our culture and ethos and are largely indifferent to New Zealand affairs. They are interested in us only for as long as they can make a profit, and when that ceases, they cut and run. – Karl du Fresne

Many politicians and voters don’t seem to appreciate the reality that every dollar spent by the government needs to come from taxpayers, who need to earn that dollar in order for the government to take and spend it. Even when the government borrows money to fund its splurge, it is just postponing the bill to future taxpayers. – Kiwiwit

As a nation, we will be changed. The economy will have changed. We will be changed socially, politically and constitutionally.

We will decide to end social isolation and take to the cafes (those that have survived) with gusto. It will be our duty to support what is left of the economy and keep people employed. We will rush to businesses that the COVID-19 Czars deemed non-essential and hope we have the cash to spend and hope they survived. – Judith Collins

Consistency, at least in matters of public policy, is no doubt the hobgoblin of little minds, and not every argument has to be followed to its logical conclusion. Philosophical abstractions cannot be the sole guide to our political actions, though neither can they be entirely disregarded. The man with no principles is a scoundrel; the man with only principles is a fanatic.Theodore Dalrymple

The feminization of society isn’t  the overlay of feminist values. No. It’s the overlay of natural feminine tendencies. Don’t tell me they don’t exist. Most females become mothers. They are biologically designed to nurture. To bond through touch and soft murmurs. To provide their bodies to their babies (and lovers) as cushions and warmth. They placate, they adjudicate. They practice kindness with reasonable ease because that is at the core of the jigsaw puzzle piece they are.

Mine is a traditional but organic view of what a women is. She is not less than a man. And she is not more. – Lindsay Mitchell

When the New Zealand public looks back on the response to Covid-19 they won’t be judging success by whether we went ‘faster’ or ‘harder’ than other governments. Instead, we will want to know whether the Government’s response was balanced and proportionate.

Specifically, was the response proportionate to the risks posed to the citizenry from the virus? Were the short-term and long-term consequences to health and wellbeing appropriately balanced? Were the impacts on younger members of society who bear the brunt of the financial consequences appropriately weighed against the interests of the elderly members who carry the highest health risks? And were the impacts on low-paid wage earners and disadvantaged communities who will fall deeper into poverty appropriately considered and compensated?

Certainly, extending the lockdown beyond four weeks and prolonging border closures would be the right thing to do only if it saves more lives than it costs.Grant Guilford

 I get home and just try to catch up on all the news I missed while I was writing it. As with March 15, I find filtering the horrible events through the filter of a news story that I am writing the best way to numb myself to their power. If you have to sit back and think about the world shutting all its borders for years to come, of a recession deeper than any we’ve felt in a century, of needless deaths if we don’t resist all the things that make us feel alive, then it all gets a bit much. When you get to write it out as a news story its just data to feed into a well-worn formula, a coping mechanism that also happens to be your job. – Henry Cooke

 The best battery of all is a lake. Water management allows more investment in plant based proteins, better management of waterways, and more green industry. If we want this renewable future then as a country we need to have a mature discussion about water storage which must be, and will be, a net positive for the environment. – Rod Drury

One of the lessons from the animal world, is that every disease has its unique characteristics that determine the specific strategy. But every time, one way or another, it requires a track and trace that is carried out with speed and rigour. – Keith Woodford

I write my way into a story, a poem, a play and I write my way out. One thing I know for sure – there’ll be sticking points, hurdles. Writing that flows like it was effortless and easy to write comes only after hard work. Renée

There must be many other people in these strange times who find that having the time, no longer trying to stuff too many duties and activities into their day, they can now discover the world of small things around them, and find it utterly loveable. Birds singing, leaves unfolding, spiders spinning their miraculous webs – all these things can be food for the soul and can remind us of the goodness of life even in ‘these interesting times’, in the words of the Chinese proverb. –  Valerie Davies

What other industry is allowed to steal the product of another industry’s endeavour and pay nothing for it, while at the same time steal their livelihood through advertising? Because that’s what social media does. They pay absolutely nothing for the product that is the lifeblood of their operation and that is the news content made and paid for by news media organisations.

“I know of no other industry where you can steal something and not only get paid for it through advertising but get the government’s backing for it as well. – Gavin Ellis

So let’s use every nuanced tool we have available to us. Let’s protect the vulnerable, require businesses to prove they can operate safely before reopening, seriously consider regional alert levels, and continue with our physical distancing and virus hygiene protocols. But let’s also move quickly to staunch the bleeding of our troubled economy. Otherwise, we may need to start including suicide statistics, domestic violence call-outs and bankruptcy numbers in our daily briefings. – Lizzie Marvelly

My mum has probably never shown up in the GDP. Men can be pretty shit with a tape measure when it comes to women. No offence. But she could help you with that. Run it down your arm. Around the cuff. Calculate costs in an instant. Show you where you went wrong. Pins askew in her mouth. Glen Colquhoun

We’ve been bemoaning the fact that no one wants to listen to the good stories for years. Who would have thought it would take a global pandemic to give us a window to be able to have that voice again? It seems bad taste to be observing silver linings and opportunities whilst so many are suffering however, an opportunity to connect and support our country can only be a positive for everyone in my books. The primary sector’s social licence and our economy depends on it.  – Penny Clark-Hall

The people that we are talking about now are not the sports stars, not the celebrities, they are the people at the front line -the health workers – the Jenny’s from Invercargill, they are the special people. – Sean Fitzpatrick

One of the problems with Government money is that it always feels like other people’s money, doesn’t it? At the end of the day it’s ours or at least future generations’, who will have to pay it back in some way. We ought to be just as cautious with that money as we would be in our own businesses.

If you give cheap or free Government money to enable businesses to continue, in doing so you may be destroying the very thing that is valuable in business, which is the ability to evaluate risks and to take risk where the benefits that flow are greater than the costs. – Rob Campbell

Not all deaths have the same social cost. The death of a 90 year old can be sad, but the death of a child or young adult is almost always a tragedy. Burden of disease estimates often adjust for the number of life years lost and this adjustment should be made in assessments of the benefits of intervention options.Ian Harrison

Is there any rail network in a sparsely populated narrow and skinny country like ours that has ever paid its way? Perhaps the Greens can enlighten us if there is. The Greens will probably say that there is a financial cost to an economy where climate change is front and centre, but we already know what a carbon-free economy in the year 2020 is like – we just have to reflect on the economic destruction that has taken place during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Rail is not an asset – it’s a liability. And it’s not a stimulus package, any more than spending money on people digging holes in the ground is. Stimulus money should be spent on work that will facilitate commerce and enhance the economy in the long-term, not destroy it, which is what the Greens are proposing. – Frank Newman

If the government wants to build on its success so far and continue running an effective public health campaign against Covid-19 at minimal cost to the economy, it needs a robust decision-making framework that will allow rapid response to changing circumstances and reflect a broad range of health, social and economic considerations. – Sarah Hogan

The more the government can show it is learning and carefully considering the complex sectoral, health, social and economic trade-offs at each alert level – most likely by comparison with a ‘no intervention’ alternative – the more likely it is that decisions will prove durable.

Without more structure, rigour and intense communication effort, the gains won so far against the virus risk unravelling if public scepticism and weariness combine to thwart the battle in the months ahead. – Pattrick Smellie

We shouldn’t take our culture and heritage for granted because it has helped us to strengthen our resolve and courage in such an uncertain time.

I have found that looking out for each other and valuing our culture makes us stronger and although it has been tough we will come out stronger as a community. – Hana Halalele

It does stick in my craw that even the most self-reliant of us have all become dependent on the state. I can’t help thinking that this is seen by those in power as a useful by-product of their Covid-19 response. The metaphysical basis of almost all political belief today is social, cultural and economic collectivism. We are all just part of one big, global village, and, as in any village, every person should be concerned with everyone else’s business. Self-reliance is seen as selfishness and is not to be tolerated, and if you think you know what is best for your own life, you simply don’t know what is good for you. – Kiwiwit

As leader of the nation, Ardern is unparalleled. But her performance as leader of the government is less flash. – Matthew Hooton

Amid the coronavirus implosion I’m guessing productivity failures won’t even get much attention this election.  But they should, and any serious recovery plan should go hand in hand with a strategy that has some credible chance of finally beginning to reverse decades of failure.  Turning inwards and looking more heavily to the state is most unlikely to be such an answer. – Michael Reddell

Any one country trying them will quickly find that tariffs meant to protect domestic steel producers, for example, ruin domestic industries that use steel. And when everyone turns protectionist, the complex international supply networks that deliver us everything from cars to phones seize up. –Eric Crampton

Given that a supply chain these days can take in the entire globe, how is the official to know whose making “essential” parts and who’s not? How, even, are manufacturer’s to know, if the screws they’re making are just the ones that are needed to hold together this machine that when running properly makes that machine, and that machine is the one that makes ventilators, say. – Peter Cresswell

Here’s what politicians don’t understand: The economy isn’t a lightswitch that can be turned off quickly, then turned back on without consequence. Economic freedom isn’t just an integral part of the American dream, it’s a prerequisite for prosperity.

Most importantly right now? Everyone’s livelihood is essential to them.

Economic activity is, at its heart, a human activity. To disregard some as non-essential is a mistake with heavy consequences. – Amanda Snell 

I find myself wondering if people can identify with what I have written about how it feels to be diagnosed with cancer and whether they have found themselves glimpsing the world I live in. In some strange way it could be possible that people are experiencing to one degree or another, what it feels like to have the rug abruptly pulled from under their feet and to wonder if they are going to die. Right now, people are facing one of the greatest challenges in life that they could ever imagine, just as I and many like me faced when we were given our cancer diagnosis. No words can ever describe what it’s like living with cancer but maybe an experience such as what we’re currently living through might provide a glimpse. Like with a cancer diagnosis, this pandemic will change lives and for many life will never return to what they have always known. It will change the way they view their lives and the world, perhaps even their priorities so post-pandemic life becomes a new normal for them. That phrase is one that everyone who has experienced cancer will have heard at some point because life post-cancer is never the same again, it actually does become a “new normal”.  – Diane Evans-Wood

You know, the theatre has kept going through the plague in the 1600s and it has a 2000 year-old history. Performers are part of that whakapapa and there will always be a need for human beings to connect…and, of course, that is what the arts does for us. – Jennifer Ward-Lealand.

We need to balance the ability to be financially sustainable while being environmentally sustainable, not be expected to reach lofty targets set when the world was burning more fossil fuels and living beyond its means before the pandemic.

For NZ those targets need to be readdressed as soon as possible. We must lift the lid on the pressure cooker the primary industries have been under as we look to the future. – Craig Wiggins

One thing I do know is that what has become important now has always been important – food, shelter and good company – Craig Wiggins

Everyone who has a job in this economy is an essential worker. Every single job that is being done in our economy with these severe restrictions that are taking place is essential. . .People stacking shelves, that is essential. People earning money in their family when another member of their family may have lost their job and can no longer earn, that’s an essential job. Jobs are essential.- Scott Morrison

Merit of action should be based on decisions made (or not made), the application of reason and science, and of course, the final results. Merit and accolade should never be given simply because of person’s age, gender, belief system, or political leanings. Sadly, we are seeing a commentariat very willing to continue its pursuit of identity politics where the ‘who’ is more important than the ‘what’ and ‘how’.  Simon O’Connor

Whether a farmer, café owner or self-employed plumber, the driving force behind most small businesses is the dignity of self-employment. For some people (me for starters) that’s a huge factor overwhelming any other consideration. – Sir Bob Jones

And yet, if there are any two countries that could pull off a clear if hermetically sealed victory — offering a model of recovery that elevates competence over ego and restores some confidence in democratic government — it may be these two Pacific neighbors with their sparsely populated islands, history of pragmatism and underdogs’ craving for recognition.Damien Cave

You are going to be part of a team facing tradeoffs.  Will we cancel the upgrading of the Tauranga to Katikati highway where there are too many road deaths so we can plant trees on good farm land to suck up CO2?  Will we delay buying equipment for an isolation strategy in a probable flu epidemic or build a cycleway on the Auckland harbour bridge?  Should we introduce tough new water quality measures while farmers are struggling and suiciding?  Will Pharmac get more money for new drugs to save five to ten lives or will we build a tramline to the airport?  Can we afford to close maternity hospitals in Southland risking mothers and babies lives so we can shift the Port of Auckland to Whangarei? – Owen Jennings

I have been alarmed to see that disdain for the mainstream media has spread to the mainstream media itself. Recently I was contacted by people who should know better, asking me to send them a copy of my column because they refused to fork out the readies to breach this paper’s paywall. The total required at the time was $1 a week. This much they would not sacrifice because of their aversion to one columnist. They would forgo the fine work produced by many excellent writers who did not have that columnist’s attention-grabbing profile and gift for alienating readers. . . .

Now more than ever, mainstream media which, for all its flaws, continues to uphold basic journalistic standards has a vital role to play in society.

As I explained at the time, refusing to share my column with my stingy friends, if you think life without magazines is bad, wait until you live in a world without newspapers.Paul Little

We must never again allow a situation where the law allows a young woman with much charm and little real world experience, to legally take such dictatorial powers.

The current legislation needs to be reconsidered in Parliament. While it’s conceivable such situations could arise in the future requiring such a heavy-handed approach, the supporting legislation should require say a 75% Parliamentary vote. Sir Bob Jones

There are two clear dangers for New Zealand.

The first is the virus – or more specifically, the prime minister’s strategy of eliminating the virus; how many lockdowns can we endure?

And the second is our prime minister, who fundamentally believes in state control, and is being given a free rein to embed her agenda deep into the heart of our democracy.  – Muriel Newman

Instead of adding to the deficit by throwing expensive shovels at projects, and thereby taking the public sector’s share of total spending up even further than its current, very high, level of 40 per cent of GDP, let’s hold the line on spending and cut tax revenues for a while, and let the households and the business sector sort out the shovelling for themselves. – Tim Hazeldine

For a Government, public confidence is the most precious of commodities. In ordinary times, it allows businesspeople to take more risks, invest in plant and technology, open new markets, start new ventures, employ more staff. It allows householders to decide yes, we will buy the new fridge, take a bigger holiday, eat out more often. Confidence turns the wheels of the economy. Simon Wilson

We are right to take a strong stand to value life and be against premature death. What we should now ask of our leaders is that they be consistent and place equal value on the risks, both physical and mental, for all people. One of the important roles of teachers in a crisis situation is to hear students’ questions and concerns with an open mind and allow them to work their way through things. Suppressing this process can only lead to conformity for the sake of it and a deep sense of helplessness. – Alwyn Poole

We’ve flattened the curve; we don’t need to flatten our country. Indeed, we now need another curve, an upward growth curve – growth, jobs, and a track back to normality.Simon Bridges

 The instinct of the Labour/ New Zealand First government will be to assume that a committee of Wellington politicians and officials, with a couple of business folk, a union rep and two iwi leaders should steer our path into the new economy. The likes of Shane Jones and Phil Twyford will implement it. . .

But the core engine of growth will always be private sector investment – men, women and their businesses taking on new ventures, rebuilding their businesses, expanding, hiring people – taking mad risks. No committee would have thought Kiwis should get into rockets, or into online accounting systems.

The recipe hasn’t changed. Successful economies make it easy for the investment to flow to more productive activities – they welcome investment, they don’t over regulate or over tax, they provide clear and consistent rules, properly enforced, and don’t go changing them all the time. – Paul Goldsmith

This is not a time to panic or point fingers. It is time for us to reveal our true character. Sir Don McKinnon

We need to speak very plainly about this: these three career politicians have absolutely no idea what sectors of the economy are doomed, which have a future, and whether any particular commercial proposal makes sense. Add Economic Development Phil Twyford to the mix, and it risks the appearance of a circus run by clowns. . .

Free-market capitalism works not because it is individualistic — although it is — but because it collectivises everyone’s best guesses and analysis. In contrast, collectivist economic systems reply on the brilliance of individuals or, worse, committees. Again, we should speak plainly: central planners are not just often wrong, but invariably wrong, just like most of us. – Matthew Hooton 

If you have one tenth the number of intensive care beds per capita that Germany does, if you don’t have contact tracing in place, then if you don’t have that level of resourcing available, you’ve got to focus very hard on the keep-it-out strategy. The fact that we’ve had to work so hard to stamp it out can only mean we’ve failed to keep it out. – Des Gorman

Our primary industries are the ones that have propped it [the economy] up. We can’t keep borrowing money. Money doesn’t come from out of thin air and if there are jobs there, let us work.

“Don’t give us job centres for queues of people lining up for jobs that aren’t there. We have these jobs sitting under our noses. – Tania Gibson

We need you to accept that there is a problem, see what the problem is, and fix the problem and make sure that the problem never happens again. – Dr Jan White

Vaccine shortages have dogged previous flu and measles campaigns, and doctors have called this year’s flu campaign a “complete debacle”.

It has become abundantly clear that despite the Government’s rejection of such an assertion, a debacle is exactly what it is.  Michael Morrah

The stakes are higher than any election since 1984 because a second-term Ardern Government will have a mandate and an appetite for the largest expansion of the state since Robert Muldoon’s Think Big schemes and endless tinkering beggared the country.  – Damien Grant

The public is putting an immense amount of trust in the Government as it circumvents the usual checks and balances to get us through this crisis. But trust is earned. It’s also key to maintaining social cohesion. – Jenée Tibshraeny

The calamitous way in which Parliament turned Inland Revenue into a small business lender , without a single MP realising they were doing so, is a sign that the time is well past for greater scrutiny to return.

The Government’s refusal to release the advice it used as the basis of its decision to place New Zealand into a highly restrictive lockdown is coming close to an abuse of the extraordinary trust the public has granted it.Hamish Rutherford

No policy decision is costless. Advocates of a longer extension expound the benefits of the approach they advocate; they often are less forthcoming on the costs. The costs of our lockdown could well be slower coming through than the corona virus itself, they are costs that we as the citizens will sooner or later have to bear. – Wyatt Creech

He turns being artless into an art form; he is a Picasso of pettiness; a Shakespeare of shit. His faults are fractal: even his flaws have flaws, and so on ad infinitum. – Nate White

One of the worst effects of a lack of understanding of risk management is the precautionary principle. This is the belief that unless you have complete knowledge about the likelihood and impact of the risk, either you shouldn’t take any action at all (e.g. not allowing the trial of a new drug) or you should go all-out to prevent the risk eventuating (e.g. locking down the population in a pandemic). – Kiwiwit

We’ve elected politicians without enough prior life tests and career leadership experience  to exercise democratic control. Without authoritative experienced oversight, some official cultures will inevitably become immune to their own convenient cruelty. “Be kind” means nothing without the leadership diligence that makes it practical, everyday, and integrated among all the other demands of hard decision-making.  Stephen Franks

People talk a big game about moving away from eating meat, and no doubt tell researchers they are vegetarian when asked – but when they get home they are tucking into a big porterhouse. – Trent Thorne

We are very good at managing weeds and pests. Had the Department of Conservation taken it over I don’t know that the same standard of management would have been there to look after it. They don’t have the budget.

“And it would be devastating to watch it fill up with wildings and be overrun by rabbits again.

“They’re very complex places to run and if all of the high country farmers stopped farming it would be a huge burden on the taxpayer to actually manage that land.Andrew Simpson

A lot of farmers, particularly our young farmers, have found themselves in a very lonely place in the last five years.

“I like to think the understanding might shift as people get to understand where their food comes from.

“And it’s our interests to tell our story so that people do understand. We still grow food, and we love the land. The two can coexist. – Andrew Simpson

A human life, it will be said, is of incalculable value, and in some metaphysical sense this is so. Usually we do not value people’s lives in dollars and cents, and we would regard anyone who did so with horror or disgust. But at the same time, we know that in practice we do place a value on people’s lives. We would think it right to spend more on saving a child’s life at the age of 3 than to spend it on prolonging the life of a 95-year-old by five minutes. The relative values of human lives may not be calculable in any precise sense, but where choices have to be made and resources are scarce (as they always are), we make them.

Sacrificing life to maintain normal life may not therefore be a monstrous policy, though the question of how much life can be sacrificed for how much normality is very difficult to answer, because neither the quantity of life sacrificed nor the amount of normality preserved can be known, certainly not in advance, and perhaps not even in retrospect, for there are so many variables that might account for differences. Besides, the two—life lost and economic collapse—are incommensurable.Theodore Dalrymple

The shackles should be discarded and ministers should be open to scrutiny. If they can’t be trusted to answer questions about their portfolios, they shouldn’t be ministers. – Derek Cheng

Fundamentally, this is a story of two governments and their differing response to the crisis. The Australian Government has committed to preserving jobs by keeping the economy going, no doubt aware that creating a job is so much harder than preserving one. On the other hand, the New Zealand Government chose instead to shut down the economy. As a result, I believe thousands of businesses will close or drastically shrink, and unemployment will grow significantly.

The initial focus by Governments in both countries was quite rightly the health and well-being of the citizens. Australia and New Zealand have achieved admirable results compared to many other countries, particularly the comparatively low number and rate of deaths from COVID-19. The number of deaths per 100,000 population in both countries is much the same. However, the big difference is that Australia will emerge with their economy virtually intact, while we have done serious damage to ours. There is significant business failure happening now in New Zealand that could have been avoided, and still can be in my opinion. –  Lee Short

I see a stark difference between the wealth creators and those untouched and shielded from the impact on the business world. They are not having their pay slashed and are not suffering unemployment or the threat of it. Business owners and employees provide the wealth that funds those in the public service. They take risks, many borrowing substantial sums, some making sacrifices for years. The result is companies that pay tax and employ staff who pay tax. These taxes keep those in public service in employment.Lee Short

Those of us whose adult lives have largely played out over the last four decades should be grateful that we have lived through the best of times, but we owe it to our children and grandchildren to give them at least the same opportunities that we have had to enjoy happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. How we handle the recovery from Covid-19 will determine whether we do so.Kiwiwit

There is not one person in the Government that has a plan or can articulate a plan.  A plan has a start, a process and a goal….not one Minister can articulate what that plan is. Instead, it’s panic and continue to employ as many people as possible. That is not a plan’s arsehole. – Paul Henry

No opinion is worth expressing that is not also worth contradicting (except, perhaps, this one); nevertheless, clichés have their attraction. They are the teddy-bears of the mind, or, to change the metaphor slightly, the mental lifebuoys we cling to in times of stormy intellectual or political weather. They are the sovereign remedy for thought, which is always a rather painful activity. –  Theodore Dalrymple

 Is mastery of this kind of meaningless verbalisation, eloquently empty and passionately delivered, the key to political success? And if so what does it say of us, the citizens of democracies? – Theodore Dalrymple

As is quite often the case, hiding in the great mound of high-sounding bilge are quite nasty sentiments that would, if taken seriously (which thankfully they will not be), lead straight to a totalitarian society. . . It has long been my opinion that inside every sentimentalist there is a despot trying to get out. – Theodore Dalrymple

Except that people will remember the sectors that helped them get through – agriculture and horticulture. They might also remember that the air became cleaner during the pandemic, and that the rivers ran clear. The environmental impact of reduction in transport has been noticed globally. The clarity of waterways has featured on RNZ with commentators noting bird song and clear water… because building and roadworks had stopped. No mention was made of the fact that agriculture and horticulture continued, nor that there had been no reduction in animals. – Jacqueline Rowarth

I would go so far as to compare the Prime Minister to Rob Muldoon. She is Rob Muldoon with slogans and kindness. Michael Woodhouse

How have we got to a stage where we think this is fine. Where we accept rules that say only 10 people are allowed at funerals but 100 people can go to a pub? Where families can’t get out of quarantine to say goodbye to dying family members and people in hospitals die without any loved ones holding their hands? – Heather du Plessis-Allan

You can’t spend your way back to surplus. You can’t tax your back to surplus (without decreasing economic growth). You need to grow your way back to surplus. So most important of all we need policies that will not just get us through the recession but lead to a strong growing economy for the decade that follows. – David Farrar

The budget was heavy in numbers. A few hundred million here, a few billion here – there were big spending initiatives for everything.

But it was light on demonstrating how these programmes will help repair the country. As KiwiBuild showed, good intentions plus government money do not automatically equate to success. But that lesson appears to have been forgotten and Budget 2020 is just KiwiBuild on steroids. – Oliver Hartwich

It’s easy to get lost in all of the big numbers today. The four-year projections of spending, the extra of billions in debt, the debt-to-GDP ratio.

We forget that each of those numbers, all of the numbers in fact, represents a bigger challenge. The burden we place on New Zealanders and the responsibility we have to them.

We forget that a decade of deficits and debt means fewer choices for our kids down the road.

The obligation we as Parliamentarians have to make sure the next generation is better off than we were. That they have more choices, more opportunities, and more ability to succeed in the world because we back them, not burden them with debt.Simon Bridges

Next time, with substantial administrative improvement and a whole lot more political honesty (surely an oxymoron if ever there was one!), there may be some justification in claiming the government’s responses and directives as a  “masterclass of communication” – but definitely not this time. – Henry Armstrong

Whether the virus is quelled or not, in four months’ time the wreckage of New Zealand’s economy will be visible from space. Last week, leaked documents showed the Ministry of Social Development is preparing for an extra 300,000 benefit applications in response to mass unemployment generated by the pandemic.

You don’t have to be a seer to guess that material concerns and a desire for economic and logistical competence will likely trump all other considerations — including abstract notions of “wellbeing” and admonitions to “be kind” — in choosing the next government.Graham Adams

You have had the five million locked up in Cindy’s Kindy with a daily political party broadcast with an incredibly compliant media who have been in her bubble. – Michelle Boag

Our Prime Minister is daily lauded for her leadership in times of crisis.  In the immediate glare of publicity, kindness and empathy are endearing qualities.  The cold reality is that those qualities will not pay the bills.  Gestures of 20% pay cuts are welcomed but 20% of a heck of a lot is no real sacrifice.  Real leadership involves more than optics and safeguarding political gains. It requires tough and hurtful decisions.Owen Jennings

If ‘helicopter’ cash and ‘shovel ready’ projects are the best you can come up with, think again.  If dressing up green initiatives and sneaking through climate change penalties are on the menu, forget it.  If asking us to pay new taxes is in the budget, pull it out again.  Our burden is already too heavy.  Focus on what might hold back private sector initiatives, frustrate investors, limit progress and delay the recovery.  Prune such fearlessly.  Waiting seven years for a consent to increase a water take when your city is running dry isn’t helping anything – the environment, the economy, thirsty businesses or my vegetable garden. –  Owen Jennings

I would like to change the way we treated our farmers and our primary industries for the last while. ‘They are the heroes of our economy and I think they are being treated as though they were the villains.  It is really important to show how valuable the agriculture and primary industries are to New Zealand. They are the basis of our economy, and valuing that is really important to me.  – Penny Simmonds 

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

Australia is currently co-optimising the wellbeing of the Covid outbreak and the wellbeing consequences of the economy better than New Zealand.  If we don’t martial the best possible team for both recovery and reform, we will exacerbate the slide against our greatest comparator and lose even more of our most precious asset, our people.That risks a younger generation not only inheriting greater debt, but also makes Aotearoa a less desirable place to live with substantially less wellbeing. Fraser Whineray

I trust the prime minister a lot more than her critics do. But I also believe that a lot of her cabinet ministers are incompetent, and others are highly unscrupulous, and that this government makes operational and policy blunders on a scale we haven’t seen in our last few decades of technocratic centrism (as I was writing this the news broke that the entire lockdown may have been illegal). And they’re currently making huge decisions based on incomplete information because there is no expert consensus or reliable data available. – Danyl Mclauchlan

So I think there’s value to disrespectful questions and politicised critiques, and even some of the contrarianism, even if a lot of it is misguided or in bad faith, or simply wrong. And I think we need a space for those critiques in our mainstream politics and media instead of shouting it down and leaving it to circulate on the shadowy fringes of the internet. Because the experts are not always right and the government is not always trustworthy. If contrarians warn about the danger to our freedom in this moment, and it makes us more vigilant and we remain free, does it mean the contrarians were wrong? – Danyl Mclauchlan

What drives me is community – the people who help their elderly neighbours with the lawns on the weekend; The Dad who does the food stall at the annual school fair; The Mum who coaches a touch rugby team; This election will be about the economy, but not the economy the bureaucracy talks about. It’ll be about the economy that you live in – the economy in your community – your job, your main street, your marae, your tourism business, your local rugby league club, your local butcher, your kura, your netball courts, your farms, your shops and your families.  This is the economy National MPs are grounded in, and the one that matters most to New Zealand. Todd Muller

The problem with this government is they’ve two or three strong performers and 17 empty seats in CabinetTodd Muller

Poker machines are a de facto tax on the brain-dead. As a taxpayer I resent having to support no-hopers when in the case of these addictions, their problems are self-inflicted. – Bob Jones

A modern democracy, we should not forget, is a people of the government, by the government, and for the government.Theodore Dalrymple

What the “employed and unemployed workers” of 1935 would be scandalised by is being forced to support other people’s children whose father’s pay nothing. They would be outraged that someone who has committed a crime can come out of a prison and get immediate recourse to welfare – repeatedly! They would be angry that  entire isolated rural communities could turn their local economies on welfare. – Lindsay Mitchell

New Zealand’s economy is in strife. Without major change, our constitutional cousin is in decline. Its public finances are in tatters, its biggest export, tourism, has been obliterated — Air New Zealand announced 4000 job losses this week — and New Zealand police now can enter people’s homes without a warrant.Adam Creighton

In one year, New Zealand has blown 30 years of hard-fought ­fiscal rectitude. Its public debt will explode from the equivalent of 19 per cent of gross domestic product last year to 54 per cent by 2022, on the government’s own figures. – Adam Creighton

The Prime Minister and Finance Minister, who have not worked in the private sector, spruik the totems of modern left governments — renewable energy, trees, higher tax, equality — but without much to show for it. Plans for a billion trees and 100,000 houses have come close to almost naught, and a capital-gains tax was dumped. Labour made a song and dance about reducing child poverty too, but on six out of nine measures tracked by Statistics New Zealand it is unchanged or worse since 2017, including the share of children living in “material hardship”, which has risen to 13.4 per cent. – Adam Creighton

The real problem with the Ardern government is they have no idea whatsoever apart from how to throw money at things, – Roger Douglas

In any case, it wasn’t outsized compassion that drove the lockdown sledgehammer but the ­brutal reality of an underfunded health system. With about 140 intensive care unit beds and few ventilators — far fewer than Australia per capita — it was woefully underprepared. Ardern is more popular than ever, and by all accounts is a good person and a great communicator. But if a COVID-19 vaccine remains elusive, New Zealanders may come to question her wisdom as they fall further down the global pecking order. Without economic growth, there won’t be money for more ICU beds. – Adam Creighton

The world doesn’t need more examples of the progressive social direction of NZ so we can learn from their utter failure sad as it is. She’s all hat and no cattle, just a charismatic executioner of her country’s future prospects.  – Alfred

They’ll make excuses for her, that’s what left supporters and the media do to prop up failed politicians. It’s not about results, it’s about virtuous ideas and statements. The voters least affected – the latte sipping urbanites will keep supporting her, while the poorer people, whom she has vowed are the ones she’s trying to help, will suffer.Melanie

If you, as small business owners, give just one of your newly unemployed neighbours a job before Christmas, you will be the heroes of the economic crisis, the way that our nurses and doctors and all five million of us who stayed at home and washed our hands were the heroes of the health crisis, –  Todd Muller

National does not start by saying everything should be closed unless the Government says it can be open. Instead, our guiding principle is that everything should be open unless there is good reason for it to be closed.Todd Muller

Ethnic communities don’t want tokenism or special treatment; we simply want to be treated as equals and live in an inclusive society. We don’t wish to question or demonise anybody’s “whiteness”. We should all be able to celebrate who we are without fear or favour. – Gregory Fortuin

Muller is still an unknown quantity and has taken over National at the worst possible time for a prime ministerial aspirant. His best hope is that by the election on September 19, unemployment has rocketed, the cult of Winston has shattered, the economy has tanked and voters are starting to worry about how the country will ever pay the billions back.

Then voters might start to think empathy is all very well, but we need a leader capable of some hard- headed decisions that look beyond the lens of political correctness.Martin van Beynen

Don’t be fooled, Winston Peters declarations are not about principle. His game is political expediency. . . Will Winston Peters last the distance or are we seeing the tactic that’s been so successful in the past being reeled out for a third time? Peters shows yet again he will call the shots and for a party polling well below the 5 percent threshold he has nothing to lose. – Heather Roy

Months of monotony, with nothing to look forward to and nothing to distinguish one day from another, is an experience which fundamentally conflicts with most of the ways societies throughout history have found to give structure to the passage of time. Most religions recognise the importance of marking time: celebrating rites of passage, appointing seasons for feasting and fasting, getting together at set times to celebrate, pray, or mourn. As religious holidays die away, secular society invents its own alternatives.

Over the past few months, we’ve been stripped of all that. Those keeping Easter, Passover, Ramadan or other commemorations have had to do so at home and online, for many a very imperfect substitute, and non-believers have lost their rituals too: no birthday parties, no graduations, not even the weekly trip to a favourite coffee shop. We’ve been deprived of almost every conceivable form of public, shared experience — perhaps most painfully of all, with restrictions on funerals, the rituals of grieving. These are anchors, and without them we drift.Eleanor Parker

We’re all hypocrites. Outrage is selective. Personally I’m much more concerned with the fact we’re staring down mass unemployment and a generation-defining economic crisis than the fact Todd Muller has a Trump hat. – Jack Tame

In the face of soaring unemployment and plummeting house prices, middle voters may pause for thought. People who care passionately about inequality, over-tourism and climate change in the good times, tend to be less progressive when their personal economic circumstances are shaken.Andrea Vance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kindness isn’t achievable without action.Andrea Vance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nearly every day….I get a random stranger go out of their way to walk up to me in the street and say ‘I want to let you know I’m very grateful for what you do’. So at some point you decide do you want to listen to the one negative person, or 50 positive people?.’ – Paula Bennett

Homeowners in Kelburn who like the idea that we lead the world in banning plastic bags (we don’t) and seeing statues of Captain Cook replaced with Pohutukawa trees are going to spill their almond milk at the prospect of paying an annual two per cent tax on their unrealised capital gains. Wealthy Green voters, I am willing to wager, prefer looking good to doing good. – Damien Grant

Let’s understand that dying is an intrinsic part of life. Let’s talk about what end-of-life care actually is and strengthen, extend and improve what we already have in our palliative care. Such care is a commitment, one we need to make. Euthanasia is an avoidance of this commitment. – Serena Jones

Without food, there is no life. The trick is to produce it in ways that also yield rich soils, thriving forests, healthy waterways and flourishing communities. As the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment pointed out 10 years ago, in tackling climate change, it’s vital to avoid perverse incentives and bad ecological outcomes. he farmers are right. At present, the incentives in the ETS are perverse, and they’re taking us in the wrong direction. It needs to be fixed before it’s too late. – Dame Anne Salmond

 Don’t jack up taxes during an economic crisis. Don’t add to the burden. Give us a break. What’s the better alternative? Blitz the low-quality spending and accelerate economic growth to generate the revenue to deal to the debt. – Mike Yardley

If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.” – J.K. Rowling

When transgender women and women are indistinguishable, women are unable to access the rights they would have if they were distinctive. . . Yet being tolerant of transgender women does not mean that one loses the ability to defend the rights of women who were born female. . . The main reason for this silence, as I see it, is the twisted logic of identity politics and its adherents. This ideology promotes a worldview that is wholly based on power structures and relationships. All of society is viewed through the prism of oppressors and oppressed. The ideology focuses on traits, such as race, gender or sexual orientation, some of which are deemed unalterable, others a matter of personal choice. Yet individual agency is generally devalued, to the benefit of collective identities that are increasingly ideologically fixed. An individual has less and less room to carve out room for her own views within each collective. A matrix has formed where those who have a higher number of marginalized traits rank higher on the victimhood ladder; their “truth” therefore counts more. – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

More funding does not address the issues of choice, accountability, value for money, and individual and community needs.Brooke van Velden

If your test is, it doesn’t matter whether someone is nice to the Labour Party, it matters if they are nice to the waiter, then Judith Collins is a very nice person. – Ben Thomas

Collins does not deal in ambiguity and nor is she likely to deliver it.Liam Hehir

You can’t be focussed on New Zealanders when you’re busy playing politics.One of the things I’ve learned over the years is you only ever learn from your mistakes, you don’t learn from your successes. The National Party is very focussed on not repeating any mistakes.” – Judith Collins

Elections are the means by which the Government has legitimacy and power; not minor inconveniences on the path to Covid-19 recovery.Henry Cooke

Collins, like Muldoon, speaks to a New Zealand that sees itself above class and race. She imagines a country where the language of political correctness has no place and anyone who works hard can get ahead. Don’t underestimate how many New Zealanders share that vision. – Josh Van Veen

Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative. – Bari Weiss

To me, the point of a strong economy is to enable New Zealanders to do the most basic things in life well. A strong economy improves our chances of finding satisfying and well-paying work so that we can look after ourselves and our families – the most fundamental task each of us have. A society based on the assumption that its average citizen can’t or shouldn’t be expected to look after themselves and their families is doomed. – Paul Goldsmith

Here we had intimations at least that the prim, prissy, prudish neo-Puritanism, the Woke-Fascism unleashed on the nation by the Marxist Jacinda Ardern might have met its match. – Lindsay Perigo

She is creating a climate of terror designed to keep people cowed and bowed. It’s cynical, and I believe she was acting in the best interest of the country in the beginning, and now it’s become almost a mania. – Kerre McIvor

National’s approach to infrastructure is simple: Make decisions, get projects funded and commissioned, and then get them delivered, at least a couple of years before they are expected to be needed. That is the approach that transformed the economies of Asia from the 1960s.Judith Collins

It wasn’t that long ago when much of the global elite had conclusively decided that climate change was our world’s top priority. Then came a massive sideswiping by a global pandemic, of which we have only seen the first wave, along with an equally massive global recession. It serves as a timely reminder that an alarmism that cultivates one fear over others serves society poorly. – Bjorn Lomborg

I have no doubt that in the ranks of both main Parties there are numerous MPs with a strong Green personal agenda. If the Greens see a Parliamentary role then that should be to go into coalition with any majority Party so as to push their agenda. The indisputable fact is they’re frauds. – Sir Bob Jones

A wealth tax is far more punitive than a capital gains tax, since rather than being raised on profits after an asset is sold, it must be found each year by people who may be asset rich but cash poor. It would become an unaffordable burden on many New Zealanders, especially those who are retired. – Muriel Newman

Increasingly throwing money at dysfunctional families provides no assurance parents will suddenly become better budgeters, or not simply spend more on harmful behaviours. Gambling and substance abuse don’t just hurt the parent. They hurt the child directly (damage in the womb, physical abuse or neglect under the influence) not to mention indirectly through parental role-modelling that normalizes bad behaviours, especially violence, to their children. Lindsay Mitchell

My warning, however, would be that it’d be dangerous for National to become a conservatives party rather than a party with conservatives in it. It’s better to share power in a party that governs more often than not than it is to be the dominant force in a party that reliably gets 35% of the vote. . . The National Party is not an ideological movement. It is a political framework that allows members unified by their opposition to state socialism to pursue their various goals incrementally and co-operatively. Nobody ever gets everything they want but that’s a fact of life. – Liam Hehir

And that defines the New Zealand First dilemma. They must now campaign on the basis that they were part of a Government so they can’t credibly attack it, but they were not a big enough part to have a major influence. Richard Harman

We think it’s very important that we have everybody involved in it (planning). But I think it’s really important too is that consultation actually should be consultation, not the farce we have at the moment where everybody gets a say, and nobody gets the answer. –  Judith Collins

For me every day is now what they refer to as ‘Blursday’ because I really wouldn’t know. – Melina Schamroth

Properly funded end of life care is what needs to happen before, in my opinion, we push the nuclear button on the option of euthanasia. – Maggie Barry

It is about this time in the election cycle that the media starts crying out for policy. They want to know exactly what a party will do if elected. The problem for parties has always been that the amount of effort that goes into writing an election policy is not reflected in the amount of consideration given to it by voters. – Brigitte Morton

Laying hundreds off is no different to laying one off if you’re that one. And the reason this will play into the way we vote is because the halcyon days of the lock down are well past, and we have moved on with the inevitable, what next scenario. . .If The Warehouse, having taken the wage subsidy, can still lay off the numbers they are, and they’re far from the only ones, how many more join that queue come September 1st? And how many of those jobless quite rightly ask themselves whether teddy bears in windows, closed borders and a tanked economy with no real answer outside welfare is really worth voting for. – Mike Hosking

Hypocrisy is a normal but irritating aspect of human behaviour. We’re all hypocrites to some extent, but true hypocrites are almost admirable in their chutzpah because, unlike hypocrites who are caught doing what they try to hide, real hypocrites are outraged by vices which they themselves do in public. Their hypocrisy is so blatant that, after a while, nobody notices – it fades into the background like muzak in a shopping centre. – Roger Franklin

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.  – Michael Shellenberger

Peters can only win if voters see only his crafted image and ignore the reality of who he really is. But once the tricks become obvious – when the threadbare curtain concealing him is pulled back – the show man can no longer pass himself off as the Wizard of Oz. – Andrea Vance

By any measure it is the coming together of the narcissist and the plain wacky coated in self-delusion. – The Veteran

A strong economy improves our chances of finding satisfying and well-paying work so that we can look after ourselves and our families – the most fundamental task each of us have.  A society based on the assumption that its average citizen can’t or shouldn’t be expected to look after themselves and their families is doomed.  Paul Goldsmith

Just think about it, when you step into a polling booth on September 19 you will be a bit like a practising Catholic going into a cathedral, dipping your fingers into the holy water font and blessing yourself. After you’ve washed your hands with the sanitiser, you’ll bow over the ballot paper in the booth and be reminded how lucky you are to be alive.  – Barry Soper

Those on welfare don’t need sympathy. They need to be backed, encouraged, and supported to plan their future and see a path off welfare dependency. . . . I have always believed the answers to long-term dependency, child abuse, and neglect, and violence are in our communities. There is no programme that a politician or a bureaucrat can design that will solve these complex issues – Paula Bennett

Money is currently being thrown around but with no accountability. We have to be bold, brave. How can throwing millions and millions of dollars around and hoping some gets to those that need it most, through Government agencies and community organisations, and yet watching more people in despair be OK. – Paula Bennett

I’m far from perfect, and I know that, but my intent, my heart, my integrity has meant that I have slept well. This place is brutal. It will pick up the spade and bury you if you let it. It is relentless, but we sign up knowing that. So I went hard and full-on. For me to have not made a difference and not given it everything I’ve got would’ve been wasted time. So I end this chapter half the size but twice the woman thanks to this experience.  – Paula Bennett

Why is it through the toughest moments of our lives we learn the most, we feel the most, we have the greatest power to contribute and experience beauty? Through COVID, we saw this. Through fear, desperation, and hardship, heroes emerged. Teachers taught children from their living rooms while supporting their own families. Nurses, doctors, and checkout operators had the courage to turn up even when they were petrified. The lesson is: character and courage emerge out of trauma and hardship. The question for any generation of political leaders is: have we had the courage and character to step up and solve the hard economic and social issues of our time?  – Nikki Kaye

The National Party has been a strong force in New Zealand politics because of its values of freedom and personal responsibility—a place where social conservatives and social liberals can work for the common good. As a party, we are at our best when there is balance. That is when we are truly representative of this great nation. – Nikki Kaye

To the parliamentarians: I’ve always said I believe there are two types of parliamentarians in this place. Those that are in it for themselves and those that are in it for the country. Be the latter. Be brave and have courage. Don’t leave anything in the tank. – Nikki Kaye

In my three years as justice Minister, it very quickly became clear to me that the best thing we could do to reduce crime was to intervene many, many years before the offenders ever turn up in court. That was the basis of my absolute adoption of the importance of social investment as championed by Sir Bill English. Yes, it’s early intervention but it’s so much more and involves radical change to our delivery models if we’re going to make progress on the hard intergenerational issues.  – Amy Adams

Colleagues, the jobs we hold matter. They matter so much more than any one of us. We need good people to want to step into this arena, and we need them to do it for the best of reasons. I worry that increasingly the scorn and the vitriol that is heaped on politicians—often fairly—discourages those good people from stepping up. These jobs are tough. The life is brutal, and the public will never really see the hours, the stress, the impossibility of the perfection that is required, and the impact that life in the public eye has on our families. While you are here in your political role, it is your life. Friends, family, and our health get what’s left over, and often that’s not much. But this job deserves that level of devotion. – Amy Adams

If I have any advice for those who follow me, it would be pretty simple: do the right thing and let the politics take care of itself. Be brave, stand up on the divisive issues, and never lose sight of the difference you get to make in the time that we are here. – Amy Adams

I had the privilege of sharing a breakfast with Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister at the time. Neither of us were into cold pastries or cold meat, so she ordered toast. I thought, “What are we going to put on this toast?” She said, “Don’t worry, Nathan. I’ve got it in hand.”, reached down—”Craft peanut butter. Vegemite.” We had a great discussion. The Anzac bond is incredibly strong. – Nathan Guy

It’s easy to sit on the side lines and criticise. It’s a lot more difficult to stand up and be counted. – Nathan Guy

If we can beat this virus, then we can beat most respiratory ones. The ridiculous way in which we tolerate cold-spreaders, mocking them for taking a day off and praising them for trudging into work while feeling miserable, has to stop. It should be socially unacceptable to go to a party with a cold, let alone kiss the host on the cheek when you get there. – Matt Ridley

In order that today’s middle-class and middle-aged are not required to pay the price of maintaining their current lifestyles we are stripping our children of the opportunities that we claim we want for them. – Damien Grant

The fact the economy is in tatters must not be focused on because as we have heard and you will continue to hear, .we are in the middle of a pandemic. The health freak out worked for them. The economic misery, not so much.  But here’s the truth the truth of today, not March, we are not in the middle of anything other than a recession the likes of which we have never seen. This country is not in a pandemic, we haven’t been for months. And even in its worst moments, of the 1000 beds we set aide for the tidal wave of death and ventilators, we hardly filled any.They’ve had their health curtain call, we’ve applauded. But they’re now milking the standing ovations for naked political advantage.   –  Mike Hosking

It’s very important that people are in jobs wherever possible and I have a huge commitment to people being in work. I have been in work pretty much all my adult life and my view has always been that work is not only good for the economy, it’s good for people, but it’s very good for people’s mental health and their sense of well-being. –Judith Collins

It is a useful reminder that strong emotion is not, of itself, a reason for doing something, let alone a useful guide to policy. The heart has its reasons that the head knows not of, Pascal said; but it is just as true that the head has its reasons that the heart knows not of. Reason and feeling must be in some kind of balance. At the moment, feeling in the ascendant, at least in the West, with disastrous results.  – Theodore Dalrymple

They picked the wrong person if they want an acquiescent member of caucus who doesn’t have the capacity to think. – Louisa Wall

Just because you can print the dollars that pay for lunch doesn’t make it free. – Pattrick Smellie

What most astonished me was the swiftness and completeness of the transformation of life, and the passivity with which it was accepted. Was this an instance of laudable social discipline, or a confirmation of Tocqueville’s characterization of the future citizens of democracy as a herd of sheep, which, accustomed to regulation in the smallest detail by a supposedly benevolent authority, has become incapable of independent thought and action? Theodore Dalrymple

When you smile, you just feel happy, and if you feel happy you can make other people happy. – Judith Collins

It’s really simply saying if you’ve got people who come from dysfunctional and difficult families, you’re going to end up spending more money on them, so put that effort in early on to try and keep them out of trouble later on, and also end up with better health and social outcomes. – Judith Collins

If you’re going to borrow, you need to do it now while the interest rates are low, and you’ve got things to do it with, but you can’t be so crazy that you end up leaving your children and grandchildren with debt to deal with, you’ve got to be able to pay it back. – Judith Collins

So when I finally leave this place, in another decade or so, it will be knowing that I’ve done my utter best for the country, and for the party I think and know should be leading the government. – Judith Collins

. . . the fact of progress is much less useful to political entrepreneurs than is the narrative of history as nothing but a nightmare that continues to the present day and, as Marx put it, weighs upon the brain of the living. Only by keeping the memory of the nightmare ever-present in the minds of their sheep, thereby stoking resentment, may the political shepherds herd, and then fleece, the flock. – Theodore Dalrymple

Because resentment has certain sour satisfactions, it is one of the few emotions that can persist unabated for years: indeed, it tends to increase, because it exists in a mental echo-chamber. One such sour satisfaction is that it allows the one who feels it to think himself morally superior to the world as it is at present constituted, even if he has done nothing to improve it, or done something to make it a little worse. And where resentment leads to action rather than to passivity, it is almost always action that is destructive rather than constructive. It leads also to a considerable quantity of humbug, insofar as it primes people to look for new justifications for their dissatisfactions, and to claim that they cannot be happy until there is no more unhappiness caused by injustice in the world.Theodore Dalrymple

I live in what is perhaps the most successful country in dealing with Covid – barring Taiwan. And yet what I see around me is a total, total mess. – Eric Crampton

The over-arching communications policy from the Beehive and top officials seems to have been: if we get up on the yellow stripey podium and repeat statements that are not yet true enough times, by the umpteenth time we say them, hopefully they will be true. . . .While it’s obvious the authorities who address us daily have at times been kept in butt-protecting ignorance by their underlings, their suspiciously careful language suggests they’ve had a fair idea this was happening. Jane Clifton

The kind one is so very unkind when she relishes people hanging on to hear what is going to happen to their lives, their families, jobs and businesses, but blathers on endlessly. It’s so disrespectful, so self-centered and self-serving. – Lindsay Mitchell

“I’ve seen health systems manage medical emergencies worse than this but it takes some doing. It’s like we’re living in a parallel universe. Des Gorman

There is plenty of evidence in the bizarrely vague testing regime applied to New Zealanders working at the border that Pike River levels of incompetence and dysfunction lurk in the public health system and could yet be fatally exposed.Pattrick Smellie

A campaign before an election is as critical as election day itself. As things are, there is nothing free or fair about the politicians’ ability to do that. . . It borders on being almost undemocratic to hold an election in the near future. – Claire Trevett

Uncertainty is like cancer to free enterprise and it can spread rapidly. Firms stop investing, stop hiring, stop planning and start acting with caution to preserve their arteries. – Ryan Bridge

Commentators dismiss such concerns as placing the economy ahead of lives but they fail to understand that the ‘economy’ is a word we use describe the aggregation of all our lives. It is the means by which we feed, clothe and educate ourselves. It is how we find fulfilment, enjoyment and entertainment.

The real problem of these intermittent lockdowns isn’t the temporary shock but the uncertainty they build into our commercial life. Businesses need to forecast revenue, especially if they are expanding or investing. This becomes impossible in the ferment of uncertainty created by our obsession with this coronavirusDamien Grant

When did we all get so binary and, in some cases, bats*** crazy? Those who worship at the Church of St Jacinda and the Holy Bloomfield are blind to any wrongs or failings of their demigods.

You simply cannot have a free and frank exchange of views with some people – it’s like the Springbok tour all over again. If you dare to suggest the Government has made mistakes, the acolytes cast you into the camp of the conspiracy theorists who are alive and well and fomenting their madness all across social media. They – the acolytes and the tinfoil hat-wearers – are blind to reason and rationale. – Kerrie McIvor

Liberals virtue-signalling their praise for a leader who ‘puts people before money’ are like those who praise Venezuela or Cuba – they don’t have to deal with the misery caused by their idols. It seems they care far more about platitudes than people. – Matt Drake

Sure, if you’re after smiles and warm fuzzies, the PM’s a good communicator. But good communication must also contain facts, trust, and honesty. –  Kate Hawkesby

It shows the danger of policy by press release, that actually there needs to be follow-through. – Gerard Hehir

It’s an enormous red flag if Cabinet and the ministry have completely different ideas about what is meant to be happening.Derek Cheng

This is a hard problem, and, sometimes, in situations like this, with huge complexity and many balls in the air, one of them gets dropped. When that happens, this Opposition will help pick up that ball and put it back in its correct place. There will be a time to understand how the ball was dropped, but first we will help put it back, and then we’ll figure out how not to drop it again. – Shane Reti

There is more at stake here than election year politicking. A serious communication breakdown between officials on the ground and ministers in the war room is unacceptable, but a failure to account for how it happened is worse. This is the second time assurances about testing at the border have turned out to be simply untrue, and the second time ministers have been caught by surprise. A government agency that can’t or won’t execute policy is an embarrassment in normal times, and a serious risk to public safety during a pandemic. Management of those bureaucrats is very squarely the responsibility of politicians. – Ben Thomas

I take issue with the Prime Minister’s constant mantra of “we went hard and fast”. If we’d gone fast – as in closing the border more quickly – we wouldn’t have had to go as hard in terms of lockdowns, businesses forced to shut their doors and Government borrowing an unprecedented amount to prop up the economy. – Heather Roy

It’s hard to imagine a much easier scenario for contact tracers than this. One cluster, one family, their contacts, caught early, as the Prime Minister says. So, if our health authorities can’t handle something this simple without locking down a city of 1.7 million, what hope is there that this is our last lockdown?

Lockdowns should not be the go-to option. They should be the last resort. They are too expensive. They cost people’s livelihoods, their jobs and their businesses.

This is not an objection to the attempts to prevent Covid’s spread. It is an objection to health authorities having no option but nuclear, because they weren’t ready for something they knew would happen. It is an objection to the failure of those authorities and the ministers in charge of them to prepare the safeguards to prevent another lockdown. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The discovery of community transmission in Auckland not only rocked the smug complacency coming from the top down and affecting all of us, but also raised blunt, difficult questions that drew uncomfortable answers about how well the “team of five million” had actually been doing. It turns out the border control programme was not watertight after all, with personnel associated with the new arrivals not being tested at all, even though they were being potentially exposed on a daily basis to the virus. And the level of community testing was nothing like the government had led us to believe. Peter Dunne

They’ve often hidden behind the fact that there’s no rule book for coping with a pandemic, but there are books with rules and they are called the statutes containing the laws of the land – and if the lawmakers don’t understand them, what hope is there for the rule of law in this country? – Barry Soper

We all have imperfections but it doesn’t doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be loved or shouldn’t love yourself. . . No matter where you’re from you can change people’s lives forever for the better. –  Dustin Luther

Child poverty was a national crisis before Covid-19 and without urgent action, it risks turning into a catastrophe. – Anita Baker

What happened, happened. You cannot “unhappen” history. – Henry Armstrong

Sometimes an issue is so serious or the failure so obvious that you have to drop the buzz phrases, quit the dissembling and level with the public. They may even thank you for it, and they’ll be more inclined to believe what you say in the future.

As it is, we are approaching a risky point where the public may stop believing the Government and its spin — which is tricky when you are dealing with a pandemic. – Steven Joyce

From the experience of those who served in Clark’s administration, A Visit From Heather was a phenomenon which, could it be distilled, would make a world-beating laxative and emetic combined.  – Jane Clifton

In this outbreak emergency, the daily briefings convey vital public health information. It is important we can trust in their veracity. But as long as they are led by ministers, the backdrop will always be politics. And, to paraphrase George Orwell, political language is often designed to make lies sound truthful. – Andrea Vance

One year I asked the administrator whether I could sit not five subjects but six subjects, like all my friends were. I remember the reply: ‘No, Shane. You’re a Māori boy. You’ll do five.’  

My internal response was a call to arms: ‘Right. I will show you.’

My external response was to win the English prize that year. No, not for me six subjects. I was still allowed to sit only five. But many years later, when I was promoted to assistant professor at Harvard, I think I made my point.

I won, but many Maori do not. The educational aspirations of Maori must never ever be bound by the preconceptions of others. – Shane Reti

It’s been a wee while coming, but I’ve finally had enough of the platitudes, and sentimental psycho-babble. – Polly Gillespie

The lack of accountability is staggering. The Prime Minister refuses to blame anyone, now she’s blaming the trickiness of a virus. No one has talked to me like that since I was at Horohoro kindy. David Seymour

There is a hierarchy of news and I don’t put analysis at the top of it. I rank opinion even further down the scale. – Gavin Ellis

I decided to forgive you Mr Tarrant because I don’t have hate, I don’t have revenge. The damage is done, Hussein will never be here. I have only one choice but to forgive you. Janna Ezat

 Strong, stable families with intact work ethics. Those characteristics nurture and protect children to a much greater extent than cash hand-outs.  – Lindsay Mitchell

“Science is a mechanism,” refers to the idea that science is about applying experimentation and observation to those things about which we are uncertain. Its job is to lay the foundation for the development of theories, not facts. And, when we toss an existing theory into the bin because it isn’t supported by emerging data, that is a victory for science. Thus, true science requires us to keep an open mind… on an ongoing basis. – Lisa Taylor

As a parent, no matter how old your children are they will always be your babies forever. – Rashid Omar

I urge you to take a look around this courtroom and ask yourself, who exactly is the other here right now? Is it us, or is it you?Sara Qasem 

If all humans have one characteristic in common it would be the ability to overcome and forget the past. Something we clearly can do, but something you clearly cannot do – for two reasons. The first reason is that you don’t have a future, so you don’t live anywhere but the past alone and lonely. The second reason is that you are not actually a human, not even an animal since animals are beneficial to the world. You are classified as someone who’s dumb enough not to realise beyond the skin all humans are the same. – Mustafa Boztas

Cant matters for a number of reasons that the authors enumerate. It destroys moderation. It is cruel and intolerant towards those who think differently. It divides people into the saved and the damned. Because it is one-sided and does not recognise the complexity of life, let alone the tragic dimension of life, it encourages bad policy in the name of some supposedly immaculate principle. People who cant are often willing to decimate a countryside because actual results as experienced by others do not interest them. What they are interested in is how they appear morally to others, and that only as a means to advancement. Cant is careerist. – Theodore Dalrymple

The leader of the Green Party, which purports publicly to be the party of the downtrodden and dispossessed, has inadvertently revealed itself for what many think it actually is – a party that mostly serves well-heeled Kiwis in secure and well-paid employment that care about the environment, climate change and want to go cycling and tramping on the weekend. – Luke Malpass

The self-employed are the equivalent of the small private lots of land that communist societies would allow farmers to tend for their own benefit. From these small plots of dirt was produced a vastly disproportionate amount of produce while the vast collective farms produced little. Damien Grant

There is a limit to how much NZers are prepared to pay for cleaner water. – Chris Nixon

Just like KiwiBuild, Auckland Light Rail, the Capital Gains Tax and effective climate change policies, this Government got bogged down in a welter of working groups, coalition disputes, bureaucratic infighting and stonewalling, and an inability at the top level of Cabinet to direct the organs of Government to carry out its will. Weak and overwhelmed ministers accepted ‘Yes Minister’ for an answer and were not able to stop the initial energy and direction from dribbling away into the sands of endless consultation, trials and ways for officials to avoid taking risks or challenging the status quo.  Bernard Hickey

If Minister Faafoi thinks paying one hundred million dollars to keep Auckland out of level four for the past three weeks is a risk, then the other risk he’s just taken has just cost us way more. I have no idea why people are treating Sam the way they did and why Minister Faafoi seemed to dismiss Sam today as being sort of petulant. Minister Faafoi and those ministers, if they can’t respond fast and quickly enough they need to step aside. – Ian Taylor

Economic reform is all about the rules that businesses play under and it’s a bit like rugby. Make the rules too tight or confusing and the game collapses into a bunch of whistle and stop-start time-wasting. Loosen them up, the game flows, points can be scored and jobs created.  Steven Joyce

Did I need pills? No, I needed love, I needed aroha. I needed someone to provide the environment where I could be the best possible version of myself. – Tricia Walsh

And how powerful, once seen, is the knowledge of genuine commitment and love in smothering out the petty grievances and the misunderstandings! Love indeed covers a multitude of sins. John Anderson

 . . . one of the greatest predictors of how well we turn out as people, and how society turns out, is the presence of decent fathering. We need to end the silence on this. If we really care about our children, and our boys in particular, (the prison statistics alone tell us how serious their crisis is) we would own a simple truth whether convenient or not and start talking about the critical importance of fathering. John Anderson

When it came time to vote, I asked my grandfather, “Who should I vote for?” He said, “The National Party. They’ll back you.” And that’s been my experience. Shelley Pilkington

I know that the values of personal responsibility, hard work and reward for effort are not just political ideology; they actually work. But to achieve these things well, we also need strong families and caring communities – another key National Party value. We need to be surrounded by people who believe in us – like my grandad – who invest their time and attention to lift and encourage others to be everything they were meant to be; and to be supported by a government that gives people a hand up, not just a hand out. – Shelley Pilkington

The real lesson from this is, instead of saying this is an irritant that we’re going to deal with and bat out the way and life will go back to the way it used to be, we have to be a little more comfortable about taking a leaf out of the HIV book and saying that this is a new pathogen that’s going to change the environment within which we behave. That’s what life is – that’s evolution.David Nabarro

Our farmers are efficient, effective and see farming as a long term commitment to the land and their communities. If the Government wants us to become one big Pamu-type corporate entity that ticks every audit box, has a farm technician on every corner, and contributes bugger all to the social, economic and environmental GDP of the country, then they are going the right way about it.- Jane Smith

What I think is really important to understand is that we cannot simply borrow our way out of a recession, what we need to do is build our way out of it.Judith Collins

Despite the Ministry of Health lifting the Lockdown rules in line with New Zealand’s risk level, the messaging to the public has led to an acceptance of rules for rules sake. We are living in a community where rules based on fear, not science, are considered enough and questioning the logic of these rules is seen as rebellion.

The result is marginalising those in the community who respect evidence-based decision making. This is the status quo, and I do not think it is kind. Nor does it align with the can-do and curious nature that New Zealanders are known for. – Emily Broadmore

Let’s put essential industries aside. We should be looking at what’s a safe industry. Can anyone explain to me why a diary is allowed to open but the local butchers next door can’t? And the answer is because someone has decided that one is essential and the other’s not. – Judith Collins

You generally don’t have successful top-level athletes complaining about their treatment. They tend to live by the Hamish Bond philosophy of “make sure you are the best, then your ability is never questioned”. They are the types of athletes normally content with the outcome of their goals, who walk away from sport on their own terms. Eric Murray

For myself, all that I hope is that when I next consult with someone towards the end of their life, is that I have neither hastened or prolonged death; that I can offer effective pain relief and care; that I can create a space for important shared moments and know that our healthcare system have adequately developed services for supporting people near death. One that supports all people equally, when they are most at need.Dr Carmen Chan

People need to understand Kiwibuild is not an aberration. It is the norm in terms of delivery vs rhetoric. – David Farrar

But posing and posturing have become a mass phenomenon, the tattooing of our time. Of nothing is this more true than contemporary Woke morality. Whereas not long ago young people of the middle classes sought to express their sympathy for the lower and supposedly oppressed orders by imitating their tattoos and way of dress, imitation being the highest form of empathy available to egotists, they now express the same desire by making Wokeness the touchstone of their morality. They think they are rebelling when, of course, they are conforming. They do not realize that it is more difficult, and more courageous, to contradict a friend than to criticize a society. – Theodore Dalrymple

 If anything has been institutionalized, it is not racism but guilt, though guilt of a peculiar, ersatz, dishonest kind. – Theodore Dalrymple

Nevertheless, posers and posturers prefer to concentrate on distant problems because they require nothing of them except the expression of the right opinions and sometimes a protest, demonstration, or even riot, which of course is a pleasure rather than a discipline, in the way that acting virtuously is a discipline. – Theodore Dalrymple

 No honest person who takes the trouble to read it can see the novel as transphobic. But then honest people are hard to find in a culture war. – Nick Cohen

The poor seldom come out of a crisis better off. Imagine if in 1938, when Michael Joseph Savage increased his majority, instead of creating the welfare state he promised a new holiday. That’s where we are now.Josie Pagani

It is always better for a government to do everything possible, even if useless, than to do nothing, even if the results are no worse. It follows from all these considerations that to impose a quarantine was politically all but inevitable because the object of government is not to save lives but to save itself. No doubt this is not as it should be, ideally speaking, but it is the way of the world. – Theodore Dalrymple

The tapestry of the past is composed of dark and light, but by looking at the light, and acknowledging it, instead of focusing only on the dark, we can see how the light has showed us the way to a more just, more compassionate present. The light can inspire and lead us out of the darkness of injustice or cruelty into the possibilities of a fairer kinder future.  Valerie Davies

Under the government’s new projections, people will be poorer, opportunities will be more limited, communities will face increased pressure and home prices will continue climbing, unhampered by pandemic or recession. If you’re a millennial New Zealander and you haven’t purchased a home yet, this is as close as the government will come to telling you that part of the Kiwi dream is now dead and buried. – Justin Giovannetti

Kneecap farming exports by say 10% and expect unemployment to rise, tax revenues shrink and government debt to increase.Wayne Mapp

You do not want to find yourself in the middle of next year, having just lost your job, relying on a bunch of people with a track record of dithering and not delivering,and wishing that you had voted National. – Judith Collins

 When it comes to politics, people will always prefer policy-based evidence to the evidence-based policy.  Liam Hehir

Well, yeah I do understand where money comes from. It comes from hard work, and other people’s often. I will not manage myself to conform to a view of women that we all need to be soft and cuddly. – Judith Collins

It’s conviction politics. You stand for something. If you stand for something, and you can proudly articulate it, and stand by it, that’s a significantly easier position to take, and to hold. Much more than one which depends on what a pollster says, or a focus group. I’ve never focus grouped, personally. – Judith Collins

The world is in the midst of a cultural war known as The Great Awokening. Armies of young progressives, media personalities, journalists, bureaucrats, and academics have seized the moment to demand that the rest of society must have only one set of correct thoughts about race, gender, and sex. Should you express the opinion that all lives matter instead of Black Lives Matter or call someone a coloured person instead of a person of colour, you risk losing your livelihood or being visited by a mob intent on changing your mind by intimidation.- Gerry Bowler

If from a great height of authority you tell people that they are helpless, that is what they will become, especially when they derive some kind of self-destructive short-term benefit from being or acting helpless, such as the ability to continue to take drugs in the knowledge that it is not their fault.  – Theodore Dalrymple

Farmers have enough on their plate with weather, interest rates, and international markets, they shouldn’t have to contend with a government who doesn’t understand their sector and restricts their growth.  New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of quality and sustainable agricultural products is well known around the world. When we form the next government, our pledge is to ensure that our agricultural policy focuses on allowing farmers the opportunity to farm their way to better outcomes, rather than being regulated into oblivion. – Judith Collins

You don’t trade off freedom for security. In fact it isn’t a trade off. Less freedom makes you less secure.David Farrar

But beyond that, what did the debate tell us? It told me Judith Collins has life experience and not just in law. When social problems came up she could refer to her childhood in a sub-standard house and her husband feeling he should leave school too young. She grew up on a farm. When Jacinda Ardern talks on these subjects she sounds like a policy paper. – John Roughan

In fact actually she’s good in a disaster – I’d go so far as to call her a disaster Prime Minister. – David Seymour

Yet mercy is not a given. It is a value we must nurture and aspire to. Tolerance allows the spirit of enquiry the confidence to roam freely, to make mistakes, to self-correct, to be bold, to dare to doubt and in the process to chance upon new and more advanced ideas. Without mercy society grows inflexible, fearful, vindictive and humourless. – Nick Cave

As far as I can see, cancel culture is mercy’s antithesis. Political correctness has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world. Its once honourable attempt to reimagine our society in a more equitable way now embodies all the worst aspects that religion has to offer (and none of the beauty) — moral certainty and self-righteousness shorn even of the capacity for redemption. It has become quite literally, bad religion run amuck. – Nick Cave

Late last year the National Farmers Federation set the laudable goal of increasing the value of farm production from about $60bn a year to $100bn a year by 2030. Good luck. The regulators and their enforcers have other ideas. Their intention is to limit the expansion of farming and, if possible, force it into retreat, turning farmers from food producers into unpaid stewards of native trees and grasses. – Nick Cater

From coronavirus to saving threatened species, absolutism, risk aversion and an absence of proportion are hallmarks of contemporary public policy. . . Ad hoc decisions are made in favour of assumed benefits without reference to the cost to farmers, farm output, export earnings or the cost of food. Nick Cater

God deliver us from the hands of zealots. They exist in different guises in every age, lay claim to being the era’s moral guardians and demand no more than complete obedience to their ordained order. They only burn heretics in sorrow, for their own good and that of society. . . .Now the bureaucratic state dictates morality and the devil is discrimination, in all his endlessly evolving forms. The crime is giving any perceived offence. The weapon is the law. – Chris Uhlmann

The truth is, if I do have sad eyes it’s because I live in a world where people with very superficial analysis are constantly impinging on each other with higher taxes and more regulations than would otherwise be necessary. David Seymour

A vote for NZ First has always been a vote for disruption, chaos and a nihilistic anarchy to disrupt the status quo without any vision about what to put in its place. – Damien Grant

One of the best ways to tell a lie is to embed it in the midst of high-sounding verbiage. This is so common a method that one is sometimes unsure whether a lie is being told or an untruth merely enunciated.Theodore Dalrymple

Many people can say fine words. That’s easy, but who can understand the detail and the workflow that can actually deliver it for you? – Shane Reti

We are creating our own hurdles at a rate higher than any other primary producer in the world. For every dollar spent on food worldwide, the farmer receives on average, less than 10 cents.Jane Smith

This is not Monopoly money, it’s money that our kids and grandkids will have to pay back. – Judith Collins

Despite the Tramadol the pain is getting worse. Comes and goes but spikes at probably an 8.5/10 on the pain scale. Now to be fair that is the male pain scale, so probably just a 2.5 on the female pain scale, but nevertheless was enough for me to be actually yelling out loud. –  David Farrar

Age may be an imperfect proxy for maturity or competence; there will always be precocious children above, and incompetent adults below, the line wherever it is drawn.- Justice Jan-Marie Doogue 

Whatever this is, it’s not journalism as I understand it. It’s a continuation of a long-standing trend whereby journalists see themselves not as mere observers and reporters of the political process, but as active players and agitators. – Karl du Fresne

Onslow would save an average of 300,000 tonnes of CO2 per year at a cost of at least $1300/tonne. The current CO2 price is $32. Keeping the aluminium smelter in operation could save 2,500,000 tons of worldwide emissions each year at a cost of about $100 million or $40/tonne and has the potential to significantly minimise the dry year problem. – Bryan Leyland

There is a pit of doom major parties in New Zealand can fall into, when their soft centre supporters abandon them for their centrist opponent and another cohort of voters on the fringe deserts them for a more radical and exciting minor party. This happened to National in 2002, and to Labour in 2014, and Judith Collins has spent her three months as National leader grimly hanging onto the edge of this pit, trying to claw her way out while Jacinda Ardern stamps on her fingers and kicks at her hands, all the time smiling beatifically while reminding the rest of us to be kind.Danyl Mclauchlan

Ardern has learned from her first term in government that if she promises anything substantive her caucus and the public service will fail to deliver it, so best to promise nothing. – Danyl Mclauchlan

When politicians call for reform of the tax system, they are really saying there needs to be more taxation in order to meet their expenditure. The perpetually aggrieved present an implausible argument that is deficient in equity and logic, which is – the more you distribute other people’s income, the wealthier the nation becomes.   –  Gerry Eckhoff

This year has illustrated for me that we are not a nation of dissenters, we are a nation of conformists. Margaret Thatcher once said that “when people have freedom to choose, they choose freedom”. Well, apparently not in New Zealand. Like so many other years in our history, 2020 is yet another year of compliance and conformity, and deference by individual New Zealanders to the power of the state. Even motorway road-signs ordering us to be kind don’t seem to arouse any concerns among the trusting, dependent New Zealand public. I have come to realise that those of us in whom those signs aroused Orwellian visions of the future are a very small minority indeed. – Chris Finlayson

We are trying to live a five star lifestyle on a two star income.   We spend like a fat cat and earn like an alley cat.  We want the cake with all the trimmings but we can barely afford the flour and sugar. – Owen Jennings

We are becoming a nation of low performing advisors.  Politicians from central Government to community boards cannot make decisions any more.  They don’t have the gumption or the training and they don’t have the guts to deliver. They hide behind faceless consultants and toothless committees.  Costs go up and productivity goes down. – Owen Jennings

Suddenly, the issues on which her government had previously been struggling to the point where election defeat looked more likely than not were totally forgotten. Two errant Ministers were got rid of, and, with the exception of a couple of overworked loyalists, the largely incompetent remainder were quickly put in the broom cupboard, until after the election. – Peter Dunne

Democratic values are under attack as never before in modern history. The breadth, intensity and viciousness of this attack is breathtaking. Where it will lead is impossible to say. That will largely depend on whether society recognises what’s at stake and has the will to dig in and resist it. – Karl du Fresne

Having realised decades ago that that the fight between capitalism and classical Marxist economics was lost, the extreme left opened a new front. They attacked liberal democracy’s soft underbelly: its values, conventions, institutions and philosophical foundations.Suddenly a whole range of bedrock values, from the right to free speech to belief in fixed biological gender, was under savage attack. The underlying purpose is to destabilise society and therefore render it amenable to radical change. – Karl du Fresne

Some woke ideas (most notably the belief that sexual identity is a mere societal construct, “assigned at birth” as if by some conscious and arbitrary human intervention) strike most New Zealanders as demonstrably barking mad, but that hasn’t stopped them being  embraced by radical zealots and championed by sympathetic polemicists in the news media. – Karl du Fresne

We hear a lot from such groups about the need to embrace diversity, but the one diversity they don’t tolerate is diversity of opinion. Yet free speech is the currency of liberal democracy. Once we accept curbs on our right to engage in free and robust discussion of contentious issues (but stopping short of advocating active discrimination or incitements to violence, which present law rightly prohibits anyway), we risk becoming what might be called an illiberal democracy: one in which we may still be free to vote for the politicians of our choice, but without our votes being informed by full and open debate. Putin-style democracy, in other words. – Karl du Fresne

I never vote early. If your candidate is arrested you cannot get your vote back. – Richard Prebble

History has shown that government-led recoveries don’t work. Regeneration has to be driven by business growth, not 50 shades of tax. You cannot tax your country into wealth. Urban New Zealand, when regulators are determined to drive your farming, energy and manufacturing sectors into the ground – we all pay the price. –  Jane Smith

Under the cover of Covid, I believe fear has overtaken free thinking, and we have forgotten that elections are not about the here and now – they are about deciding which pathway we take to protect future generations. –  Jane Smith

Electioneering is short, consequences are long. Our leaders should be running a country, not an arms race. How can we promise $11.7 M to a wealthy overseas owned “green” school but have child poverty at an all-time crisis level? –  Jane Smith

You don’t need a degree in telemetry to see that the myriad of policies touted on the electioneering circuit don’t add up, particularly the ones that not only bite the hand that feeds the country, but chop off both arms and legs – and then ask those food producing and manufacturing sectors to run an economic marathon. – Jane Smith

The great irony is that we were sold MMP on the basis that it made politicians more accountable, when the exact reverse is the case. It’s the very antithesis of transparency. – Karl du Fresne

Imagine someone scraping all the maddest bits from the carcass of Facebook — a reclaimed slurry of 5G alarmism, anti-vax propaganda and scaremongering about electromagnets — and turning it into a manifesto. That, very roughly, is the Public Party. Sarah Ditum

Carve any subject down to its barest conflicts, and you won’t help people find enlightenment and resolution. Instead, you’ll make them feel attacked, embattled, inflexible. In a recent piece Amanda Ripley warned of the dangers of journalism that goes in pursuit of simplicity; and which has, unfortunately, the effect of making everyone more committed to the certainties they’ve already chosen. Instead, she says, they should look for complexity, arguing that “Complexity counters this craving, restoring the cracks and inconsistencies that had been air-brushed out of the picture. It’s less comforting, yes. But it’s also more interesting — and true.”Sarah Ditum

But which aspect of inequality should we be worried about? There are inequalities of opportunity and inequalities of outcome; there is overall inequality and there is inequality at the tails of the distribution. Should we be more worried about absolute or relative positions – mobility or stability? What is really more important, the distribution of the economic pie or the level and growth of living standards? – Michael Boskin

It is time to start harnessing the power of the market rather than the government. That is how we will replace dependency with opportunity and upward mobility. – Michael Boskin

Well listen here people, and I say this as a Party loyalist and activist with a certain pedigree, I hold each and every one of you jointly and severally responsible for what happened last Saturday night.  Put bluntly. You had collectively forfeited the right to govern and we (the Party) paid the price.The Veteran

A caucus that leaks is not and never can be an effective opposition. – The Veteran

The way in which we value food is mysterious. As an example, if you look at the price of apples in New Zealand in April (peak harvest time) and compare them with a takeaway coffee, the takeaway coffee is consistently higher: over the past 10 years the price of a takeaway coffee was 50 per cent higher than a kilo of apples. Interestingly, both apples and coffee are considered beneficial in getting you going in the morning (but there are around 10 apples in a kilo compared with one coffee). Dr Helen Darling

Bad ideas owe their advance into mainstream thinking not just to bad people but also to otherwise decent people going along with such notions out of cowardice or other weakness. The censorship of any thinking which conflicts with the orthodoxies of identity politics is increasingly destroying the western university as the crucible of reason, along with its core purpose to advance knowledge through the free play of evidence, ideas and argument.Melanie Phillips

Some might think that not just Lord of the Flies but George Orwell’s 1984 are no longer fiction but have become, terrifyingly, our contemporary reality. – Melanie Phillips

In no other country has the pendulum swung so far from traditional school knowledge towards more esoteric “21st century skills.” Today, while nearly every school leaver gets a certificate, many of them – about two fifths – are functionally illiterate and innumerate.

The dumbing down of our school system is a scandal. And while those responsible probably had the best intentions, the bigger scandal is that they now try to explain away this poor performance.

It frankly baffles me that when someone points out our poor education results, they are routinely criticised of elitism, Eurocentrism or other such nonsense. The truth is that teaching a broad, knowledge-rich and stimulating education would help precisely those children without elite or privileged backgrounds.

The education system’s pursuit of noble and progressive goals has tragically sacrificed the future of Kiwi children. In doing so, it is not just cementing but widening ethnic and class divides. – Dr Oliver Hartwich

The only Green Party we have had in Parliament has been a collection of political activists far more energised by social concerns and antagonism to capitalism than environmental projects. – John Roughan

Genuine Greens understand that environmental values can very effectively be priced into business and market behaviour through carbon taxes or tradeable emissions permits under a descending cap. Some of the Greens in our Parliament have no idea how markets work. – John Roughan

The risks, as they say, are almost all to the downside. The question must be asked, are we all completely mis-pricing that risk?

Have we convinced ourselves that we are living in a hermetically sealed paradise, where nothing can touch us and what is happening in the rest of the world has no bearing on our jobs and livelihoods? If that is the case, we might be heading for a rude shock. – Steven Joyce

So how does this all end? Well, no matter what anyone says, there is no such thing as a free lunch. As the economic damage of Covid-19 plays out, asset prices will revert to more sensible numbers.

The only question seems to be whether it will happen gradually or suddenly. We will also pay for this massive fiscal and monetary stimulus in increased taxes, spending controls, higher inflation, more sluggish growth or a combination of all four. – Steven Joyce

Labour and the Greens have always wanted state funding of political parties, but they need to be careful of putting narrow political interest ahead of public interest. . . .Major changes to our electoral law need to have broad public support, Labour and the Greens need to remember that.- Nick Smith

The extreme abnormality of his behavior faded into simply Trump being Trump. He developed immunity to condemnation by way of lowered expectations. – James Hamblin

Whatever the result of the election, it’s always best to accept that and do so with good grace. Just as it is when someone wins an election, to act in the best interests of their country, and to show good grace in that too. – Judith Collins

The truth is that Trump himself is not America’s problem: he is a symptom of that nation’s problems. –Sir John Key

The challenge for the next President – whoever it is – is to get America’s mojo back, to reduce inequality and to harness the promise of the American dream. The challenge is that instead of trying to go it alone, the next US President again wears the mantle of the leader of the free world not as a burden to be shunned, but as a badge of honour to be celebrated. – Sir John Key

In like fashion, the word nostalgia, the melancholic or bittersweet looking back on the irrecoverable past, is nowadays wielded as a rhetorical weapon, as if the past were nothing but a chamber of horrors in a waxworks museum. Whoever is accused of nostalgia is a person of weak mind and probably of ill-will. The past is another country, where they do everything worse than we do now; we have nothing to learn from it, at least nothing of positive value, and we have only lessons to give it, tut-tutting at its deviation from our present state of complete and final enlightenment.

The fact that today is tomorrow’s past, and that if we teach no respect for history (except for those figures who were direct intellectual forerunners of ourselves), we too shall soon be consigned to that capacious repository, the dustbin of history, does not occur to those who reprehend both conservatism and nostalgia. But surely a person who has reached a certain age without feeling nostalgia has lived a very unfortunate, indeed a wretched, life. – Theodore Dalrymple 

By applying a single rate on the incomes of all taxpayers, the flat tax requires that voters impose a proportional tax increase on themselves while seeking to raise revenue from their high-income neighbors. Such a move, of course, proves less attractive. To be sure, the unlimited ability of the state to enact various transfer programs partially undermines the effectiveness of the flat tax. But progressives want to remove the constraint imposed by the flat tax because they know that people are less willing to raise taxes on others when they have to raise them on themselves. – Richard Epstein

Tolerance is one of those many qualities, such as bravery or originality, that in itself is neither good nor bad, but whose worth depends upon many other considerations. A precondition of tolerance, of course, is disapproval, for there is no need to exercise tolerance of what we approve of or are indifferent to. We can all tolerate what we approve of; it is in the exercise of control over the expression, verbal or in action, of our disapproval that tolerance lies. Such control may shade into stupidity or pusillanimity if it leads to tolerance of what ought not be tolerated; we call intolerant those people who do not accept what they ought to accept. Often our designation reveals as much about us as it reveals about them. – Theodore Dalrymple

As to equality of opportunity, no more horrible concept could be imagined, not only because a total absence of opportunity would be compatible with it, but because, even to try seriously to achieve it, official interference would have to be so great that it would make North Korea look like a libertarian paradise. A society can offer opportunity to almost everyone, but not equality of opportunity, and to aim at the impossible is often to miss the possible. Theodore Dalrymple

I know that deep black hole that opens up in the middle of your chest and makes you feel like you’re being sucked into it. I know how mean, cruel, and unfair life can be sometimes… but I found the best way through pain, and loss and grief is to find purpose. – Joe Biden

I’m more worried about the tendency of progressive social movements to value their differences above their common goals or to seek economic advantage without working for a more sustainable economic system.  – Christopher Tremewan

At every funeral I’ve ever been to, necessary catharsis is often found in what my Irish-Catholic, rugby-loving family describe as the ‘after match’. Most cultures have evolved practices that, through the breaking of bread and the sharing of stories, pull us out of our isolation and individual grief and back into the collective experience of farewelling a loved one. It provides a kind of temporary, full stop to the profound intensity of loss. Irreverence counters reverence, jokes replace solemnity and food nourishes both body and soul. These communal experiences ground us, reminding us of the legacy of love left behind by the person we have said goodbye to. They exist not as frivolous excuses for a hooley but as a necessary part of moving us through to the next stage. –  Anna Rawhiti-Connell

When equality means equal outcomes, it removes individual effort and requires chopping everyone down to the same level. – Oliver Hartwich

When a society forgets what excellence is, it worships mediocrity. And the only way to notice the misstep is to look at other countries and compare. – Oliver Hartwich

Kiwis have mothballed their ambition. We have forgotten about growing the pie so we can share it. We have given up on excellence in favour of wellbeing, kindness and not rocking the boat. I am convinced this country can do better. But to achieve excellence, we must demand it. From our councils, our national politicians, our schools, our businesses – and, crucially, from ourselves. – Oliver Hartwich

The next question many people ask is what’s the difference between a median house price and an average house price? That’s a very good question which can be answered like this – the median house price is the price of just one house that you cannot afford to buy, whereas the average house price is the price of many houses that you cannot afford to buy.   – James Elliott

New Zealand is a victim of its own success. The low visibility of Covid-19 here means people are less likely to wear masks, scan QR codes, use hand sanitiser, get tested and stay home when sick. We’re stuck in something of a paradox – the better we handle Covid-19, the more our response is jeopardised in the future. – Marc Daalder

When considering whether life is getting better or worse, we need to remember to do the maths. The numbers show it’s not all bad news, and most of it is good news. Just because something is bad today doesn’t mean it was better in the past. We have reason be sceptical, but many more reasons to be optimistic, and especially to be grateful. – Andrew Taberner

I can see a guy hitting the face of one of my men. I’m playing for my country. That’s not respect. – Pablo Matera

Everything is hard in Argentina. At the moment it is one of the toughest times in our country. We wanted to show our people when you fight and work hard you get what you fight for. Pablo Matera

MPs who are bitter, angry or disappointed need to suck it up and move on. Dwelling on the past few months will do nothing to win the election in 2023. The only way forward is through positivity.   – Monique Poirier

The simple fact is that under current policy settings, micro-economic policies that attempt to artificially boost incomes beyond what businesses and the economy can afford will simply end up driving a bigger wedge between the haves and the have nots in terms of asset prices and wealth, through the mechanism of ever lower interest rates. We are chasing our tails. – Steven Joyce

Our system – and worldwide it is the case – eliminates mavericks. How high does your tolerance for boredom need to be before you are willing to sit in Parliament under Trevor Mallard? How patient (or ambivalent to results) do you need to be to hold a Ministry and work with State sector leaders (all of whom seem to have grey as their favourite colour)? – Alwyn Poole

It’s accepting that while nobody can reasonably demand perfection, these leakages are too often and too many. It’s simply asking that those tasked with designing and overseeing the systems that keep us safe do so to the level whereby they will own any and all failures. Until that time, these cases will continue. There will be spiralling consequences radiating out from the incident and affecting huge numbers of people in and out of New Zealand, and eventually one – maybe this one, maybe the next – will spread further, and kill someone.Duncan Grieve

The word austerity is already disingenuous, to put it no stronger. The word in this context means the attempt to align government expenditure a little more closely with government income. It certainly does not mean hair shirts and monastic silence in unheated stone-walled rooms. – Theodore Dalrymple

 It seemed to me that rather than be overwhelmed by times that try men’s souls, we can still dream of making a better world; that small happinesses, and committed kindnesses, and goodwill to all men can be the yeast that quietly help us all to rise above fear, judgement, grief, and anger, or despair, doubt and despondency during this turn of the wheel. These small happinesses bring us back to the present moment, and anchor us in the goodness of the world. – Valerie Davies 

If you do not get enough money to run your business, you haven’t got a business. If you can’t extract the money you need to survive, you go out of business. – Mike Chapman

You can dislike people and books without needing to publicly declare it. People do not need to be publicly punished for every statement you disagree with. Stop burning the books. Stop calling out every little thing. Stop performing virtue and purity and go out and behave like a decent human being. – Ani O’Brien

There is such power in the pages of a book. There is intrigue and excitement and bafflement, ideas and ideals that penetrate minds, even years later, even into adulthood. Books offer views of other worlds, they are windows into strangers’ souls, introducing us to characters who wear different shoes, different skins, different scars. Books are objects of art, too: their smell and their weight and their beautiful, tactile, tangible covers – Sonya Wilson

Details about the increased caring are yet to be revealed but experts predict it will be in line with the prime minister’s previous track record of looking thoughtful and sad whenever questioned about an issue in front of media, and will consist of furrowed brows, worried frowns, and empathic nodding. The furrowing, frowning and nodding, which Treasury refers to as F2N, will increase by one percentage point a year, aggregating each year to an astonishing 9% increase in Net Prime Ministerial Caring, or NPMC, by the end of the decade. –  Danyl Mclauchlan 

In her post-cabinet press conference, the prime minister would not be drawn on whether she would care passionately about child poverty but deeply about climate change, or the reverse. The adverb she would use to care about housing affordability was still being decided. “Intensely” and “strongly” are rumoured to be options and Ardern refused to rule them out, declaring, “I’m leaving every option on the table. I will choose a word ending in ly. That is my commitment to you.” – Danyl Mclauchlan 

The key to balancing tradeoffs between cooperation and parochialism lies in understanding that not all groups are created equal. Groups with voluntary memberships that allow people to be part of multiple, transient, and overlapping communities—for example, sports fans, chess clubs, or single-issue political organizations—tend to generate widespread cooperation both within and between groups because their members are also part of larger communities. . .  These types of groups allow diverse, large-scale societies to thrive by drawing people with varied beliefs, interests, opinions, and backgrounds together. These between-group connections encourage people to confront each other’s humanity and help to curtail out-group hatred. In contrast, groups that are formed around fixed, unchanging and non-overlapping identities—for example, sex, race, or ethnicity—while fostering tight bonds between their members, will tend to sow division and cultivate hatred between groups. These groups are likely to breed resentment, foment animosity, and promote tribalism.  – Robert Lynch

Nobody knows how history will unfold, but locking people into an unalterable hierarchy of suffering, pitting groups that we were born into against one another, nurturing persecution and offering up an overly simplistic interpretation of history all seem perfectly designed to prepare the field for another cataclysmic event. What will a nation enthralled by tribal identity do when a president refuses to concede regardless of the vote count? And once this process is set in motion, it might just shatter the fragile foundation on which our society rests. A politics based on membership in a particular religious, racial, or social group rather than broader groupings of people with the same political views was a dubious luxury that our species can simply no longer afford. Although E.O. Wilson originally intended “Wonderful theory, wrong species” to be a critique of Marxism, it is just as applicable to critical theory and its progeny—identity politics. – Robert Lynch

They tell us to stop flying; sell the car, ride a bike, stop eating meat, exist on mung beans and kombucha and there they are sipping carbonated water in business class, after stepping out of a taxi or Crown car at the airport.  – Ryan Bridge

For young people growing up in some of New Zealand’s most culturally diverse communities today, the nation is multicultural and looks and feels like them – less homogenous than prevailing attitudes suggest and less mono-cultural than previous generations. – Bronwyn Wood

First, we must stay true to our values. The National Party values of individual freedom and choice, personal responsibility, limited government, competitive enterprise, and equal citizenship and opportunity. They are the values I believe in. They are the values that you believe in. They are New Zealand values. They are the values that have made our country great and the values that our country needs now.Judith Collins

People will not vote for change without reason. We need to convince them to have high hopes for themselves, to believe a better New Zealand is possible, to expect more from their Government. – Judith Collins

We will expose the government’s wasteful spending and the costs it is putting on businesses, the shackles holding back innovation and entrepreneurship, the closed thinking that hinders progress across so many policy areas, the failure of imagination, the lack of ambition, and the tolerance for bland mediocrity. That mediocrity is robbing too many New Zealanders of the opportunities and choices they deserve. –  Judith Collins

In a crisis, we need to be more than a modified status quo. There are so many areas where New Zealand needs better policy. Our education system is falling backwards, rapidly. More than one-in five-children are leaving our schools without the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to succeed. Our next generation is learning less than the generation before. – Judith Collins

My fellow members, I believe National is at its best when we speak to the aspirations of New Zealanders, when we voice your hopes and give you reason to believe they can be realised. The belief that hard work should reap reward. That we can deliver our children greater opportunities than we had. That each of us has it within us to shape our own lives for the better if given the choices and responsibility to do so. That the solutions to our worst problems lie not in the hands of an ever–bigger State, but in stronger families and stronger communities. – Judith Collins

We need our leaders to lead. This is an occasion where the nature of leadership is to draw a path, to reassure people about the options that lie ahead, to create both the sense of urgent action but also the sense of a better world. This is not going to happen if people feel alienated and intimidated – they’re not going to participate actively if they don’t see the upside as well as some of the challenges we will face if we don’t move. Leadership is being prepared to stake a position, having gathered some evidence, to then coach and guide and reassure others on a journey. – Rod Carr

The science itself is open to discussion among well-informed scientists. And then the implications of that science for human activity and the impacts that policy change will have on human activity merge from science into judgment. I think we need to be very careful that the pursuit of perfect science doesn’t become the enemy of early action. – Rod Carr

In the agricultural sector, there is no or very little denial of climate change. It’s a long time since I’ve had a farmer [say] that the weather patterns which they are experiencing are similar to the patterns their parents or grandparents experienced if they’d been in the same geographic location for a century. It is warmer in parts, drier in parts, wetter in parts, windier in parts. They are obviously anxious and concerned about how they sustain a viable business if they are unable to continue practices that they are familiar with. In the agricultural sector there is a growing awareness of the need for change, but also a concern about what is the nature of the change that is needed. I think the agricultural sector is highly innovative, I don’t think they’re in denial. For my money, New Zealand should be substantially increasing its investment in agriculture research. – Rod Carr

We hear a lot about structural, aka “institutional”, racism. It falls into the same category as so-called unconscious bias, which can be defined as the bias you have when you didn’t know you had a bias. (So how do you know you have it? Because woke activists tell you. They recognise it even when you can’t.) – Karl du Fresne

New Zealand has to decide what type of place it wants to be: a diverse, harmonious, tolerant, multicultural country with a common interest in prosperity and freedom, or a splintered one in which multiple groups jostle for special treatment on the basis of real or imagined differences of ethnicity, sexual preference, culture, religion, gender or any one of the many other divisive “identities”. I think I know which society most New Zealanders would opt for. – Karl du Fresne

I still look at the fact that [after] two and a half years, traumatised children have been traumatised again by the processes of Oranga Tamariki. You’re re-traumatising all those children just so we’re ‘culturally safe’ now. Where’s the consideration of the trauma of doing that. I think that’s what’s missing from this whole picture. What will this do to those children? – Mark Solomon

Children are real live human beings, they’re not objects. They’re not parcels that we can move around. They have feelings, they have significant ties. Children’s very survival depends on their emotional connections to adults. I don’t want to be disrespectful, but it’s a simplistic belief that culture trumps all else. And so therefore it justifies the removal of these children from where they have been for two and a half years, and the movement to people who at this point in time are from a child’s perspective, strangers. – Nicola Atwool

This suggests to me (not a very original thought) that a free society can exist only where there is some cultural, and not merely a legalistic, understanding of a constitutional order: an acceptance of limits of outrage, for example, if you happen to be fortunate enough to live in a tolerably tolerant society, even when that society is not perfectly just or fair (as no society yet known to man is).

This cultural understanding is easily lost, and indeed seems to be in the process of decline in Western countries, most dangerously among the very class—the intelligentsia—in whom one might have expected or hoped it to be strongest. Our universities are becoming bastions of unfreedom, if my few young academic friends are to be believed, and we are raising up a generation of secular ayatollahs. – Theodore Dalrymple

The attempt to whittle this down to a story about bloodlines undermines the rights of that child to be themselves as a whole person. I will always advocate that the best thing for Māori is, by Māori for Māori, but if a Māori child is happy and loved; supported in their cultural identity and has access to knowledge of their whakapapa, then re-traumising them to rewrite the OT agenda is patronising; it is cynical and smacks of the state tokenising and recolonising these children. – A foster parent

As caregivers we commit to protecting the privacy of the child. We honour this – and know that if we break this trust; we put at jeopardy the secure placements the children we care for have – it is with fear that I tell the story below; but also with anger and most importantly with love. Love for the children that we try to do the best for. The children whom we know better than any social worker. That thrive and flourish in our care. The children whose lives are controlled and manipulated by OT to satisfy a process. To tick a box. I also have another story – but it cannot be told without identifying ourselves or the child and there are too many people who can be hurt by this and I do not feel I have the right to tell that story when it is not mine to tell. I started writing that story a year ago. I felt it needed to be told but I had no voice to tell it with. I think for now it needs to remain untold by me: I still do not have that voice.A foster parent

I want our voice heard. Our whānau voice and most importantly the voices of the children. I want them to be able to feel they have the right to say what they want and to have that listened to and embedded in the plan that will shape their destinies. Because whatever happens their destinies will be changed and it is not them or the people who know them best that will do the shaping. OT controls that narrative. – A foster parent

It’s important that we act now to protect vulnerable consumers from the tyranny of surveillance capitalism. As the late internet activist Aaron Swartz once wrote, “Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.”Trent Smith

It is clear that a certain privileged layer of New Zealand society has learned nothing from the recent political convulsions besetting both the United Kingdom and the United States. Spit upon the most cherished beliefs and achievements of your “deplorables” and – eventually – they will spit back. – Chris Trotter

To judge the actions of historical actors by the prevailing moral precepts of the present is not only philosophically impermissible, but it also betrays the writer’s fundamental ignorance of the history he is purporting to condemn.Chris Trotter

To apologise for one’s history is to invite those wronged by it to seek either restitution or retribution – or, maybe, both. The problem is, that what was taken by a combination of force and trickery is unlikely to be reclaimed by anything else. The children of the settlers who built “New Zealand” on the body of “Aotearoa”, understand in that special place known to all human-beings who love their homeland, that the apologies being offered by these radical journalists (who clearly despise everything “New Zealand” stands for) are a warning of deep and tragic upheavals to come. 

Some of these Pakeha will reluctantly abandon their country. Some will retreat deeper into what is still its racist heartland. And some will struggle to preserve the nation they have grown up in. A nation whose true history is one of Maori and Pakeha finding more and more to be proud of in the way each ethnicity has adapted to the presence of the other. In the course of that history many apologies have been earned, and some have been given, but not, in the end, for being caught up in historical forces too vast for blame, and too permanent for guilt. – Chris Trotter

We need to take back control of our language and of the agenda. A strong democracy is one that can conduct a civilised but serious and passionate debate about what matters to large blocks of opinion. Attempts to prevent topics and ban any view you disagree with is usually an unwelcome move to alienate significant parts of the electorate and impoverish decision taking.Sir John Redwood

Arguments about regenerative agriculture illustrate the challenges of creating informed debate. More generally, democracies depend on voters understanding complex issues. – Keith Woodford 

Mainstream media is influenced by a perceived need to present things in black and white. The emphasis is on the sensational, and controversy always helps. Keith Woodford

Muzzling opinions because they conflict with the opinions of editorial managers would be perturbing at the best of times.  Muzzling them when democratic governance arrangements are the critical matter at issue is shameful. – Point of Order

The price you pay for food in the store, and the price the farmer receives, do not reflect the real cost of producing that food — not even close. According to government statistics, 58% of a British farmer’s income is from subsidies (remarkably, that figure only drops to 46% for “very large” farms.) It doesn’t matter what kind of farmer you are, upland or lowland, arable or livestock, intensive or extensive, nature-friendly or monoculture: you can’t earn enough from commodity food prices, so your business is propped up by these payments.

It is bonkers, but it’s a global problem, because the commodity prices are set globally and farmers globally tend to be subsidised. The US has a particularly insane system that encourages terrible industrial farming and then dumps its excess stuff on world markets at beneath true cost. – James Rebanks

When I was a kid, a scrapman used to come to the farm in a white van and would occasionally buy machinery or old gates, or rolls of rusting wire for scrap money, or take it to “clean it up”. It was sometimes a useful function, because the scrap had to be got rid of, but the fella was dodgy, and my old man used to say “keep an eye on him, or we will find things missing when he’s gone”. I think I feel the same way about the Government’s plan for agriculture — it may do some good for rural England, but if I were you I’d keep an eye on it, because later on you might well notice that some valuable possessions have gone missing. – James Rebanks

These emotional attempts to suppress controversial or unpopular speech have increasingly made use of what I call the “Mourner’s Veto”—individuals will say that a speaker or a piece of writing has caused them to become distressed or sad or angry or frightened, and they will support these claims with allegations of “harm” or even threats to their “right to exist.” Reasonable debate and discussion then becomes impossible as activists make unfalsifiable but furiously emotive claims about alleged threats to their safety and wellbeing amid much weeping and claims of exhaustion and mental fragility. It is not healthy for the limits of permissible speech to be dictated by the most sensitive person in the room, nor to allow emotional appeals to supplant robust argument as the most effective strategy in a debate. – Christopher J. Ferguson

This kind of heightened emotional expressiveness can be difficult to contend with. A debate participant who dismisses the tear-streaked outbursts of an opponent can appear monstrously insensitive and callous, even if they happen to be right on the facts. On the other hand, indulging this kind of behavior only aggravates and encourages it and constitutes a surrender of reasoned argument to emotional blackmail—a lose-lose scenario for the person arguing from facts and figures. Social pressure and a desire to appear compassionate and empathetic may prevent us from challenging emotional narratives. Even requests for evidence are sometimes misconstrued as exercises in power and privilege even though they are the cornerstone of rational discourse. – Christopher J. Ferguson

Those who defend the authority of the most sensitive among us to censor the rest ought to consider what will happen when the same standard is employed by their opponents. We must work to restore clearer norms for civil debate, and diminish the power of emotional arguments. Emotions almost invariably lead to bad decisions and the sooner we recognize this in our public discourse, the sooner we’ll be able to tackle our formidable challenges with rational and empirically informed discussions about the many complex issues we face. – Christopher J. Ferguson

Such fragility is now to be expected, however, because crying at the first opportunity is the new heroism. To display one’s vulnerability to all and sundry is a manifestation of emotional authenticity, to hold anything inward a form of deceit and betrayal of the self. A cycle of competitive vulnerability is set up; the person who can withstand the least is now the strongest, and certainly the most moral. – Theodore Dalrymple

 But sentimentality comes in many forms, and one of them, nowadays the most prevalent, is the deliberate elevation of emotion over thought. This is not to say that emotion has no place in ratiocination. Indeed, it seems to me likely that thought requires some kind of emotion for it to take place at all; for, as Hume said, reason is the slave of the passions, and without a passion of even the most etiolated degree, we could hardly rouse ourselves to bother to think, or to choose to think, about one thing rather than another. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is no plumbing the shallows of the modern soul. – Theodore Dalrymple

We seem to be paying lip service to the value systems established at huge cost on battlefields throughout mankind’s recent history that emphasise equality of opportunity and representation as cornerstones of our heritage. The radicals who want to introduce a new world order are having a field day in a vacuum that is not conducive to those traditional societal standards we should be defending at every turn. There is only one way to push back and it will need to involve every free thinking person on the planet. We need to say “Enough” before it is too late.Clive Bibby

Sustainable plant-based meat is made when cattle, sheep, goats, camels, deer and pigs graze natural free-range pasture which gathers solar energy via their green-leaf solar collectors. These grazing animals harvest plant biomass without using diesel and they also spread valuable plant fertiliser onto the ground and into the air. Real meat is greener and healthier than any fake “meat” manufactured by green alchemists. – Viv Forbes

The only hope for New Zealand now is that, whatever horrifying plans that Labour has in store, Jacinda Ardern is just as hopeless at actually implementing them in her second term as she was in her first. – Gideon Rozner

No one in New Zealand appears to be willing to simply tell it as it is. They are all too frightened of being labelled racist or whatever. Thus the corruption of our society continues its slide into a socialist politically correct oblivion, from which in my view there is no escape. Trying to legislate equality is like trying to stop the tide coming in with a bucket. Rob Sintes

The gun laws passed by this Government may have sent a powerful signal that an atrocity such as the one committed by the Christchurch shooter was abhorrent to New Zealanders. And it may have tightened up some loose legislation around gun procurement. But it did not and has not made New Zealand a safer place, despite the very best of intentions.Kerre McIvor

I think there is some value in returning to blatant, all-out honesty. In my experience, life is easier when you do the right thing. When you front up. When you fix your mistakes. When you apologise for getting it wrong or when you accept the return of the product that didn’t work as you said it would. – Bruce Cotterill

The accusation of racism is an extremely serious slur – or would be, if the meaning of the word hadn’t been so weakened by overuse. . . If the accusation of racism still meant something, it would be damning. But in the 21st century the word racist simply means anyone who doesn’t conform to the authoritarian orthodoxies of identity politics. – Karl du Fresne

A newspaper is an assembly of pages on which is printed news. The preposterous apologising nonsense of the past week was not news. It was fictionSir Bob Jones

Insulting your customers has never been a smart commercial move. I say it again. Stuff is now stuffed. In one inane move they’ve reduced their one dollar purchase price for the entire fleet of newspapers to zilch. Sir Bob Jones

We need to boost productivity and improve wages across the economy, not tinker with minimum wage rises that could just as easily benefit a 16-year-old living at home (16-to-24-year-olds make up 55 per cent of all minimum wage earners) than it could a parent supporting a family. – Susan Edmunds

As illiberalism insidiously spreads, many people around the world are losing their jobs, being investigated by the police or harassed online for expressing commonly held opinions.  The most effective form of defence is silence.  – Point of Order

Criminalising “hate” might be superficially seductive, but should this amendment to the Crimes Act be passed, the repercussions will be chilling. Unlike other prohibitions, such as exceeding the speed limit, theft, and so forth, there will be no precise definition in the legislation as to what constitutes disharmonious or hateful speech, and where the threshold of criminal speech lies. Instead, it will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with the accused knowing whether they have broken the law only at the moment they are convicted – Paul Moon

Criminalising those who might insult a religion is a frightening prospect. It has the potential to stifle opinions and discussion, and increase misunderstandings about people’s faiths. Instead of honest examinations of religions, the ensuing climate of caution will merely prop up and perpetuate creedal caricatures, with only the brave or unwise few prepared to probe and challenge them.

There is something fundamentally infantile in trying to build a legislative wall around a belief system, as a means of shielding it from criticism. What if the tenets of a religion deserve ridicule or contempt? – Paul Moon

Of course, it is naive in the extreme to believe that “hate” can be mitigated by laws. Criminalising hateful views does not extinguish them. On the contrary, anyone with even a passing knowledge of history will be aware that prohibition simply drives opprobrious opinions underground, where they become transfigured, and then emerge in newly codified forms that camouflage their hate and consequently make them much harder to tackle.

The liberty to hold our own opinions, to debate them openly with others, to change our views, and to chisel out some truth from it all, is one of the great inheritances of the Enlightenment, and has been one of the most potent weapons in centuries of campaigns to achieve social justice (the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement in the United States, and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa are all examples where disharmonious speech directed at systems of belief led to millions of people’s lives being improved).

Make no mistake, there is something deeply sinister in the plans to criminalise speech according to a definition that no jurist can even define with sufficient precision. And if what’s past is prologue, the recommended changes to the Crimes Act will have a suffocating effect on the free expression of honestly held views. – Paul Moon

Our way of life is being propped up by unprecedented and unsustainable levels of monetary and fiscal stimulus; and this is no time for economic complacency. – Steven Joyce

Kicking the can down the road yet again on a transtasman bubble and other urgent issues smacks of economic and political self-satisfaction. Real people are being hurt by things as they stand, and the economic scarring in places like Auckland, Rotorua, Queenstown and Southland is also real. These people are all members of the fabled team of five million. We should be acting with urgency to resurrect their livelihoods while we have the opportunity. – Steven Joyce

But to an anti-racist all things are racist, and everything is grist to his ideological mill.Theodore Dalrymple

The reason, I suspect (though I cannot prove), is this: that in their heart of hearts, the over-promoters of the black actors and actresses believe that, unlike Indians and Chinese, blacks require administrative and political assistance to succeed, in other words that they, the over-promoters, are deeply, if subliminally, imbued with racist notions. Racism is in many places, but not always where the anti-racists perceive it. – Theodore Dalrymple

It was an opportunity to show character – a bit too much opportunity to show character in my opinion, but there we go. It’s hard. It was hard. It was physically very hard, very tiring. And it was just, it was hard.  But you know, I didn’t die.Judith Collins

“I think it’s important to understand that it’s called Leader of the Opposition for a reason that in a democracy, you do need to actually have someone who’s not just going to say, ‘Well, if the Prime Minister said it that must be right’.

“You do actually have to have people who are going to say, ‘well, hang on, let’s look at this’. But where there’s areas where we can agree, then we will agree. – Judith Collins

Politicians around the world are notorious for apportioning blame after the publication of damning reports that highlight failures of leadership under their watch as long as the number of those who might lose their jobs doesn’t include themselves.Clive Bibby

Maturity makes a big difference, but mostly it’s attitude. If you’ve got a good attitude, you’ll be right. You don’t mind persevering with someone with a good attitude. – Warren Temperton 

In Woke circles you must not use “woman” to refer to someone’s biological makeup, physical structure, or capacity to become pregnant. All that grossly mammalian business is somehow icky, beneath us. Why should we as spirits with infinite potential (or something) be defined by our toilet functions, or the oozing, smelly business of mere reproduction? Gnosticism, the ancient heresy that treated bodily existence as of the devil, and offered salvation by secret knowledge to a certain “awakened” (i.e., Woke) elite, has risen from its grave. – John Zmirak

If the capacity for real motherhood or fatherhood is not part of “gender” then what is? Lipstick, high heels, and a high-pitched voice on the one hand — and lumberjack shirts, work boots, and unashamed farts on the other? By “identifying” as some gender at odds with your genitals, are you simply indulging a stereotype? If so, must strangers honor that? Must we blow up women’s sports, strip women of privacy, and subject some to physical danger (like the fellow prisoners of a suddenly “female” rapist, or girls on a rugby field mowed down by a 6’ 3” “girl”)? – John Zmirak

But right now we seem to have come full circle, and collectivism is fashionable like never before. People hanker to be part of a group – especially those groups perceived as victimised. Grievance is earnestly sought and if the seekers can’t legitimately be part of the aggrieved group, they protest vigorously in the group’s name. Brand new groups are created and labelled, with the non-member creators then patting themselves on the back for embracing them! Unwittingly people are forced into groups of believers and deniers, enemies or allies. It’s almost comical. Almost…

Except the new collectivism is best characterised by its propensity to rapidly lash out at, denigrate and silence any party that questions. Despite their largely collective facelessness, through mass communication they are far more powerful and influential than any individual bigot. This monstrous movement changes the meaning of words and disregards facts. So detractors are left impotent.Lindsay Mitchell

Resist. Communicate with your younger ones. Encourage them to think. Oddly, encourage them to rebel. That’s the prerogative of youth. Some of their world view has justified roots, and we should listen. But many of us do have something they don’t. A lifetime’s experience of the world and its many earlier bouts of madness and mayhem. – Lindsay Mitchell

I can, at times, cross into the territory of libertarian conservatism when it comes to issues like free speech.  In other words: it is possible to hold an ideology of the right without agreeing with every aspect of any one particular school of thought.  This is a real point of difference with the left, it seems, where one is often vilified or abused for expressing criticism of – or even a differing opinion to – a belief you are expected to hold. – Monique Poirier

It’s difficult to fathom that with more than 20,000 Kiwi families currently waiting for a home the Government is prepared to spend millions stopping 480 much-needed houses from being built. – Judith Collins 

Does it make any kind of sense that scarce MIQ spaces are being taken up by people who come from places that do not have Covid-19? Why couldn’t we just admit RSE workers as usual from places without Covid, on an understanding that the gate would be shut if their Covid-status changed? Does it seem plausible that the most valuable uses of scarce spaces in MIQ is for people coming in for fruit-picking, if those workers are coming in from places where Covid is prevalent? If it were the outcome of an auction for spaces, I’d take that seriously – I could too easily be wrong! The policy simultaneously plausibly lets too many RSE workers into MIQ, and too few RSE workers into the country. It seems unlikely that the highest valued use of an MIQ space is for someone who would come in to pick fruit at $22/hour, but it also makes no sense at all that they be required to be there in the first place.Eric Crampton

I suspect, but cannot know, that the government is doing all of this deliberately, to kill the RSE programme. Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. – Eric Crampton

Every state possesses the means to keep its citizens under strict control. The democratic trick is to ensure that it receives no encouragement to use them. If governments are incited to believe the worst of their citizens, then those citizens will not be slow to live up to their masters’ expectations. Chris Trotter

The brief period of sitting this year has been atrocious, with nearly half of each Question Time spent watching Labour MPs ask themselves questions then gleefully clapping at the response like some banana republic legislature. – Thomas Coughlan

In short I think females get a comparatively rough deal, first by nature and also, if unintentionally, by cultural norms. – Sir Bob Jones

Taxpayers aren’t a bank to be called upon to clean up the Government’s poor decisions, particularly when it is meddling in private property rights. – Michael Woodhouse

Parenthood, in essence, is the relegation of one’s own interests below those of your child’s.James Borrowdale

It is not of self-censorship that I speak, however, or even of that social censorship that demands that certain verbal taboos, in the name of good manners, are not lightly broken. I mean rather the increasing hold on public expression of specific little orthodoxies that, de facto though not de jure, may not be questioned or contradicted.

There is no midnight knock on the door, at least not yet, to ensure conformity, but those who question these little orthodoxies (whose content, incidentally, changes all the time, but also extends in scope, like multiplying starfish crawling over a coral reef) are subject to such punishments as ostracism or black-listing.

I am no martyr for the truth, and have no thirst for it either. There are certain things that I believe but would never say in public. But I passionately believe in the right of other people to say them. – Theodore Dalrymple 

Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having. . . free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another  – Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Warby 

Generally, the closer to Christmas a government announces something, the more unpopular that thing probably is. It’s the old trick of slipping out bad news while voters are too distracted by present-shopping and too worn out to care. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Humanity’s recent past is pockmarked with tragedies on a scale beyond our current imagining, and they all were the result of unanticipated consequences of grand government programmes designed with noble intent; many of them less radical than that we have currently deployed.

So whilst the current prognosis looks positive I remain of the view that the risks we took were disproportionate to the evils we sought to avoid. We dodged a bullet; no question, but you will win at Russian Roulette five times out of six. This does not mean it was a good idea to spin the chamber.Damien Grant

A couple of weeks back Jacinda Ardern came out and said no one in New Zealand should have to rely on their family to buy a home, and yet she doesn’t mind people in New Zealand relying on their family to have to stay alive. You know, there’s just an inequity in what she said that’s not right. – Chris Jackson

There has never been a council mayor or chairman, born, created, or cloned, who would prefer to officially open the valve on a new sewerage scheme in preference to turning the freshly polished handle on the front door of a new council office block. Gerry Eckhoff

The election to public office is a generous choice by the public which must always be met with an equal measure of accountability by the recipient. – Gerry Eckhoff

We let them down by failing to test them for Covid. We let them down by giving them the wrong facemasks. We must not again let down the border and managed isolation workers who go to work to risk their lives every day.Dr Parmjeet Parmar

Finally, it seems more and more people are on Santa’s naughty list, waking up to the reality that biological sex cannot be changed by clothes or pronouns any more than a pair of Christmas antlers makes one a reindeer. All any of us gender heretics, ‘nasty’ feminists and free-thinkers want for Christmas is for politicians to show some common sense and to publicly state that a ‘woman is an adult human female’. – Jo Bartosch

Exactly one-in-three of all MPs in Parliament now is a newbie. That is a stunningly large proportion. They will be unruly, inexperienced, idealistic and in some cases wholly unsuited to representing themselves as legislators, let alone anyone else. – Pattrick Smellie

House price inflation is an absurd disgrace for which successive governments of the last 30 years bear responsibility and may take another 20 to fix.

Inequality is rampant, rivers are still dirty, the economy is still too heavily based on low wages and low productivity. From Ihumātao to local government reform to commissions of inquiry into terror attacks and abuse in state care, there were any number of issues that mattered this year.

But no issue mattered more than covid, and our politics have been shaped accordingly. Pattrick Smellie

The point here is not that the government should borrow endless amounts of money to throw at all of the country’s issues, nor that greater state involvement is always a good thing. Instead, I make the simple observation that politicians make up their own rules about when the state should take decisive action. If it wanted to, the government could apply the same thinking to child poverty or climate change that it did to Covid-19: early intervention and spending to avoid future catastrophe. The pandemic may be a once-in-a-lifetime aberration, but strategic policy-making doesn’t have to be. Matt Bartlett

Climate policies also have costs that often vastly outweigh their climate benefits. The Paris Agreement, if fully implemented, will cost $819–$1,890 billion per year in 2030, yet will reduce emissions by just 1% of what is needed to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Each dollar spent on Paris will likely produce climate benefits worth 11¢. – Bjorn Lomborg

The world, of course, is always divided into WE and THEY. WE are innocent, good, well-meaning, helpless victims; THEY are guilty, bad, ill-intentioned, deliberate perpetrators. How neat and satisfying it all is, how well it explains everything! – Theodore Dalrymple

We who have suffered nothing more than the inconvenience of no overseas travel and one (or two) lockdowns should give some thought this holiday season for New Zealanders who have borne a much bigger burden so we have the luxury of feeling safe.

The people whose livelihoods have been destroyed, and often their life savings too, when their industries were decimated by the border closures. Those who have lost their careers and are now in a much lower paid job or no job at all. Children who have had their education disrupted, and in some cases truncated, so they can support their families because traditional bread winners have lost their jobs.

Many have not been able to say goodbye to cherished family members, hello to new ones, or celebrate myriad other life events. Many life partners are separated either side of our national moat. To all those people we owe our thanks, support and understanding. – Steven Joyce

The international economic response is predicated on the notion that inflation is dead, and massive increases in money supply won’t revive it. It’s a big bet. If the mandarins are right we are likely headed into a period of slow growth and higher asset prices that will cause more political dislocation and risk social unrest. If they are wrong, things could get really ugly. – Steven Joyce

For my old political party there is a major rebuild to look forward to. As someone who had a part in the last such effort I can report it will involve a massive amount of hard work, and listening to the public. There are few short cuts. The principles of individual freedom, choice, free enterprise and personal responsibility will endure, as they do in democracies around the world. The challenge will be applying them successfully to the post-Covid world. – Steven Joyce

The extent to which we can give animals what they need on a farm is pretty good and may well be better than that which wild animals, and even some people, experience.Dr David Beggs 

The biodiversity able to occur with rangeland farming is so much better than that in cropping. So is it better to produce food for people from something that has prevented wildlife from existing at all or to produce an animal for eventual slaughter and raise it humanely? – Dr David Beggs 

Society has way more anxiety, we’ve basically got a pandemic of anxiety and depression amongst our teenagers, that’s a multifaceted thing but I think the loss of an at home parent in the first 1000 days of life is a big driver. – Nathan Wallis

In other words, “bleeding heart” versions of our history which push the line that everything was lovely in Aotearoa until the colonists arrived, and that they were responsible for depriving Maori of their livelihoods, are telling dubious bits of the story. Maori had killed more Maori between 1810 and 1840 than the total number of Kiwis killed in World Wars One and Two combined. And in the process, they complicated the relationships with settlers when they arrived in substantial numbers between 1840 and 1860. Yes, the wars of the 1860s did terrible damage to what remained of the Maori economy. But not as much as Maori had done to themselves before colonists had even arrived. – Michael Bassett

The thing about grief, big and small, is that it’s ordinary. We carry our losses in our bodies, they say, deep in the tissues of our hips, our shoulders, and each new loss we experience calls up all our previous losses. We can dissolve some of this grief by moving, working it out, stretching it out, talking it out, crying it out, but can’t we also roll it out on a lightly floured countertop, shape it with our hands into something small and delicate and crisp? – Jenn Shapland

It’s very early days and we have a lot to think about – but what we do know is that we want to help people in need. Our goal is to make a difference in the lives of people who really need it – and a win like this allows us to do that. – North Otago Lotto winner

In the Maori worldview there’s this saying: ko nga tahu a o tapuwai inanahi, hei tauira mo apopo, which is the footsteps you lay down in your past create the paving stones of where you stand today.

Those footsteps and that world view are always in front of me. It’s incredible to sit here today and look back and see all of those footsteps and see everyone who joined on those footsteps that made this possible. These paving stones would not exist if a number of things hadn’t happened here in Dunedin.Ian Taylor


Quotes of the month

31/12/2020

It is clear that a certain privileged layer of New Zealand society has learned nothing from the recent political convulsions besetting both the United Kingdom and the United States. Spit upon the most cherished beliefs and achievements of your “deplorables” and – eventually – they will spit back. – Chris Trotter

To judge the actions of historical actors by the prevailing moral precepts of the present is not only philosophically impermissible, but it also betrays the writer’s fundamental ignorance of the history he is purporting to condemn.Chris Trotter

To apologise for one’s history is to invite those wronged by it to seek either restitution or retribution – or, maybe, both. The problem is, that what was taken by a combination of force and trickery is unlikely to be reclaimed by anything else. The children of the settlers who built “New Zealand” on the body of “Aotearoa”, understand in that special place known to all human-beings who love their homeland, that the apologies being offered by these radical journalists (who clearly despise everything “New Zealand” stands for) are a warning of deep and tragic upheavals to come.

Some of these Pakeha will reluctantly abandon their country. Some will retreat deeper into what is still its racist heartland. And some will struggle to preserve the nation they have grown up in. A nation whose true history is one of Maori and Pakeha finding more and more to be proud of in the way each ethnicity has adapted to the presence of the other. In the course of that history many apologies have been earned, and some have been given, but not, in the end, for being caught up in historical forces too vast for blame, and too permanent for guilt. – Chris Trotter

We need to take back control of our language and of the agenda. A strong democracy is one that can conduct a civilised but serious and passionate debate about what matters to large blocks of opinion. Attempts to prevent topics and ban any view you disagree with is usually an unwelcome move to alienate significant parts of the electorate and impoverish decision taking. – Sir John Redwood

Arguments about regenerative agriculture illustrate the challenges of creating informed debate. More generally, democracies depend on voters understanding complex issues. – Keith Woodford

Mainstream media is influenced by a perceived need to present things in black and white. The emphasis is on the sensational, and controversy always helps. Keith Woodford

Muzzling opinions because they conflict with the opinions of editorial managers would be perturbing at the best of times.  Muzzling them when democratic governance arrangements are the critical matter at issue is shameful. – Point of Order

The price you pay for food in the store, and the price the farmer receives, do not reflect the real cost of producing that food — not even close. According to government statistics, 58% of a British farmer’s income is from subsidies (remarkably, that figure only drops to 46% for “very large” farms.) It doesn’t matter what kind of farmer you are, upland or lowland, arable or livestock, intensive or extensive, nature-friendly or monoculture: you can’t earn enough from commodity food prices, so your business is propped up by these payments.

It is bonkers, but it’s a global problem, because the commodity prices are set globally and farmers globally tend to be subsidised. The US has a particularly insane system that encourages terrible industrial farming and then dumps its excess stuff on world markets at beneath true cost. – James Rebanks

When I was a kid, a scrapman used to come to the farm in a white van and would occasionally buy machinery or old gates, or rolls of rusting wire for scrap money, or take it to “clean it up”. It was sometimes a useful function, because the scrap had to be got rid of, but the fella was dodgy, and my old man used to say “keep an eye on him, or we will find things missing when he’s gone”. I think I feel the same way about the Government’s plan for agriculture — it may do some good for rural England, but if I were you I’d keep an eye on it, because later on you might well notice that some valuable possessions have gone missing. – James Rebanks

These emotional attempts to suppress controversial or unpopular speech have increasingly made use of what I call the “Mourner’s Veto”—individuals will say that a speaker or a piece of writing has caused them to become distressed or sad or angry or frightened, and they will support these claims with allegations of “harm” or even threats to their “right to exist.” Reasonable debate and discussion then becomes impossible as activists make unfalsifiable but furiously emotive claims about alleged threats to their safety and wellbeing amid much weeping and claims of exhaustion and mental fragility. It is not healthy for the limits of permissible speech to be dictated by the most sensitive person in the room, nor to allow emotional appeals to supplant robust argument as the most effective strategy in a debate. – Christopher J. Ferguson

This kind of heightened emotional expressiveness can be difficult to contend with. A debate participant who dismisses the tear-streaked outbursts of an opponent can appear monstrously insensitive and callous, even if they happen to be right on the facts. On the other hand, indulging this kind of behavior only aggravates and encourages it and constitutes a surrender of reasoned argument to emotional blackmail—a lose-lose scenario for the person arguing from facts and figures. Social pressure and a desire to appear compassionate and empathetic may prevent us from challenging emotional narratives. Even requests for evidence are sometimes misconstrued as exercises in power and privilege even though they are the cornerstone of rational discourse. – Christopher J. Ferguson

Those who defend the authority of the most sensitive among us to censor the rest ought to consider what will happen when the same standard is employed by their opponents. We must work to restore clearer norms for civil debate, and diminish the power of emotional arguments. Emotions almost invariably lead to bad decisions and the sooner we recognize this in our public discourse, the sooner we’ll be able to tackle our formidable challenges with rational and empirically informed discussions about the many complex issues we face. – Christopher J. Ferguson

Such fragility is now to be expected, however, because crying at the first opportunity is the new heroism. To display one’s vulnerability to all and sundry is a manifestation of emotional authenticity, to hold anything inward a form of deceit and betrayal of the self. A cycle of competitive vulnerability is set up; the person who can withstand the least is now the strongest, and certainly the most moral. – Theodore Dalrymple

 But sentimentality comes in many forms, and one of them, nowadays the most prevalent, is the deliberate elevation of emotion over thought. This is not to say that emotion has no place in ratiocination. Indeed, it seems to me likely that thought requires some kind of emotion for it to take place at all; for, as Hume said, reason is the slave of the passions, and without a passion of even the most etiolated degree, we could hardly rouse ourselves to bother to think, or to choose to think, about one thing rather than another. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is no plumbing the shallows of the modern soul. – Theodore Dalrymple

We seem to be paying lip service to the value systems established at huge cost on battlefields throughout mankind’s recent history that emphasise equality of opportunity and representation as cornerstones of our heritage. The radicals who want to introduce a new world order are having a field day in a vacuum that is not conducive to those traditional societal standards we should be defending at every turn. There is only one way to push back and it will need to involve every free thinking person on the planet. We need to say “Enough” before it is too late.Clive Bibby

Sustainable plant-based meat is made when cattle, sheep, goats, camels, deer and pigs graze natural free-range pasture which gathers solar energy via their green-leaf solar collectors. These grazing animals harvest plant biomass without using diesel and they also spread valuable plant fertiliser onto the ground and into the air. Real meat is greener and healthier than any fake “meat” manufactured by green alchemists. – Viv Forbes

The only hope for New Zealand now is that, whatever horrifying plans that Labour has in store, Jacinda Ardern is just as hopeless at actually implementing them in her second term as she was in her first. – Gideon Rozner

No one in New Zealand appears to be willing to simply tell it as it is. They are all too frightened of being labelled racist or whatever. Thus the corruption of our society continues its slide into a socialist politically correct oblivion, from which in my view there is no escape. Trying to legislate equality is like trying to stop the tide coming in with a bucket. Rob Sintes

The gun laws passed by this Government may have sent a powerful signal that an atrocity such as the one committed by the Christchurch shooter was abhorrent to New Zealanders. And it may have tightened up some loose legislation around gun procurement. But it did not and has not made New Zealand a safer place, despite the very best of intentions.Kerre McIvor

I think there is some value in returning to blatant, all-out honesty. In my experience, life is easier when you do the right thing. When you front up. When you fix your mistakes. When you apologise for getting it wrong or when you accept the return of the product that didn’t work as you said it would. – Bruce Cotterill

The accusation of racism is an extremely serious slur – or would be, if the meaning of the word hadn’t been so weakened by overuse. . . If the accusation of racism still meant something, it would be damning. But in the 21st century the word racist simply means anyone who doesn’t conform to the authoritarian orthodoxies of identity politics. – Karl du Fresne

A newspaper is an assembly of pages on which is printed news. The preposterous apologising nonsense of the past week was not news. It was fictionSir Bob Jones

Insulting your customers has never been a smart commercial move. I say it again. Stuff is now stuffed. In one inane move they’ve reduced their one dollar purchase price for the entire fleet of newspapers to zilch. Sir Bob Jones

We need to boost productivity and improve wages across the economy, not tinker with minimum wage rises that could just as easily benefit a 16-year-old living at home (16-to-24-year-olds make up 55 per cent of all minimum wage earners) than it could a parent supporting a family. – Susan Edmunds

As illiberalism insidiously spreads, many people around the world are losing their jobs, being investigated by the police or harassed online for expressing commonly held opinions.  The most effective form of defence is silence.  – Point of Order

Criminalising “hate” might be superficially seductive, but should this amendment to the Crimes Act be passed, the repercussions will be chilling. Unlike other prohibitions, such as exceeding the speed limit, theft, and so forth, there will be no precise definition in the legislation as to what constitutes disharmonious or hateful speech, and where the threshold of criminal speech lies. Instead, it will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with the accused knowing whether they have broken the law only at the moment they are convicted – Paul Moon

Criminalising those who might insult a religion is a frightening prospect. It has the potential to stifle opinions and discussion, and increase misunderstandings about people’s faiths. Instead of honest examinations of religions, the ensuing climate of caution will merely prop up and perpetuate creedal caricatures, with only the brave or unwise few prepared to probe and challenge them.

There is something fundamentally infantile in trying to build a legislative wall around a belief system, as a means of shielding it from criticism. What if the tenets of a religion deserve ridicule or contempt? – Paul Moon

Of course, it is naive in the extreme to believe that “hate” can be mitigated by laws. Criminalising hateful views does not extinguish them. On the contrary, anyone with even a passing knowledge of history will be aware that prohibition simply drives opprobrious opinions underground, where they become transfigured, and then emerge in newly codified forms that camouflage their hate and consequently make them much harder to tackle.

The liberty to hold our own opinions, to debate them openly with others, to change our views, and to chisel out some truth from it all, is one of the great inheritances of the Enlightenment, and has been one of the most potent weapons in centuries of campaigns to achieve social justice (the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement in the United States, and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa are all examples where disharmonious speech directed at systems of belief led to millions of people’s lives being improved).

Make no mistake, there is something deeply sinister in the plans to criminalise speech according to a definition that no jurist can even define with sufficient precision. And if what’s past is prologue, the recommended changes to the Crimes Act will have a suffocating effect on the free expression of honestly held views. – Paul Moon

Our way of life is being propped up by unprecedented and unsustainable levels of monetary and fiscal stimulus; and this is no time for economic complacency. – Steven Joyce

Kicking the can down the road yet again on a transtasman bubble and other urgent issues smacks of economic and political self-satisfaction. Real people are being hurt by things as they stand, and the economic scarring in places like Auckland, Rotorua, Queenstown and Southland is also real. These people are all members of the fabled team of five million. We should be acting with urgency to resurrect their livelihoods while we have the opportunity. – Steven Joyce

But to an anti-racist all things are racist, and everything is grist to his ideological mill.Theodore Dalrymple

The reason, I suspect (though I cannot prove), is this: that in their heart of hearts, the over-promoters of the black actors and actresses believe that, unlike Indians and Chinese, blacks require administrative and political assistance to succeed, in other words that they, the over-promoters, are deeply, if subliminally, imbued with racist notions. Racism is in many places, but not always where the anti-racists perceive it. – Theodore Dalrymple

It was an opportunity to show character – a bit too much opportunity to show character in my opinion, but there we go. It’s hard. It was hard. It was physically very hard, very tiring. And it was just, it was hard.  But you know, I didn’t die.Judith Collins

“I think it’s important to understand that it’s called Leader of the Opposition for a reason that in a democracy, you do need to actually have someone who’s not just going to say, ‘Well, if the Prime Minister said it that must be right’.

“You do actually have to have people who are going to say, ‘well, hang on, let’s look at this’. But where there’s areas where we can agree, then we will agree. – Judith Collins

Politicians around the world are notorious for apportioning blame after the publication of damning reports that highlight failures of leadership under their watch as long as the number of those who might lose their jobs doesn’t include themselves.Clive Bibby

Maturity makes a big difference, but mostly it’s attitude. If you’ve got a good attitude, you’ll be right. You don’t mind persevering with someone with a good attitude. – Warren Temperton 

In Woke circles you must not use “woman” to refer to someone’s biological makeup, physical structure, or capacity to become pregnant. All that grossly mammalian business is somehow icky, beneath us. Why should we as spirits with infinite potential (or something) be defined by our toilet functions, or the oozing, smelly business of mere reproduction? Gnosticism, the ancient heresy that treated bodily existence as of the devil, and offered salvation by secret knowledge to a certain “awakened” (i.e., Woke) elite, has risen from its grave. – John Zmirak

If the capacity for real motherhood or fatherhood is not part of “gender” then what is? Lipstick, high heels, and a high-pitched voice on the one hand — and lumberjack shirts, work boots, and unashamed farts on the other? By “identifying” as some gender at odds with your genitals, are you simply indulging a stereotype? If so, must strangers honor that? Must we blow up women’s sports, strip women of privacy, and subject some to physical danger (like the fellow prisoners of a suddenly “female” rapist, or girls on a rugby field mowed down by a 6’ 3” “girl”)? – John Zmirak

But right now we seem to have come full circle, and collectivism is fashionable like never before. People hanker to be part of a group – especially those groups perceived as victimised. Grievance is earnestly sought and if the seekers can’t legitimately be part of the aggrieved group, they protest vigorously in the group’s name. Brand new groups are created and labelled, with the non-member creators then patting themselves on the back for embracing them! Unwittingly people are forced into groups of believers and deniers, enemies or allies. It’s almost comical. Almost…

Except the new collectivism is best characterised by its propensity to rapidly lash out at, denigrate and silence any party that questions. Despite their largely collective facelessness, through mass communication they are far more powerful and influential than any individual bigot. This monstrous movement changes the meaning of words and disregards facts. So detractors are left impotent.Lindsay Mitchell

Resist. Communicate with your younger ones. Encourage them to think. Oddly, encourage them to rebel. That’s the prerogative of youth. Some of their world view has justified roots, and we should listen. But many of us do have something they don’t. A lifetime’s experience of the world and its many earlier bouts of madness and mayhem. – Lindsay Mitchell

I can, at times, cross into the territory of libertarian conservatism when it comes to issues like free speech.  In other words: it is possible to hold an ideology of the right without agreeing with every aspect of any one particular school of thought.  This is a real point of difference with the left, it seems, where one is often vilified or abused for expressing criticism of – or even a differing opinion to – a belief you are expected to hold. – Monique Poirier

It’s difficult to fathom that with more than 20,000 Kiwi families currently waiting for a home the Government is prepared to spend millions stopping 480 much-needed houses from being built. – Judith Collins 

Does it make any kind of sense that scarce MIQ spaces are being taken up by people who come from places that do not have Covid-19? Why couldn’t we just admit RSE workers as usual from places without Covid, on an understanding that the gate would be shut if their Covid-status changed? Does it seem plausible that the most valuable uses of scarce spaces in MIQ is for people coming in for fruit-picking, if those workers are coming in from places where Covid is prevalent? If it were the outcome of an auction for spaces, I’d take that seriously – I could too easily be wrong! The policy simultaneously plausibly lets too many RSE workers into MIQ, and too few RSE workers into the country. It seems unlikely that the highest valued use of an MIQ space is for someone who would come in to pick fruit at $22/hour, but it also makes no sense at all that they be required to be there in the first place.Eric Crampton

I suspect, but cannot know, that the government is doing all of this deliberately, to kill the RSE programme. Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. – Eric Crampton

Every state possesses the means to keep its citizens under strict control. The democratic trick is to ensure that it receives no encouragement to use them. If governments are incited to believe the worst of their citizens, then those citizens will not be slow to live up to their masters’ expectations. Chris Trotter

The brief period of sitting this year has been atrocious, with nearly half of each Question Time spent watching Labour MPs ask themselves questions then gleefully clapping at the response like some banana republic legislature. – Thomas Coughlan

In short I think females get a comparatively rough deal, first by nature and also, if unintentionally, by cultural norms. – Sir Bob Jones

Taxpayers aren’t a bank to be called upon to clean up the Government’s poor decisions, particularly when it is meddling in private property rights. – Michael Woodhouse

Parenthood, in essence, is the relegation of one’s own interests below those of your child’s.James Borrowdale

It is not of self-censorship that I speak, however, or even of that social censorship that demands that certain verbal taboos, in the name of good manners, are not lightly broken. I mean rather the increasing hold on public expression of specific little orthodoxies that, de facto though not de jure, may not be questioned or contradicted.

There is no midnight knock on the door, at least not yet, to ensure conformity, but those who question these little orthodoxies (whose content, incidentally, changes all the time, but also extends in scope, like multiplying starfish crawling over a coral reef) are subject to such punishments as ostracism or black-listing.

I am no martyr for the truth, and have no thirst for it either. There are certain things that I believe but would never say in public. But I passionately believe in the right of other people to say them  – Theodore Dalrymple 

Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having. . . free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another  – Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Warby 

Generally, the closer to Christmas a government announces something, the more unpopular that thing probably is. It’s the old trick of slipping out bad news while voters are too distracted by present-shopping and too worn out to care. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Humanity’s recent past is pockmarked with tragedies on a scale beyond our current imagining, and they all were the result of unanticipated consequences of grand government programmes designed with noble intent; many of them less radical than that we have currently deployed.

So whilst the current prognosis looks positive I remain of the view that the risks we took were disproportionate to the evils we sought to avoid. We dodged a bullet; no question, but you will win at Russian Roulette five times out of six. This does not mean it was a good idea to spin the chamber.Damien Grant

A couple of weeks back Jacinda Ardern came out and said no one in New Zealand should have to rely on their family to buy a home, and yet she doesn’t mind people in New Zealand relying on their family to have to stay alive. You know, there’s just an inequity in what she said that’s not right. – Chris Jackson

There has never been a council mayor or chairman, born, created, or cloned, who would prefer to officially open the valve on a new sewerage scheme in preference to turning the freshly polished handle on the front door of a new council office block. Gerry Eckhoff

The election to public office is a generous choice by the public which must always be met with an equal measure of accountability by the recipient. – Gerry Eckhoff

We let them down by failing to test them for Covid. We let them down by giving them the wrong facemasks. We must not again let down the border and managed isolation workers who go to work to risk their lives every day.Dr Parmjeet Parmar

Finally, it seems more and more people are on Santa’s naughty list, waking up to the reality that biological sex cannot be changed by clothes or pronouns any more than a pair of Christmas antlers makes one a reindeer. All any of us gender heretics, ‘nasty’ feminists and free-thinkers want for Christmas is for politicians to show some common sense and to publicly state that a ‘woman is an adult human female’. – Jo Bartosch

Exactly one-in-three of all MPs in Parliament now is a newbie. That is a stunningly large proportion. They will be unruly, inexperienced, idealistic and in some cases wholly unsuited to representing themselves as legislators, let alone anyone else. – Pattrick Smellie

House price inflation is an absurd disgrace for which successive governments of the last 30 years bear responsibility and may take another 20 to fix.

Inequality is rampant, rivers are still dirty, the economy is still too heavily based on low wages and low productivity. From Ihumātao to local government reform to commissions of inquiry into terror attacks and abuse in state care, there were any number of issues that mattered this year.

But no issue mattered more than covid, and our politics have been shaped accordingly. Pattrick Smellie

The point here is not that the government should borrow endless amounts of money to throw at all of the country’s issues, nor that greater state involvement is always a good thing. Instead, I make the simple observation that politicians make up their own rules about when the state should take decisive action. If it wanted to, the government could apply the same thinking to child poverty or climate change that it did to Covid-19: early intervention and spending to avoid future catastrophe. The pandemic may be a once-in-a-lifetime aberration, but strategic policy-making doesn’t have to be. Matt Bartlett

Climate policies also have costs that often vastly outweigh their climate benefits. The Paris Agreement, if fully implemented, will cost $819–$1,890 billion per year in 2030, yet will reduce emissions by just 1% of what is needed to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Each dollar spent on Paris will likely produce climate benefits worth 11¢. – Bjorn Lomborg

The world, of course, is always divided into WE and THEY. WE are innocent, good, well-meaning, helpless victims; THEY are guilty, bad, ill-intentioned, deliberate perpetrators. How neat and satisfying it all is, how well it explains everything! – Theodore Dalrymple

We who have suffered nothing more than the inconvenience of no overseas travel and one (or two) lockdowns should give some thought this holiday season for New Zealanders who have borne a much bigger burden so we have the luxury of feeling safe.

The people whose livelihoods have been destroyed, and often their life savings too, when their industries were decimated by the border closures. Those who have lost their careers and are now in a much lower paid job or no job at all. Children who have had their education disrupted, and in some cases truncated, so they can support their families because traditional bread winners have lost their jobs.

Many have not been able to say goodbye to cherished family members, hello to new ones, or celebrate myriad other life events. Many life partners are separated either side of our national moat. To all those people we owe our thanks, support and understanding. – Steven Joyce

The international economic response is predicated on the notion that inflation is dead, and massive increases in money supply won’t revive it. It’s a big bet. If the mandarins are right we are likely headed into a period of slow growth and higher asset prices that will cause more political dislocation and risk social unrest. If they are wrong, things could get really ugly. – Steven Joyce

For my old political party there is a major rebuild to look forward to. As someone who had a part in the last such effort I can report it will involve a massive amount of hard work, and listening to the public. There are few short cuts. The principles of individual freedom, choice, free enterprise and personal responsibility will endure, as they do in democracies around the world. The challenge will be applying them successfully to the post-Covid world. – Steven Joyce

The extent to which we can give animals what they need on a farm is pretty good and may well be better than that which wild animals, and even some people, experience.Dr David Beggs

The biodiversity able to occur with rangeland farming is so much better than that in cropping. So is it better to produce food for people from something that has prevented wildlife from existing at all or to produce an animal for eventual slaughter and raise it humanely? – Dr David Beggs

Society has way more anxiety, we’ve basically got a pandemic of anxiety and depression amongst our teenagers, that’s a multifaceted thing but I think the loss of an at home parent in the first 1000 days of life is a big driver. – Nathan Wallis

In other words, “bleeding heart” versions of our history which push the line that everything was lovely in Aotearoa until the colonists arrived, and that they were responsible for depriving Maori of their livelihoods, are telling dubious bits of the story. Maori had killed more Maori between 1810 and 1840 than the total number of Kiwis killed in World Wars One and Two combined. And in the process, they complicated the relationships with settlers when they arrived in substantial numbers between 1840 and 1860. Yes, the wars of the 1860s did terrible damage to what remained of the Maori economy. But not as much as Maori had done to themselves before colonists had even arrived. – Michael Bassett

The thing about grief, big and small, is that it’s ordinary. We carry our losses in our bodies, they say, deep in the tissues of our hips, our shoulders, and each new loss we experience calls up all our previous losses. We can dissolve some of this grief by moving, working it out, stretching it out, talking it out, crying it out, but can’t we also roll it out on a lightly floured countertop, shape it with our hands into something small and delicate and crisp? – Jenn Shapland

It’s very early days and we have a lot to think about – but what we do know is that we want to help people in need. Our goal is to make a difference in the lives of people who really need it – and a win like this allows us to do that. – North Otago Lotto winner

In the Maori worldview there’s this saying: ko nga tahu a o tapuwai inanahi, hei tauira mo apopo, which is the footsteps you lay down in your past create the paving stones of where you stand today.

Those footsteps and that world view are always in front of me. It’s incredible to sit here today and look back and see all of those footsteps and see everyone who joined on those footsteps that made this possible. These paving stones would not exist if a number of things hadn’t happened here in Dunedin. – Ian Taylor


Quotes of the month

01/12/2020

Labour and the Greens have always wanted state funding of political parties, but they need to be careful of putting narrow political interest ahead of public interest. . . Major changes to our electoral law need to have broad public support, Labour and the Greens need to remember that.- Nick Smith

The extreme abnormality of his behavior faded into simply Trump being Trump. He developed immunity to condemnation by way of lowered expectations. – James Hamblin

Whatever the result of the election, it’s always best to accept that and do so with good grace. Just as it is when someone wins an election, to act in the best interests of their country, and to show good grace in that too. – Judith Collins

The truth is that Trump himself is not America’s problem: he is a symptom of that nation’s problems. –Sir John Key

The challenge for the next President – whoever it is – is to get America’s mojo back, to reduce inequality and to harness the promise of the American dream. The challenge is that instead of trying to go it alone, the next US President again wears the mantle of the leader of the free world not as a burden to be shunned, but as a badge of honour to be celebrated. – Sir John Key

In like fashion, the word nostalgia, the melancholic or bittersweet looking back on the irrecoverable past, is nowadays wielded as a rhetorical weapon, as if the past were nothing but a chamber of horrors in a waxworks museum. Whoever is accused of nostalgia is a person of weak mind and probably of ill-will. The past is another country, where they do everything worse than we do now; we have nothing to learn from it, at least nothing of positive value, and we have only lessons to give it, tut-tutting at its deviation from our present state of complete and final enlightenment.

The fact that today is tomorrow’s past, and that if we teach no respect for history (except for those figures who were direct intellectual forerunners of ourselves), we too shall soon be consigned to that capacious repository, the dustbin of history, does not occur to those who reprehend both conservatism and nostalgia. But surely a person who has reached a certain age without feeling nostalgia has lived a very unfortunate, indeed a wretched, life. – Theodore Dalrymple 

By applying a single rate on the incomes of all taxpayers, the flat tax requires that voters impose a proportional tax increase on themselves while seeking to raise revenue from their high-income neighbors. Such a move, of course, proves less attractive. To be sure, the unlimited ability of the state to enact various transfer programs partially undermines the effectiveness of the flat tax. But progressives want to remove the constraint imposed by the flat tax because they know that people are less willing to raise taxes on others when they have to raise them on themselves. – Richard Epstein

Tolerance is one of those many qualities, such as bravery or originality, that in itself is neither good nor bad, but whose worth depends upon many other considerations. A precondition of tolerance, of course, is disapproval, for there is no need to exercise tolerance of what we approve of or are indifferent to. We can all tolerate what we approve of; it is in the exercise of control over the expression, verbal or in action, of our disapproval that tolerance lies. Such control may shade into stupidity or pusillanimity if it leads to tolerance of what ought not be tolerated; we call intolerant those people who do not accept what they ought to accept. Often our designation reveals as much about us as it reveals about them.Theodore Dalrymple

As to equality of opportunity, no more horrible concept could be imagined, not only because a total absence of opportunity would be compatible with it, but because, even to try seriously to achieve it, official interference would have to be so great that it would make North Korea look like a libertarian paradise. A society can offer opportunity to almost everyone, but not equality of opportunity, and to aim at the impossible is often to miss the possible. Theodore Dalrymple

I know that deep black hole that opens up in the middle of your chest and makes you feel like you’re being sucked into it. I know how mean, cruel, and unfair life can be sometimes… but I found the best way through pain, and loss and grief is to find purpose. – Joe Biden

I’m more worried about the tendency of progressive social movements to value their differences above their common goals or to seek economic advantage without working for a more sustainable economic system.  – Christopher Tremewan

At every funeral I’ve ever been to, necessary catharsis is often found in what my Irish-Catholic, rugby-loving family describe as the ‘after match’. Most cultures have evolved practices that, through the breaking of bread and the sharing of stories, pull us out of our isolation and individual grief and back into the collective experience of farewelling a loved one. It provides a kind of temporary, full stop to the profound intensity of loss. Irreverence counters reverence, jokes replace solemnity and food nourishes both body and soul. These communal experiences ground us, reminding us of the legacy of love left behind by the person we have said goodbye to. They exist not as frivolous excuses for a hooley but as a necessary part of moving us through to the next stage. –  Anna Rawhiti-Connell

When equality means equal outcomes, it removes individual effort and requires chopping everyone down to the same level. – Oliver Hartwich

When a society forgets what excellence is, it worships mediocrity. And the only way to notice the misstep is to look at other countries and compare. – Oliver Hartwich

Kiwis have mothballed their ambition. We have forgotten about growing the pie so we can share it. We have given up on excellence in favour of wellbeing, kindness and not rocking the boat. I am convinced this country can do better. But to achieve excellence, we must demand it. From our councils, our national politicians, our schools, our businesses – and, crucially, from ourselves. – Oliver Hartwich

The next question many people ask is what’s the difference between a median house price and an average house price? That’s a very good question which can be answered like this – the median house price is the price of just one house that you cannot afford to buy, whereas the average house price is the price of many houses that you cannot afford to buy.   – James Elliott

New Zealand is a victim of its own success. The low visibility of Covid-19 here means people are less likely to wear masks, scan QR codes, use hand sanitiser, get tested and stay home when sick. We’re stuck in something of a paradox – the better we handle Covid-19, the more our response is jeopardised in the future. – Marc Daalder

When considering whether life is getting better or worse, we need to remember to do the maths. The numbers show it’s not all bad news, and most of it is good news. Just because something is bad today doesn’t mean it was better in the past. We have reason be sceptical, but many more reasons to be optimistic, and especially to be grateful. – Andrew Taberner

I can see a guy hitting the face of one of my men. I’m playing for my country. That’s not respect. – Pablo Matera

Everything is hard in Argentina. At the moment it is one of the toughest times in our country. We wanted to show our people when you fight and work hard you get what you fight for. Pablo Matera

MPs who are bitter, angry or disappointed need to suck it up and move on. Dwelling on the past few months will do nothing to win the election in 2023. The only way forward is through positivity.   – Monique Poirier

The simple fact is that under current policy settings, micro-economic policies that attempt to artificially boost incomes beyond what businesses and the economy can afford will simply end up driving a bigger wedge between the haves and the have nots in terms of asset prices and wealth, through the mechanism of ever lower interest rates. We are chasing our tails. – Steven Joyce

Our system – and worldwide it is the case – eliminates mavericks. How high does your tolerance for boredom need to be before you are willing to sit in Parliament under Trevor Mallard? How patient (or ambivalent to results) do you need to be to hold a Ministry and work with State sector leaders (all of whom seem to have grey as their favourite colour)? – Alwyn Poole

It’s accepting that while nobody can reasonably demand perfection, these leakages are too often and too many. It’s simply asking that those tasked with designing and overseeing the systems that keep us safe do so to the level whereby they will own any and all failures. Until that time, these cases will continue. There will be spiralling consequences radiating out from the incident and affecting huge numbers of people in and out of New Zealand, and eventually one – maybe this one, maybe the next – will spread further, and kill someone.Duncan Grieve

The word austerity is already disingenuous, to put it no stronger. The word in this context means the attempt to align government expenditure a little more closely with government income. It certainly does not mean hair shirts and monastic silence in unheated stone-walled rooms. – Theodore Dalrymple

It seemed to me that rather than be overwhelmed by times that try men’s souls, we can still dream of making a better world; that small happinesses, and committed kindnesses, and goodwill to all men can be the yeast that quietly help us all to rise above fear, judgement, grief, and anger, or despair, doubt and despondency during this turn of the wheel. These small happinesses bring us back to the present moment, and anchor us in the goodness of the world. – Valerie Davies

If you do not get enough money to run your business, you haven’t got a business. If you can’t extract the money you need to survive, you go out of business. – Mike Chapman

You can dislike people and books without needing to publicly declare it. People do not need to be publicly punished for every statement you disagree with. Stop burning the books. Stop calling out every little thing. Stop performing virtue and purity and go out and behave like a decent human being. – Ani O’Brien

There is such power in the pages of a book. There is intrigue and excitement and bafflement, ideas and ideals that penetrate minds, even years later, even into adulthood. Books offer views of other worlds, they are windows into strangers’ souls, introducing us to characters who wear different shoes, different skins, different scars. Books are objects of art, too: their smell and their weight and their beautiful, tactile, tangible covers – Sonya Wilson

Details about the increased caring are yet to be revealed but experts predict it will be in line with the prime minister’s previous track record of looking thoughtful and sad whenever questioned about an issue in front of media, and will consist of furrowed brows, worried frowns, and empathic nodding. The furrowing, frowning and nodding, which Treasury refers to as F2N, will increase by one percentage point a year, aggregating each year to an astonishing 9% increase in Net Prime Ministerial Caring, or NPMC, by the end of the decade. –  Danyl Mclauchlan

In her post-cabinet press conference, the prime minister would not be drawn on whether she would care passionately about child poverty but deeply about climate change, or the reverse. The adverb she would use to care about housing affordability was still being decided. “Intensely” and “strongly” are rumoured to be options and Ardern refused to rule them out, declaring, “I’m leaving every option on the table. I will choose a word ending in ly. That is my commitment to you.” – Danyl Mclauchlan

The key to balancing tradeoffs between cooperation and parochialism lies in understanding that not all groups are created equal. Groups with voluntary memberships that allow people to be part of multiple, transient, and overlapping communities—for example, sports fans, chess clubs, or single-issue political organizations—tend to generate widespread cooperation both within and between groups because their members are also part of larger communities. . .  These types of groups allow diverse, large-scale societies to thrive by drawing people with varied beliefs, interests, opinions, and backgrounds together. These between-group connections encourage people to confront each other’s humanity and help to curtail out-group hatred. In contrast, groups that are formed around fixed, unchanging and non-overlapping identities—for example, sex, race, or ethnicity—while fostering tight bonds between their members, will tend to sow division and cultivate hatred between groups. These groups are likely to breed resentment, foment animosity, and promote tribalism.  – Robert Lynch

Nobody knows how history will unfold, but locking people into an unalterable hierarchy of suffering, pitting groups that we were born into against one another, nurturing persecution and offering up an overly simplistic interpretation of history all seem perfectly designed to prepare the field for another cataclysmic event. What will a nation enthralled by tribal identity do when a president refuses to concede regardless of the vote count? And once this process is set in motion, it might just shatter the fragile foundation on which our society rests. A politics based on membership in a particular religious, racial, or social group rather than broader groupings of people with the same political views was a dubious luxury that our species can simply no longer afford. Although E.O. Wilson originally intended “Wonderful theory, wrong species” to be a critique of Marxism, it is just as applicable to critical theory and its progeny—identity politics. – Robert Lynch

They tell us to stop flying; sell the car, ride a bike, stop eating meat, exist on mung beans and kombucha and there they are sipping carbonated water in business class, after stepping out of a taxi or Crown car at the airport.  – Ryan Bridge

For young people growing up in some of New Zealand’s most culturally diverse communities today, the nation is multicultural and looks and feels like them – less homogenous than prevailing attitudes suggest and less mono-cultural than previous generations. – Bronwyn Wood

First, we must stay true to our values. The National Party values of individual freedom and choice, personal responsibility, limited government, competitive enterprise, and equal citizenship and opportunity. They are the values I believe in. They are the values that you believe in. They are New Zealand values. They are the values that have made our country great and the values that our country needs now.Judith Collins

People will not vote for change without reason. We need to convince them to have high hopes for themselves, to believe a better New Zealand is possible, to expect more from their Government. – Judith Collins

We will expose the government’s wasteful spending and the costs it is putting on businesses, the shackles holding back innovation and entrepreneurship, the closed thinking that hinders progress across so many policy areas, the failure of imagination, the lack of ambition, and the tolerance for bland mediocrity. That mediocrity is robbing too many New Zealanders of the opportunities and choices they deserve. –  Judith Collins

In a crisis, we need to be more than a modified status quo. There are so many areas where New Zealand needs better policy. Our education system is falling backwards, rapidly. More than one-in five-children are leaving our schools without the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to succeed. Our next generation is learning less than the generation before. – Judith Collins

My fellow members, I believe National is at its best when we speak to the aspirations of New Zealanders, when we voice your hopes and give you reason to believe they can be realised. The belief that hard work should reap reward. That we can deliver our children greater opportunities than we had. That each of us has it within us to shape our own lives for the better if given the choices and responsibility to do so. That the solutions to our worst problems lie not in the hands of an ever–bigger State, but in stronger families and stronger communities. – Judith Collins

We need our leaders to lead. This is an occasion where the nature of leadership is to draw a path, to reassure people about the options that lie ahead, to create both the sense of urgent action but also the sense of a better world. This is not going to happen if people feel alienated and intimidated – they’re not going to participate actively if they don’t see the upside as well as some of the challenges we will face if we don’t move. Leadership is being prepared to stake a position, having gathered some evidence, to then coach and guide and reassure others on a journey. – Rod Carr

The science itself is open to discussion among well-informed scientists. And then the implications of that science for human activity and the impacts that policy change will have on human activity merge from science into judgment. I think we need to be very careful that the pursuit of perfect science doesn’t become the enemy of early action. – Rod Carr

In the agricultural sector, there is no or very little denial of climate change. It’s a long time since I’ve had a farmer [say] that the weather patterns which they are experiencing are similar to the patterns their parents or grandparents experienced if they’d been in the same geographic location for a century. It is warmer in parts, drier in parts, wetter in parts, windier in parts. They are obviously anxious and concerned about how they sustain a viable business if they are unable to continue practices that they are familiar with. In the agricultural sector there is a growing awareness of the need for change, but also a concern about what is the nature of the change that is needed. I think the agricultural sector is highly innovative, I don’t think they’re in denial. For my money, New Zealand should be substantially increasing its investment in agriculture research. – Rod Carr

We hear a lot about structural, aka “institutional”, racism. It falls into the same category as so-called unconscious bias, which can be defined as the bias you have when you didn’t know you had a bias. (So how do you know you have it? Because woke activists tell you. They recognise it even when you can’t.) – Karl du Fresne

New Zealand has to decide what type of place it wants to be: a diverse, harmonious, tolerant, multicultural country with a common interest in prosperity and freedom, or a splintered one in which multiple groups jostle for special treatment on the basis of real or imagined differences of ethnicity, sexual preference, culture, religion, gender or any one of the many other divisive “identities”. I think I know which society most New Zealanders would opt for. – Karl du Fresne

I still look at the fact that [after] two and a half years, traumatised children have been traumatised again by the processes of Oranga Tamariki. You’re re-traumatising all those children just so we’re ‘culturally safe’ now. Where’s the consideration of the trauma of doing that. I think that’s what’s missing from this whole picture. What will this do to those children? – Mark Solomon

Children are real live human beings, they’re not objects. They’re not parcels that we can move around. They have feelings, they have significant ties. Children’s very survival depends on their emotional connections to adults. I don’t want to be disrespectful, but it’s a simplistic belief that culture trumps all else. And so therefore it justifies the removal of these children from where they have been for two and a half years, and the movement to people who at this point in time are from a child’s perspective, strangers. – Nicola Atwool

This suggests to me (not a very original thought) that a free society can exist only where there is some cultural, and not merely a legalistic, understanding of a constitutional order: an acceptance of limits of outrage, for example, if you happen to be fortunate enough to live in a tolerably tolerant society, even when that society is not perfectly just or fair (as no society yet known to man is).

This cultural understanding is easily lost, and indeed seems to be in the process of decline in Western countries, most dangerously among the very class—the intelligentsia—in whom one might have expected or hoped it to be strongest. Our universities are becoming bastions of unfreedom, if my few young academic friends are to be believed, and we are raising up a generation of secular ayatollahs. – Theodore Dalrymple

The attempt to whittle this down to a story about bloodlines undermines the rights of that child to be themselves as a whole person. I will always advocate that the best thing for Māori is, by Māori for Māori, but if a Māori child is happy and loved; supported in their cultural identity and has access to knowledge of their whakapapa, then re-traumising them to rewrite the OT agenda is patronising; it is cynical and smacks of the state tokenising and recolonising these children.  A foster parent

As caregivers we commit to protecting the privacy of the child. We honour this – and know that if we break this trust; we put at jeopardy the secure placements the children we care for have – it is with fear that I tell the story below; but also with anger and most importantly with love. Love for the children that we try to do the best for. The children whom we know better than any social worker. That thrive and flourish in our care. The children whose lives are controlled and manipulated by OT to satisfy a process. To tick a box. I also have another story – but it cannot be told without identifying ourselves or the child and there are too many people who can be hurt by this and I do not feel I have the right to tell that story when it is not mine to tell. I started writing that story a year ago. I felt it needed to be told but I had no voice to tell it with. I think for now it needs to remain untold by me: I still do not have that voice.A foster parent

I want our voice heard. Our whānau voice and most importantly the voices of the children. I want them to be able to feel they have the right to say what they want and to have that listened to and embedded in the plan that will shape their destinies. Because whatever happens their destinies will be changed and it is not them or the people who know them best that will do the shaping. OT controls that narrative. – A foster parent

It’s important that we act now to protect vulnerable consumers from the tyranny of surveillance capitalism. As the late internet activist Aaron Swartz once wrote, “Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.”Trent Smith


Money supply fuelling house prices

16/11/2020

Friends on Waiheke Island took us to visit friends of theirs who were selling their house on a 900 square metre section.

The asking price was $500,000.

“How many stock units could you run on the lawn?” my farmer asked, knowing at the time we were buying a neighbour’s farm of about 120 hectares with a house and wool shed for less than that.

Town and country property prices have gone up a lot in the two decades since then. House prices increased nearly 20% in the last year.

The steep climb is largely a function of supply and demand. There are far fewer houses for sale than there are buyers in the market.

Immigration has plummeted so we can’t blame that.

We can point some of the blame at the national lockdown in March and the more recent Auckland one that put a dampener on new builds, adding to the delays and costs caused by the RMA and building regulations.

But David Law at the New Zealand initiative says loose monetary policy is the bigger culprit.

. . . The Reserve Bank is undertaking a $100 billon programme of quantitative easing. The Official Cash Rate (OCR) is also now at a record low, reduced from 1% to 0.25% in March. These two decisions alone will lift returns on investment in housing and increase pressure on house prices, particularly as supply is constrained.

If the Government cares about fixing housing affordability, it should start by being clear on the reasons for those high prices.

Former Finance Minister Steven Joyce is also concerned about housing for the haves and no relief for the have nots:

. . . People can afford the repayments on a bigger mortgage so they bid up the sticker price on the house, while others look for any sort of asset yield that’s bigger than the derisory amounts available from bank deposits.

There is now much more recognition that ultra-low interest rates are driving high asset prices including house prices, but so far much less will to do anything about it. . . 

The Prime Minister has shown concern and said prices can’t keep going up at the rate they have been but her concern hasn’t translated into any practical solution to the problem/

Covid-19 is the big driver of the current economic recession, but the government’s policy response isn’t helping.

By continuing to invoke lockdowns at the drop of a hat, mandating big minimum wage and public sector pay increases, pursuing the adoption of the so-called living wage, increasing holiday pay and pushing myriad other anti-employment measures, there is no doubt that the economy will respond with more sluggish employment growth than would otherwise be the case.

In turn monetary policy has more work to do to maintain progress towards the full employment goal. Say hello to even lower interest rates for longer; and ever more nonsensical asset prices, especially houses.

It is a big irony that government policies that often seek to boost the fortunes of the low paid end up helping to trap them in a hand to mouth existence, with no way to break the cycle and get on the home ownership ladder. . . 

Worse, higher house prices lead to higher rents which makes it harder for low income renters to make ends meet and for higher income renters to save for a deposit to buy a home.

The simple fact is that under current policy settings, micro-economic policies that attempt to artificially boost incomes beyond what businesses and the economy can afford will simply end up driving a bigger wedge between the haves and the have nots in terms of asset prices and wealth, through the mechanism of ever lower interest rates. We are chasing our tails.

Anything which increases the supply of money and lowers the cost of borrowing without increasing the supply of houses will drive up prices.

The Reserve Bank is trying to stimulate the economy by encouraging businesses to invest and expand but government-mandated increase in wages and sick leave have the opposite affect.

And any positive impact from the lower OCR is more than outweighed by the inflationary pressure low interest rates are putting on house prices.

The house we looked at on Waiheke Island would be selling for far more than $500,000 now. The farm we bought has increased in value too but it’s a productive asset supporting jobs and earning export income.

A house provides a home but it produces nothing and the rampant price increases of owning one is producing misery.


Quotes of the month

31/10/2020

Late last year the National Farmers Federation set the laudable goal of increasing the value of farm production from about $60bn a year to $100bn a year by 2030. Good luck. The regulators and their enforcers have other ideas. Their intention is to limit the expansion of farming and, if possible, force it into retreat, turning farmers from food producers into unpaid stewards of native trees and grasses. – Nick Cater

From coronavirus to saving threatened species, absolutism, risk aversion and an absence of proportion are hallmarks of contemporary public policy. . . Ad hoc decisions are made in favour of assumed benefits without reference to the cost to farmers, farm output, export earnings or the cost of food. Nick Cater

God deliver us from the hands of zealots. They exist in different guises in every age, lay claim to being the era’s moral guardians and demand no more than complete obedience to their ordained order. They only burn heretics in sorrow, for their own good and that of society. . . .Now the bureaucratic state dictates morality and the devil is discrimination, in all his endlessly evolving forms. The crime is giving any perceived offence. The weapon is the law. – Chris Uhlmann

The truth is, if I do have sad eyes it’s because I live in a world where people with very superficial analysis are constantly impinging on each other with higher taxes and more regulations than would otherwise be necessary. – David Seymour

A vote for NZ First has always been a vote for disruption, chaos and a nihilistic anarchy to disrupt the status quo without any vision about what to put in its place. – Damien Grant

One of the best ways to tell a lie is to embed it in the midst of high-sounding verbiage. This is so common a method that one is sometimes unsure whether a lie is being told or an untruth merely enunciated.Theodore Dalrymple

Many people can say fine words. That’s easy, but who can understand the detail and the workflow that can actually deliver it for you? – Shane Reti

We are creating our own hurdles at a rate higher than any other primary producer in the world. For every dollar spent on food worldwide, the farmer receives on average, less than 10 cents.Jane Smith

This is not Monopoly money, it’s money that our kids and grandkids will have to pay back. – Judith Collins

Despite the Tramadol the pain is getting worse. Comes and goes but spikes at probably an 8.5/10 on the pain scale. Now to be fair that is the male pain scale, so probably just a 2.5 on the female pain scale, but nevertheless was enough for me to be actually yelling out loud. –  David Farrar

Age may be an imperfect proxy for maturity or competence; there will always be precocious children above, and incompetent adults below, the line wherever it is drawn.- Justice Jan-Marie Doogue 

Whatever this is, it’s not journalism as I understand it. It’s a continuation of a long-standing trend whereby journalists see themselves not as mere observers and reporters of the political process, but as active players and agitators. – Karl du Fresne

Onslow would save an average of 300,000 tonnes of CO2 per year at a cost of at least $1300/tonne. The current CO2 price is $32. Keeping the aluminium smelter in operation could save 2,500,000 tons of worldwide emissions each year at a cost of about $100 million or $40/tonne and has the potential to significantly minimise the dry year problem. – Bryan Leyland

There is a pit of doom major parties in New Zealand can fall into, when their soft centre supporters abandon them for their centrist opponent and another cohort of voters on the fringe deserts them for a more radical and exciting minor party. This happened to National in 2002, and to Labour in 2014, and Judith Collins has spent her three months as National leader grimly hanging onto the edge of this pit, trying to claw her way out while Jacinda Ardern stamps on her fingers and kicks at her hands, all the time smiling beatifically while reminding the rest of us to be kind.Danyl Mclauchlan

Ardern has learned from her first term in government that if she promises anything substantive her caucus and the public service will fail to deliver it, so best to promise nothing. – Danyl Mclauchlan

When politicians call for reform of the tax system, they are really saying there needs to be more taxation in order to meet their expenditure. The perpetually aggrieved present an implausible argument that is deficient in equity and logic, which is – the more you distribute other people’s income, the wealthier the nation becomes.   –  Gerry Eckhoff

This year has illustrated for me that we are not a nation of dissenters, we are a nation of conformists. Margaret Thatcher once said that “when people have freedom to choose, they choose freedom”. Well, apparently not in New Zealand. Like so many other years in our history, 2020 is yet another year of compliance and conformity, and deference by individual New Zealanders to the power of the state. Even motorway road-signs ordering us to be kind don’t seem to arouse any concerns among the trusting, dependent New Zealand public. I have come to realise that those of us in whom those signs aroused Orwellian visions of the future are a very small minority indeed. – Chris Finlayson

We are trying to live a five star lifestyle on a two star income.   We spend like a fat cat and earn like an alley cat.  We want the cake with all the trimmings but we can barely afford the flour and sugar. – Owen Jennings

We are becoming a nation of low performing advisors.  Politicians from central Government to community boards cannot make decisions any more.  They don’t have the gumption or the training and they don’t have the guts to deliver. They hide behind faceless consultants and toothless committees.  Costs go up and productivity goes down. – Owen Jennings

Suddenly, the issues on which her government had previously been struggling to the point where election defeat looked more likely than not were totally forgotten. Two errant Ministers were got rid of, and, with the exception of a couple of overworked loyalists, the largely incompetent remainder were quickly put in the broom cupboard, until after the election.Peter Dunne

Democratic values are under attack as never before in modern history. The breadth, intensity and viciousness of this attack is breathtaking. Where it will lead is impossible to say. That will largely depend on whether society recognises what’s at stake and has the will to dig in and resist it. – Karl du Fresne

Having realised decades ago that that the fight between capitalism and classical Marxist economics was lost, the extreme left opened a new front. They attacked liberal democracy’s soft underbelly: its values, conventions, institutions and philosophical foundations.Suddenly a whole range of bedrock values, from the right to free speech to belief in fixed biological gender, was under savage attack. The underlying purpose is to destabilise society and therefore render it amenable to radical change. – Karl du Fresne

Some woke ideas (most notably the belief that sexual identity is a mere societal construct, “assigned at birth” as if by some conscious and arbitrary human intervention) strike most New Zealanders as demonstrably barking mad, but that hasn’t stopped them being  embraced by radical zealots and championed by sympathetic polemicists in the news media. – Karl du Fresne

We hear a lot from such groups about the need to embrace diversity, but the one diversity they don’t tolerate is diversity of opinion. Yet free speech is the currency of liberal democracy. Once we accept curbs on our right to engage in free and robust discussion of contentious issues (but stopping short of advocating active discrimination or incitements to violence, which present law rightly prohibits anyway), we risk becoming what might be called an illiberal democracy: one in which we may still be free to vote for the politicians of our choice, but without our votes being informed by full and open debate. Putin-style democracy, in other words. – Karl du Fresne

I never vote early. If your candidate is arrested you cannot get your vote back. – Richard Prebble

History has shown that government-led recoveries don’t work. Regeneration has to be driven by business growth, not 50 shades of tax. You cannot tax your country into wealth. Urban New Zealand, when regulators are determined to drive your farming, energy and manufacturing sectors into the ground – we all pay the price. –  Jane Smith

Under the cover of Covid, I believe fear has overtaken free thinking, and we have forgotten that elections are not about the here and now – they are about deciding which pathway we take to protect future generations. –  Jane Smith

Electioneering is short, consequences are long. Our leaders should be running a country, not an arms race. How can we promise $11.7 M to a wealthy overseas owned “green” school but have child poverty at an all-time crisis level? –  Jane Smith

You don’t need a degree in telemetry to see that the myriad of policies touted on the electioneering circuit don’t add up, particularly the ones that not only bite the hand that feeds the country, but chop off both arms and legs – and then ask those food producing and manufacturing sectors to run an economic marathon. – Jane Smith

The great irony is that we were sold MMP on the basis that it made politicians more accountable, when the exact reverse is the case. It’s the very antithesis of transparency. – Karl du Fresne

Imagine someone scraping all the maddest bits from the carcass of Facebook — a reclaimed slurry of 5G alarmism, anti-vax propaganda and scaremongering about electromagnets — and turning it into a manifesto. That, very roughly, is the Public Party. Sarah Ditum

Carve any subject down to its barest conflicts, and you won’t help people find enlightenment and resolution. Instead, you’ll make them feel attacked, embattled, inflexible. In a recent piece Amanda Ripley warned of the dangers of journalism that goes in pursuit of simplicity; and which has, unfortunately, the effect of making everyone more committed to the certainties they’ve already chosen. Instead, she says, they should look for complexity, arguing that “Complexity counters this craving, restoring the cracks and inconsistencies that had been air-brushed out of the picture. It’s less comforting, yes. But it’s also more interesting — and true.”Sarah Ditum

But which aspect of inequality should we be worried about? There are inequalities of opportunity and inequalities of outcome; there is overall inequality and there is inequality at the tails of the distribution. Should we be more worried about absolute or relative positions – mobility or stability? What is really more important, the distribution of the economic pie or the level and growth of living standards? – Michael Boskin

It is time to start harnessing the power of the market rather than the government. That is how we will replace dependency with opportunity and upward mobility. – Michael Boskin

Well listen here people, and I say this as a Party loyalist and activist with a certain pedigree, I hold each and every one of you jointly and severally responsible for what happened last Saturday night.  Put bluntly. You had collectively forfeited the right to govern and we (the Party) paid the price.The Veteran

A caucus that leaks is not and never can be an effective opposition. – The Veteran

The way in which we value food is mysterious. As an example, if you look at the price of apples in New Zealand in April (peak harvest time) and compare them with a takeaway coffee, the takeaway coffee is consistently higher: over the past 10 years the price of a takeaway coffee was 50 per cent higher than a kilo of apples. Interestingly, both apples and coffee are considered beneficial in getting you going in the morning (but there are around 10 apples in a kilo compared with one coffee). Dr Helen Darling

Bad ideas owe their advance into mainstream thinking not just to bad people but also to otherwise decent people going along with such notions out of cowardice or other weakness. The censorship of any thinking which conflicts with the orthodoxies of identity politics is increasingly destroying the western university as the crucible of reason, along with its core purpose to advance knowledge through the free play of evidence, ideas and argument.Melanie Phillips

Some might think that not just Lord of the Flies but George Orwell’s 1984 are no longer fiction but have become, terrifyingly, our contemporary reality.  Melanie Phillips

In no other country has the pendulum swung so far from traditional school knowledge towards more esoteric “21st century skills.” Today, while nearly every school leaver gets a certificate, many of them – about two fifths – are functionally illiterate and innumerate.

The dumbing down of our school system is a scandal. And while those responsible probably had the best intentions, the bigger scandal is that they now try to explain away this poor performance.

It frankly baffles me that when someone points out our poor education results, they are routinely criticised of elitism, Eurocentrism or other such nonsense. The truth is that teaching a broad, knowledge-rich and stimulating education would help precisely those children without elite or privileged backgrounds.

The education system’s pursuit of noble and progressive goals has tragically sacrificed the future of Kiwi children. In doing so, it is not just cementing but widening ethnic and class divides. – Dr Oliver Hartwich

The only Green Party we have had in Parliament has been a collection of political activists far more energised by social concerns and antagonism to capitalism than environmental projects. – John Roughan

Genuine Greens understand that environmental values can very effectively be priced into business and market behaviour through carbon taxes or tradeable emissions permits under a descending cap. Some of the Greens in our Parliament have no idea how markets work. – John Roughan

The risks, as they say, are almost all to the downside. The question must be asked, are we all completely mis-pricing that risk?

Have we convinced ourselves that we are living in a hermetically sealed paradise, where nothing can touch us and what is happening in the rest of the world has no bearing on our jobs and livelihoods? If that is the case, we might be heading for a rude shock. – Steven Joyce

So how does this all end? Well, no matter what anyone says, there is no such thing as a free lunch. As the economic damage of Covid-19 plays out, asset prices will revert to more sensible numbers.

The only question seems to be whether it will happen gradually or suddenly. We will also pay for this massive fiscal and monetary stimulus in increased taxes, spending controls, higher inflation, more sluggish growth or a combination of all four. – Steven Joyce


Quotes of the month

01/10/2020

There is a limit to how much NZers are prepared to pay for cleaner water. – Chris Nixon

Just like KiwiBuild, Auckland Light Rail, the Capital Gains Tax and effective climate change policies, this Government got bogged down in a welter of working groups, coalition disputes, bureaucratic infighting and stonewalling, and an inability at the top level of Cabinet to direct the organs of Government to carry out its will. Weak and overwhelmed ministers accepted ‘Yes Minister’ for an answer and were not able to stop the initial energy and direction from dribbling away into the sands of endless consultation, trials and ways for officials to avoid taking risks or challenging the status quo.  Bernard Hickey

If Minister Faafoi thinks paying one hundred million dollars to keep Auckland out of level four for the past three weeks is a risk, then the other risk he’s just taken has just cost us way more. I have no idea why people are treating Sam the way they did and why Minister Faafoi seemed to dismiss Sam today as being sort of petulant. Minister Faafoi and those ministers, if they can’t respond fast and quickly enough they need to step aside. – Ian Taylor

Economic reform is all about the rules that businesses play under and it’s a bit like rugby. Make the rules too tight or confusing and the game collapses into a bunch of whistle and stop-start time-wasting. Loosen them up, the game flows, points can be scored and jobs created.  Steven Joyce

Did I need pills? No, I needed love, I needed aroha. I needed someone to provide the environment where I could be the best possible version of myself. – Tricia Walsh

 And how powerful, once seen, is the knowledge of genuine commitment and love in smothering out the petty grievances and the misunderstandings! Love indeed covers a multitude of sins. John Anderson

 . . . one of the greatest predictors of how well we turn out as people, and how society turns out, is the presence of decent fathering. We need to end the silence on this. If we really care about our children, and our boys in particular, (the prison statistics alone tell us how serious their crisis is) we would own a simple truth whether convenient or not and start talking about the critical importance of fathering. John Anderson

When it came time to vote, I asked my grandfather, “Who should I vote for?” He said, “The National Party. They’ll back you.” And that’s been my experience. Shelley Pilkington

I know that the values of personal responsibility, hard work and reward for effort are not just political ideology; they actually work. But to achieve these things well, we also need strong families and caring communities – another key National Party value. We need to be surrounded by people who believe in us – like my grandad – who invest their time and attention to lift and encourage others to be everything they were meant to be; and to be supported by a government that gives people a hand up, not just a hand out. – Shelley Pilkington

The real lesson from this is, instead of saying this is an irritant that we’re going to deal with and bat out the way and life will go back to the way it used to be, we have to be a little more comfortable about taking a leaf out of the HIV book and saying that this is a new pathogen that’s going to change the environment within which we behave. That’s what life is – that’s evolution. – The real lesson from this is, instead of saying this is an irritant that we’re going to deal with and bat out the way and life will go back to the way it used to be, we have to be a little more comfortable about taking a leaf out of the HIV book and saying that this is a new pathogen that’s going to change the environment within which we behave. That’s what life is – that’s evolution. – David Nabarro

Our farmers are efficient, effective and see farming as a long term commitment to the land and their communities. If the Government wants us to become one big Pamu-type corporate entity that ticks every audit box, has a farm technician on every corner, and contributes bugger all to the social, economic and environmental GDP of the country, then they are going the right way about it.- Jane Smith

What I think is really important to understand is that we cannot simply borrow our way out of a recession, what we need to do is build our way out of it.Judith Collins

Despite the Ministry of Health lifting the Lockdown rules in line with New Zealand’s risk level, the messaging to the public has led to an acceptance of rules for rules sake. We are living in a community where rules based on fear, not science, are considered enough and questioning the logic of these rules is seen as rebellion.

The result is marginalising those in the community who respect evidence-based decision making. This is the status quo, and I do not think it is kind. Nor does it align with the can-do and curious nature that New Zealanders are known for. – Emily Broadmore

Let’s put essential industries aside. We should be looking at what’s a safe industry. Can anyone explain to me why a diary is allowed to open but the local butchers next door can’t? And the answer is because someone has decided that one is essential and the other’s not. – Judith Collins

You generally don’t have successful top-level athletes complaining about their treatment. They tend to live by the Hamish Bond philosophy of “make sure you are the best, then your ability is never questioned”. They are the types of athletes normally content with the outcome of their goals, who walk away from sport on their own terms. Eric Murray

For myself, all that I hope is that when I next consult with someone towards the end of their life, is that I have neither hastened or prolonged death; that I can offer effective pain relief and care; that I can create a space for important shared moments and know that our healthcare system have adequately developed services for supporting people near death. One that supports all people equally, when they are most at need. – Dr Carmen Chan

People need to understand Kiwibuild is not an aberration. It is the norm in terms of delivery vs rhetoric. – David Farrar

But posing and posturing have become a mass phenomenon, the tattooing of our time. Of nothing is this more true than contemporary Woke morality. Whereas not long ago young people of the middle classes sought to express their sympathy for the lower and supposedly oppressed orders by imitating their tattoos and way of dress, imitation being the highest form of empathy available to egotists, they now express the same desire by making Wokeness the touchstone of their morality. They think they are rebelling when, of course, they are conforming. They do not realize that it is more difficult, and more courageous, to contradict a friend than to criticize a society. – Theodore Dalrymple

 If anything has been institutionalized, it is not racism but guilt, though guilt of a peculiar, ersatz, dishonest kind. – Theodore Dalrymple

Nevertheless, posers and posturers prefer to concentrate on distant problems because they require nothing of them except the expression of the right opinions and sometimes a protest, demonstration, or even riot, which of course is a pleasure rather than a discipline, in the way that acting virtuously is a discipline. – Theodore Dalrymple

 No honest person who takes the trouble to read it can see the novel as transphobic. But then honest people are hard to find in a culture war. – Nick Cohen

The poor seldom come out of a crisis better off. Imagine if in 1938, when Michael Joseph Savage increased his majority, instead of creating the welfare state he promised a new holiday. That’s where we are now.Josie Pagani

It is always better for a government to do everything possible, even if useless, than to do nothing, even if the results are no worse. It follows from all these considerations that to impose a quarantine was politically all but inevitable because the object of government is not to save lives but to save itself. No doubt this is not as it should be, ideally speaking, but it is the way of the world. – Theodore Dalrymple

The tapestry of the past is composed of dark and light, but by looking at the light, and acknowledging it, instead of focusing only on the dark, we can see how the light has showed us the way to a more just, more compassionate present. The light can inspire and lead us out of the darkness of injustice or cruelty into the possibilities of a fairer kinder future.  Valerie Davies

Under the government’s new projections, people will be poorer, opportunities will be more limited, communities will face increased pressure and home prices will continue climbing, unhampered by pandemic or recession. If you’re a millennial New Zealander and you haven’t purchased a home yet, this is as close as the government will come to telling you that part of the Kiwi dream is now dead and buried. – Justin Giovannetti

Kneecap farming exports by say 10% and expect unemployment to rise, tax revenues shrink and government debt to increase.Wayne Mapp

You do not want to find yourself in the middle of next year, having just lost your job, relying on a bunch of people with a track record of dithering and not delivering,and wishing that you had voted National. – Judith Collins

When it comes to politics, people will always prefer policy-based evidence to the evidence-based policy.  Liam Hehir

Well, yeah I do understand where money comes from. It comes from hard work, and other people’s often. I will not manage myself to conform to a view of women that we all need to be soft and cuddly. – Judith Collins

It’s conviction politics. You stand for something. If you stand for something, and you can proudly articulate it, and stand by it, that’s a significantly easier position to take, and to hold. Much more than one which depends on what a pollster says, or a focus group. I’ve never focus grouped, personally. – Judith Collins

The world is in the midst of a cultural war known as The Great Awokening. Armies of young progressives, media personalities, journalists, bureaucrats, and academics have seized the moment to demand that the rest of society must have only one set of correct thoughts about race, gender, and sex. Should you express the opinion that all lives matter instead of Black Lives Matter or call someone a coloured person instead of a person of colour, you risk losing your livelihood or being visited by a mob intent on changing your mind by intimidation.- Gerry Bowler

If from a great height of authority you tell people that they are helpless, that is what they will become, especially when they derive some kind of self-destructive short-term benefit from being or acting helpless, such as the ability to continue to take drugs in the knowledge that it is not their fault.  – Theodore Dalrymple

Farmers have enough on their plate with weather, interest rates, and international markets, they shouldn’t have to contend with a Government who doesn’t understand their sector and restricts their growth. New Zealand’s reputation as a producer of quality and sustainable agricultural products is well known around the world. When we form the next Government, our pledge is to ensure that our agricultural policy focuses on allowing farmers the opportunity to farm their way to better outcomes, rather than being regulated into oblivion. – Judith Collins

You don’t trade off freedom for security. In fact it isn’t a trade off. Less freedom makes you less secure.David Farrar

But beyond that, what did the debate tell us? It told me Judith Collins has life experience and not just in law. When social problems came up she could refer to her childhood in a sub-standard house and her husband feeling he should leave school too young. She grew up on a farm. When Jacinda Ardern talks on these subjects she sounds like a policy paper. – John Roughan

In fact actually she’s good in a disaster – I’d go so far as to call her a disaster Prime Minister. – David Seymour

Mercy is a value that should be at the heart of any functioning and tolerant society. Mercy ultimately acknowledges that we are all imperfect and in doing so allows us the oxygen to breathe — to feel protected within a society, through our mutual fallibility. Without mercy a society loses its soul, and devours itself.

Mercy allows us the ability to engage openly in free-ranging conversation — an expansion of collective discovery toward a common good. If mercy is our guide we have a safety net of mutual consideration, and we can, to quote Oscar Wilde, “play gracefully with ideas.”

Yet mercy is not a given. It is a value we must nurture and aspire to. Tolerance allows the spirit of enquiry the confidence to roam freely, to make mistakes, to self-correct, to be bold, to dare to doubt and in the process to chance upon new and more advanced ideas. Without mercy society grows inflexible, fearful, vindictive and humourless. – Nick Cave

As far as I can see, cancel culture is mercy’s antithesis. Political correctness has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world. Its once honourable attempt to reimagine our society in a more equitable way now embodies all the worst aspects that religion has to offer (and none of the beauty) — moral certainty and self-righteousness shorn even of the capacity for redemption. It has become quite literally, bad religion run amuck. – Nick Cave


Quotes of the month

02/09/2020

If we can beat this virus, then we can beat most respiratory ones. The ridiculous way in which we tolerate cold-spreaders, mocking them for taking a day off and praising them for trudging into work while feeling miserable, has to stop. It should be socially unacceptable to go to a party with a cold, let alone kiss the host on the cheek when you get there. – Matt Ridley

In order that today’s middle-class and middle-aged are not required to pay the price of maintaining their current lifestyles we are stripping our children of the opportunities that we claim we want for them. – Damien Grant

The fact the economy is in tatters must not be focused on because as we have heard and you will continue to hear, .we are in the middle of a pandemic. The health freak out worked for them. The economic misery, not so much.  But here’s the truth the truth of today, not March, we are not in the middle of anything other than a recession the likes of which we have never seen. This country is not in a pandemic, we haven’t been for months. And even in its worst moments, of the 1000 beds we set aide for the tidal wave of death and ventilators, we hardly filled any.They’ve had their health curtain call, we’ve applauded. But they’re now milking the standing ovations for naked political advantage.   –  Mike Hosking

It’s very important that people are in jobs wherever possible and I have a huge commitment to people being in work. I have been in work pretty much all my adult life and my view has always been that work is not only good for the economy, it’s good for people, but it’s very good for people’s mental health and their sense of well-being. –Judith Collins

It is a useful reminder that strong emotion is not, of itself, a reason for doing something, let alone a useful guide to policy. The heart has its reasons that the head knows not of, Pascal said; but it is just as true that the head has its reasons that the heart knows not of. Reason and feeling must be in some kind of balance. At the moment, feeling in the ascendant, at least in the West, with disastrous results.  – Theodore Dalrymple

They picked the wrong person if they want an acquiescent member of caucus who doesn’t have the capacity to think. – Louisa Wall

Just because you can print the dollars that pay for lunch doesn’t make it free. – Pattrick Smellie

What most astonished me was the swiftness and completeness of the transformation of life, and the passivity with which it was accepted. Was this an instance of laudable social discipline, or a confirmation of Tocqueville’s characterization of the future citizens of democracy as a herd of sheep, which, accustomed to regulation in the smallest detail by a supposedly benevolent authority, has become incapable of independent thought and action? Theodore Dalrymple

When you smile, you just feel happy, and if you feel happy you can make other people happy. – Judith Collins

It’s really simply saying if you’ve got people who come from dysfunctional and difficult families, you’re going to end up spending more money on them, so put that effort in early on to try and keep them out of trouble later on, and also end up with better health and social outcomes. – Judith Collins

If you’re going to borrow, you need to do it now while the interest rates are low, and you’ve got things to do it with, but you can’t be so crazy that you end up leaving your children and grandchildren with debt to deal with, you’ve got to be able to pay it back. – Judith Collins

So when I finally leave this place, in another decade or so, it will be knowing that I’ve done my utter best for the country, and for the party I think and know should be leading the government. – Judith Collins

. . . the fact of progress is much less useful to political entrepreneurs than is the narrative of history as nothing but a nightmare that continues to the present day and, as Marx put it, weighs upon the brain of the living. Only by keeping the memory of the nightmare ever-present in the minds of their sheep, thereby stoking resentment, may the political shepherds herd, and then fleece, the flock. – Theodore Dalrymple

Because resentment has certain sour satisfactions, it is one of the few emotions that can persist unabated for years: indeed, it tends to increase, because it exists in a mental echo-chamber. One such sour satisfaction is that it allows the one who feels it to think himself morally superior to the world as it is at present constituted, even if he has done nothing to improve it, or done something to make it a little worse. And where resentment leads to action rather than to passivity, it is almost always action that is destructive rather than constructive. It leads also to a considerable quantity of humbug, insofar as it primes people to look for new justifications for their dissatisfactions, and to claim that they cannot be happy until there is no more unhappiness caused by injustice in the world.Theodore Dalrymple

I live in what is perhaps the most successful country in dealing with Covid – barring Taiwan. And yet what I see around me is a total, total mess. – Eric Crampton

The over-arching communications policy from the Beehive and top officials seems to have been: if we get up on the yellow stripey podium and repeat statements that are not yet true enough times, by the umpteenth time we say them, hopefully they will be true. . . .While it’s obvious the authorities who address us daily have at times been kept in butt-protecting ignorance by their underlings, their suspiciously careful language suggests they’ve had a fair idea this was happening. Jane Clifton

The kind one is so very unkind when she relishes people hanging on to hear what is going to happen to their lives, their families, jobs and businesses, but blathers on endlessly. It’s so disrespectful, so self-centered and self-serving. – Lindsay Mitchell

“I’ve seen health systems manage medical emergencies worse than this but it takes some doing. It’s like we’re living in a parallel universe. Des Gorman

There is plenty of evidence in the bizarrely vague testing regime applied to New Zealanders working at the border that Pike River levels of incompetence and dysfunction lurk in the public health system and could yet be fatally exposed.Pattrick Smellie

A campaign before an election is as critical as election day itself. As things are, there is nothing free or fair about the politicians’ ability to do that. . . It borders on being almost undemocratic to hold an election in the near future. – Claire Trevett

Uncertainty is like cancer to free enterprise and it can spread rapidly. Firms stop investing, stop hiring, stop planning and start acting with caution to preserve their arteries. – Ryan Bridge

Commentators dismiss such concerns as placing the economy ahead of lives but they fail to understand that the ‘economy’ is a word we use describe the aggregation of all our lives. It is the means by which we feed, clothe and educate ourselves. It is how we find fulfilment, enjoyment and entertainment.

The real problem of these intermittent lockdowns isn’t the temporary shock but the uncertainty they build into our commercial life. Businesses need to forecast revenue, especially if they are expanding or investing. This becomes impossible in the ferment of uncertainty created by our obsession with this coronavirusDamien Grant

When did we all get so binary and, in some cases, bats*** crazy? Those who worship at the Church of St Jacinda and the Holy Bloomfield are blind to any wrongs or failings of their demigods.

You simply cannot have a free and frank exchange of views with some people – it’s like the Springbok tour all over again. If you dare to suggest the Government has made mistakes, the acolytes cast you into the camp of the conspiracy theorists who are alive and well and fomenting their madness all across social media. They – the acolytes and the tinfoil hat-wearers – are blind to reason and rationale. – Kerrie McIvor

Liberals virtue-signalling their praise for a leader who ‘puts people before money’ are like those who praise Venezuela or Cuba – they don’t have to deal with the misery caused by their idols. It seems they care far more about platitudes than people. – Matt Drake

Sure, if you’re after smiles and warm fuzzies, the PM’s a good communicator. But good communication must also contain facts, trust, and honesty. –  Kate Hawkesby

It shows the danger of policy by press release, that actually there needs to be follow-through. – Gerard Hehir

It’s an enormous red flag if Cabinet and the ministry have completely different ideas about what is meant to be happening.Derek Cheng

This is a hard problem, and, sometimes, in situations like this, with huge complexity and many balls in the air, one of them gets dropped. When that happens, this Opposition will help pick up that ball and put it back in its correct place. There will be a time to understand how the ball was dropped, but first we will help put it back, and then we’ll figure out how not to drop it again. – Shane Reti

There is more at stake here than election year politicking. A serious communication breakdown between officials on the ground and ministers in the war room is unacceptable, but a failure to account for how it happened is worse. This is the second time assurances about testing at the border have turned out to be simply untrue, and the second time ministers have been caught by surprise. A government agency that can’t or won’t execute policy is an embarrassment in normal times, and a serious risk to public safety during a pandemic. Management of those bureaucrats is very squarely the responsibility of politicians. – Ben Thomas

I take issue with the Prime Minister’s constant mantra of “we went hard and fast”. If we’d gone fast – as in closing the border more quickly – we wouldn’t have had to go as hard in terms of lockdowns, businesses forced to shut their doors and Government borrowing an unprecedented amount to prop up the economy. – Heather Roy

It’s hard to imagine a much easier scenario for contact tracers than this. One cluster, one family, their contacts, caught early, as the Prime Minister says. So, if our health authorities can’t handle something this simple without locking down a city of 1.7 million, what hope is there that this is our last lockdown?

Lockdowns should not be the go-to option. They should be the last resort. They are too expensive. They cost people’s livelihoods, their jobs and their businesses.

This is not an objection to the attempts to prevent Covid’s spread. It is an objection to health authorities having no option but nuclear, because they weren’t ready for something they knew would happen. It is an objection to the failure of those authorities and the ministers in charge of them to prepare the safeguards to prevent another lockdown. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

The discovery of community transmission in Auckland not only rocked the smug complacency coming from the top down and affecting all of us, but also raised blunt, difficult questions that drew uncomfortable answers about how well the “team of five million” had actually been doing. It turns out the border control programme was not watertight after all, with personnel associated with the new arrivals not being tested at all, even though they were being potentially exposed on a daily basis to the virus. And the level of community testing was nothing like the government had led us to believe. Peter Dunne

They’ve often hidden behind the fact that there’s no rule book for coping with a pandemic, but there are books with rules and they are called the statutes containing the laws of the land – and if the lawmakers don’t understand them, what hope is there for the rule of law in this country? – Barry Soper

We all have imperfections but it doesn’t doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be loved or shouldn’t love yourself. . . No matter where you’re from you can change people’s lives forever for the better. –  Dustin Luther

Child poverty was a national crisis before Covid-19 and without urgent action, it risks turning into a catastrophe. – Anita Baker

What happened, happened. You cannot “unhappen” history. – Henry Armstrong

Sometimes an issue is so serious or the failure so obvious that you have to drop the buzz phrases, quit the dissembling and level with the public. They may even thank you for it, and they’ll be more inclined to believe what you say in the future.

As it is, we are approaching a risky point where the public may stop believing the Government and its spin — which is tricky when you are dealing with a pandemic. – Steven Joyce

From the experience of those who served in Clark’s administration, A Visit From Heather was a phenomenon which, could it be distilled, would make a world-beating laxative and emetic combined.  – Jane Clifton

In this outbreak emergency, the daily briefings convey vital public health information. It is important we can trust in their veracity. But as long as they are led by ministers, the backdrop will always be politics. And, to paraphrase George Orwell, political language is often designed to make lies sound truthful. – Andrea Vance

One year I asked the administrator whether I could sit not five subjects but six subjects, like all my friends were. I remember the reply: ‘No, Shane. You’re a Māori boy. You’ll do five.’  My internal response was a call to arms: ‘Right. I will show you.’

My external response was to win the English prize that year. No, not for me six subjects. I was still allowed to sit only five. But many years later, when I was promoted to assistant professor at Harvard, I think I made my point. I won, but many Maori do not. The educational aspirations of Maori must never ever be bound by the preconceptions of others. – Shane Reti

It’s been a wee while coming, but I’ve finally had enough of the platitudes, and sentimental psycho-babble. – Polly Gillespie

The lack of accountability is staggering. The Prime Minister refuses to blame anyone, now she’s blaming the trickiness of a virus. No one has talked to me like that since I was at Horohoro kindy. David Seymour

There is a hierarchy of news and I don’t put analysis at the top of it. I rank opinion even further down the scale. – Gavin Ellis

I decided to forgive you Mr Tarrant because I don’t have hate, I don’t have revenge. The damage is done, Hussein will never be here. I have only one choice but to forgive you. Janna Ezat

 Strong, stable families with intact work ethics. Those characteristics nurture and protect children to a much greater extent than cash hand-outs.  – Lindsay Mitchell

“Science is a mechanism,” refers to the idea that science is about applying experimentation and observation to those things about which we are uncertain. Its job is to lay the foundation for the development of theories, not facts. And, when we toss an existing theory into the bin because it isn’t supported by emerging data, that is a victory for science. Thus, true science requires us to keep an open mind… on an ongoing basis. – Lisa Taylor

As a parent, no matter how old your children are they will always be your babies forever. – Rashid Omar

I urge you to take a look around this courtroom and ask yourself, who exactly is the other here right now? Is it us, or is it you?Sara Qasem 

If all humans have one characteristic in common it would be the ability to overcome and forget the past. Something we clearly can do, but something you clearly cannot do – for two reasons. The first reason is that you don’t have a future, so you don’t live anywhere but the past alone and lonely. The second reason is that you are not actually a human, not even an animal since animals are beneficial to the world. You are classified as someone who’s dumb enough not to realise beyond the skin all humans are the same. – Mustafa Boztas

Cant matters for a number of reasons that the authors enumerate. It destroys moderation. It is cruel and intolerant towards those who think differently. It divides people into the saved and the damned. Because it is one-sided and does not recognise the complexity of life, let alone the tragic dimension of life, it encourages bad policy in the name of some supposedly immaculate principle. People who cant are often willing to decimate a countryside because actual results as experienced by others do not interest them. What they are interested in is how they appear morally to others, and that only as a means to advancement. Cant is careerist. – Theodore Dalrymple

The leader of the Green Party, which purports publicly to be the party of the downtrodden and dispossessed, has inadvertently revealed itself for what many think it actually is – a party that mostly serves well-heeled Kiwis in secure and well-paid employment that care about the environment, climate change and want to go cycling and tramping on the weekend. – Luke Malpass

The self-employed are the equivalent of the small private lots of land that communist societies would allow farmers to tend for their own benefit. From these small plots of dirt was produced a vastly disproportionate amount of produce while the vast collective farms produced little. – Damien Grant


Many reasons for border failures

24/08/2020

Steven Joyce has identified three reasons for border failures:

. . . First, the Government and its Covid response is being run by a way too small group. The Prime Minister and her group of three core ministers hardly trust anyone to make decisions outside their inner circle. While there is always a core group, in this instance even senior portfolio ministers are being sidelined.

The whole Government currently seems to come down to the PM, Robertson, Hipkins, Woods, Bloomfield, and the ever-present Brian Roche and Heather Simpson.  . . 

The upper coterie didn’t even trust the then-Health Minister to be in Wellington during the initial lockdown.

Keeping to such a small group is a a dangerous level of control freakery and reinforces the belief that Cabinet has a very few capable Ministers and a whole lot of empty chairs.

. . With something this big, it pays to take advice from all quarters and forget the party politics for a bit. Unfortunately, the current Government has remained intensely political and self-protective throughout the Covid response, while maintaining that it isn’t.

It’s particularly egregious that Ashley Bloomfield is being shielded from fronting up to a parliamentary committee to answer questions about the border breaches and the lockdown. He’s not a politician, he’s a well-paid public servant who currently has extraordinary power over people’s lives. He simply must front.

The government-dominated Health Select Committee has turned down National’s health spokesman Dr Shane Reti’s request for it to reconvene to enable the DG to be questioned and on Q&A yesterday Jack Tame said requests for him to front on that programmer have been refused.

Second, Chris Hipkins has a ridiculous workload. Speaking as someone who has held a few portfolios in my time, the idea that any single individual could successfully manage Health, Education, the State Sector, and Parliament’s business all at once is truly ludicrous. And so it has proven.

Chris Hipkins is a capable individual but he is clearly not completely across his health brief. On top of that, his statements this week suggesting first that conspiratorial rumours on Facebook were themselves a conspiracy, and second that the 1pm press conferences were the single source of truth — a statement reminiscent of Comical Ali of Iraq — suggest someone under a lot of stress.

If the already overloaded Hipkins was the only one capable of taking on Health, It indicates a serious lack of ability in Labour’s ranks.

Finally, the PM and her ministers need to stop thinking that politics is a game of how to spin your way out of absolutely everything. This has been their Achilles heel.

They have been caught too often saying one thing one week, and something completely different a couple of weeks later, all in the hope that the public have the memories of goldfish.

It is a politician’s job to put a positive spin on most things, but you can’t keep arguing that black is white when it obviously isn’t. If you try, people stop believing you.

Sometimes an issue is so serious or the failure so obvious that you have to drop the buzz phrases, quit the dissembling and level with the public. They may even thank you for it, and they’ll be more inclined to believe what you say in the future.

As it is, we are approaching a risky point where the public may stop believing the Government and its spin — which is tricky when you are dealing with a pandemic. . . 

There are more than enough examples of serious discrepancies in what the government and DG of Health have said and what was actually happening to undermine confidence – from the early days of lockdown when they kept saying there was enough PPE and flu vaccines when front line staff were saying there wasn’t to the recent huge gaps between the policy on border testing and its implementation.

Three big reasons for border failures are bad enough, but there are more, among them are the problems created by having 15 different border agencies dealing with different parts of the process:

National’s new policy to delegate or create an agency to be in charge of the border is exactly what is needed right now. Here is a list of all the various agencies doing various different facets of border control, with insufficient overall leadership or governance from any single body. It’s no surprise that the virus has reemerged!  . . 

This complex mishmash of responsibility and authority has been described as a spider’s web. That attributes far more skill and direction than it deserves.

There’s a pattern to spiders’ webs.

The only pattern in the mishmash of responsibility and authority for border control appears to be gaping holes and repeated failure to learn from mistakes.

And if we’re looking for reasons it’s hard to go past this government’s record of mistaking pronouncements for achievements.

Time after time it’s been so much better at talking about what it’s doing, or think it’s doing, than actually doing it or ensuring it’s done.


Power for the south

13/07/2020

Love many fat royal people today.

That’s the mnemonic by which I can still recall sixth form geography’s lesson on the six factors which affect the location of industry – labour, market, finance, raw materials, power and transport.

When it comes to power, the market in New Zealand is distorted by averaging of transmission costs across the country. That is one of the major reasons Rio Tinto has decided to close the Tiwai aluminium smelter next year and Richard Harman points out it is Auckland votes that did the damage:

. . .Opposition from the city, and particularly its business community, to proposals, put up in 2016 to change the way consumers paid for the transmission component of power pricing killed off what could have been a $20 million cost-saving for the smelter.

That might have been enough to save it. Rio Tinto’s loss on the smelter last year was $46 million. . . 

NZAS has argued that it is forced to pay for investment in the country’s power supply network that has no relevance to it, such as upgrades in the North Island when it is based at Bluff.

In 2017 a company press statement said NZAS paid  around nine per cent of Transpower’s transmission charges to consumers, “including paying towards the $1.3 billion spent on upgrading the grid in the upper North Island since 2004 without receiving any additional benefit to its business.”

“When it comes to transmission charges, we believe you should pay for what you use,” said then-CEO   Gretta Stephens.

“This isn’t what is happening now, so we are committed to working with the Electricity Authority and Transpower to achieve a more sustainable method of pricing transmission services.”

Stephens was therefore ready to endorse an Electricity Authority proposal in May 2017 to radically overhaul the transmission pricing regime and essentially make it a user-pays system. The further a consumer was from their power generator; the more they would be likely to pay.

The smelter uses only about 40km of Transpower lines because the main transmission lines from Meridian’s Manapouri power station to the northern outskirts of Invercargill are owned by Meridian.

The total length of all transmission lines owned by Transpower is 12,000km.

So in proposing that this imbalance be addressed, NZAS, told the Electricity Authority in 2017 the smelter had been located in its current position to allow for port access and to minimise the need for transmission.

“Auckland, by comparison, grew organically because of the natural advantages the location has for residential living,” the company said. “These advantages did not include nearby economic energy resources.

“As a result, considerable expense has been, and continues to be, applied to transporting electricity to Auckland.

“Because of these characteristics, the economic cost of providing transmission services for NZAS is considerably lower than the economic cost of transmission to Auckland”.

Southern individuals and businesses have been and are continuing to subsidise those in the north.

The Electricity Authority then produced a new transmission pricing proposal which would have seen NZAS’s transmission costs drop by 34 per cent to $40 million a year. But to help pay for that, the Authority proposed increasing the transmission costs to Vector, the former Auckland Electric Power Board, by 44 per cent or $50 a household a year.

There was an immediate uproar. . . 

The uproar came from a much bigger voting block than the one in the south and the north won.

Steven Joyce is one northerner who understands this:

Nearly 5 per cent of the Southland workforce will likely lose their jobs — a massive body blow. For Aucklanders having difficulty comprehending what that means, a shock of a similar magnitude in that city would be 40,000 people losing their jobs at once.

The Finance Minister is conveniently trying to hide behind the skirts of Bill English, reminding everyone that Bill said “no more” to Rio Tinto after 2013, and as current minister he’s just sticking with the line. It’s weird how trapped he feels by an 8-year-old decision.

If it helps at all, the Bill English I know wouldn’t have handed out $10 million to a bungy jumping company in Queenstown. If desperate times warrant that much being handed to a single private tourism company, or a ludicrous $280m to support New Zealand Post, Southlanders will legitimately ask why not $30 or $50 million for 2600 jobs in their region?

A very good question and if the smelter was in Northland does anyone doubt that it would get the money?

The smelter has as good a case as the tourism or film sectors, and a considerably better case than what has become a glorified courier company. The international market for aluminium has crashed as a result of Covid-19 decimating the car- and plane-making industries.

More egregiously, the electricity for this and other Southland businesses comes from just up the road at Manapouri, yet Southland is made to pay to have power circulated around the rest of the country. The request for help is more a case for stopping an unfair levy than for a fresh subsidy. Southland is not the only region, and aluminium not the only regional industry that is up against it. . . 

Some people see a silver lining in the smelter closure in the potential for cheaper power. But the electricity the smelter uses is generated in Southland, upgrading transmission lines to get it to the northern North Island would cost many millions of dollars.

If those costs were averaged over the country it would be rubbing very expensive salt into the wounds the smelter closure will inflict on Southland, its labour force and economy.

But it’s not only Southland that is facing big jobs losses.

The Marsden Point refinery bankrolls a similar proportion of high-paying jobs in Northland, and the refining company is making near-identical noises about closure.

Meanwhile, Taranaki is continuing to come to grips with the Government’s pre-Covid oil and gas exploration ban placing an artificial sunset on its biggest industry, and associated companies like Methanex and the ammonia urea plant.

Outside of heavy industry, the Covid-19 border controls have put on ice a series of other sectors that normally contribute to New Zealand’s wealth and jobs.

The $5 billion we earn annually from international education is dwindling to nearly nothing — and that leaves schools, universities and other providers short $1b a year for tuition fees alone.

Tourism limps along on one domestic cylinder, which sparks up in the school holidays but is insufficient to sustain many of the companies reliant on it.

The tech companies that succeed in the world despite our isolated location are wondering how long they can operate from their New Zealand base while being physically cut off from their customers.

And the foresters are suffering from whiplash, feeling alternately loved and loathed, sometimes almost in the same press release, as the Government has somehow got itself to the point where it will decide when forests are planted and where they can be sold. No wonder politicians were belatedly cuddling up to the farmers this week. Food is in danger of becoming our only export sector, so let’s call a truce in the regulatory hostilities and pretend all that talk about the need to diversify away from agriculture was just a bad dream.

The more other export industries falter, the more important agriculture becomes.

Which brings us to the bigger problem that the smelter closure underlines. Exactly how do we plan to make money to pay off this huge debt the Government is running up on our behalf?

How will we fill the massive hole in our exports left by tourism, education, aluminium and oil and gas? And exactly how do we plan to magic up 2600 replacement high-paying jobs in Southland?

Our economic response to Covid-19 is looking ridiculously haphazard. If the Government likes you, you get a bucket of money. If they don’t, then tough luck.

We first need a level playing field, and then we need to focus on increasing the competitiveness of all our businesses. We also need, to paraphrase a certain Australian Prime Minister, to get out from under the duvet and start re-engaging with the safer parts of the world again.

Right now we are being way too cavalier with our whole economic fabric. We could wake up and find whole regions permanently crippled — the ultimate irony for a Government that claims to “champion the regions”.

And, given that our biggest power consumers will have gone, and taken with them their outsized contributions to the costs of the electricity grid, we may not even have cheap power to make us feel better.

Taking big electricity users out of the market won’t make power cheaper. If the big users who contribute most to the energy companies’ coffers go, the cost will be spread across fewer, smaller users including households.

Given the fall in the price of aluminum, even a lower power price probably wouldn’t save the smelter.

But the smelter’s closure should provide the impetus to stop the southern subsidising of the north’s power.

Finding new businesses to soak up the people left unemployed when the smelter closed won’t be easy.

But it could be less difficult if everyone paid the actual cost of getting power which would make Southland much more attractive than Auckland to any enterprises where electricity costs were significant.

Southland has the labour, a variety or raw materials, good transport options and finance is reasonably mobile. It might be further from many markets but much cheaper power could well compensate for that.

So much power is generated in the south, far less will be needed down here without the smelter. This is an opportunity to ensure it stays here and southerners get lower prices to benefit households and the businesses that could soak up at least some of the workers left jobless when the smelter closes.

But what’s the chances of cheaper electric power for the south when political power is in the north?


No active cases

08/06/2020

New Zealand has no active cases of Covid-19:

We should already be at alert level 1:

. . .Former finance minister Steven Joyce believes we should be at level one already, and believes there’s been a mispricing of risk when it comes to the move to alert level one.

He told Mike Hosking there’s always lots of risks in the world.

“It seems the only measure of success right now is how long we can go without a single new Covid-19 case, and actually that can’t be the measure of success for the Government.”

Joyce says the capacity of the economy is being drained for “head-scratching reasons”.

He says it’s not just a matter of moving to level one but the Government needs to encourage people to go outside – and get back to offices.

“We need the economy to be robust as soon as it possibly can, and I think that’s what’s missing at the moment.”

The government shouldn’t waste any political capital postponing the movement down a level by even a day or two.

Whatever the announcement about moving, there is no social licence for a delay and people are going to move to level 1.


Quotes of the month

29/02/2020

Hallelujah! A victory for sanity and the reasonable belief of most New Zealanders that personal mobility in the form of cars, trucks and motorbikes will continue to be the norm well into the future, even as the fuel that drives those vehicles radically changes for the better. – Steven Joyce

When they’re older, Anahera and Māia can look at that image knowing they are descendants of the Māori chief in it and the English-born photographer who took it. However, I hope they will recognise the multifaceted aspects of their whakapapa and understand they are first and foremost themselves – individuals who have the freedom to determine their own paths in life without being constrained by historical events that occurred before they were born.

That’s right, none of us was there when the treaty was signed, nor were we there when some of our ancestors stole land from some of our other ancestors, and I’m talking about my Māori ancestors – don’t get me started on the Pākehā ones. Complicated isn’t it? And, no, I’m not proposing “we are one people”, aka Hobson’s Pledge. How about “we are individuals”?Steve Elers

It’s customary these days to criticise politics as too tribal but, the case of the New Zealand Labour Party, at least, it’s the wrong analogy: in practice, it’s less tribe than sect.

Whereas tribes tend to protect their own, and forgive individual sins in service of the collective good, a sect is unforgiving of perceived heretics. Shane Te Pou

Children in arts-rich schools do significantly better at the basics than schools which focus on measuring literacy and numeracy outcomes. The arts build the key skills that employers value most highly: risk taking, collaboration, curiosity and an ability to think across rather than in disciplinary silos.

The arts train the imagination. The imagination is vital for individual and social well-being because we can only make our own and others’ lives better if we can imagine a different, a better world. The arts are carriers of hope, and young people need hope like a fish needs unpolluted water.

When schools deny children the arts, they deny them their imagination. We know the arts train us to think critically, to see things in different and multiple ways, that creativity is part of the puzzle of making democracy work. Education systems that train children how to answer questions rather than question answers leads us into the traps of demagogues and their easy recipes. –  Peter O’Connor

But the point is most Kiwis – most humans – want to earn what they own, not take it from those who already have it. – Kerre McIvor

We’ve become so consumed by climate change, we’ve lost the ability to think rationally. Which is why everyone is running around panicking about Huawei and no one is wondering about a much bigger problem: where their next sandwich is coming from. – Jeremy Clarkson

I’ve said many times before I’m proud of my whakapapa, I’m proud of my English, my British heritage. Ultimately… I’m a New Zealander first and foremost … if I think about Waitangi Day, what I see is a day that yes, that is historic in its significance but is ultimately, at its most basic, about good relations between New Zealanders. – Simon Bridges

For whereas the Left generally prefers to discharge its moral obligation to others through the transformation of society, the Right — sceptical of the grand plan — prefers to discharge it through particular acts of individual kindness and practical generosity.  Though not ever believing that such acts will totally change the world, the Right fights back against the darkness nonetheless, little by little and at local level. Without the showy drama of the revolutionary, the Conservative responds on the human scale, organically.Giles Fraser

Which is all a long and convoluted way of saying that lamenting Waitangi Day for not being a day of national unity misses the point. There are many great things about our country’s history that we can celebrate in an unadulterated way, but the events and subsequent history of Waitangi do not lend themselves to that. They are occasions for introspection, discussion and – yes – argument.

And there’s nothing wrong with having one day in the year for that.  – Liam Hehir

In fact, it’s a stretch to call the arts a “community”. In politics, a community tends to be defined, however broadly, in terms of its interests. Those interests could be based on geography, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, or economic imperatives. The arts are a community more in the sense of the Balkans after the fall of communism – an intractable, internecine turf war based on ancient and obscure grudges. – Ben Thomas

We need people to see that this is not Paharakeke (Flaxmere) , this is not what we do behind closed doors. And to bring the mana back, the aroha back, because unfortunately, from what’s happened to that baby, it’s just gone and broken. – Lynsey Abbott

If there is a solution, it cannot be legislated. If there is a solution you won’t find it in Wellington. If there is a solution, you won’t find it in council … we need to take a look in the mirror.Henare O’Keefe

Paharakeke deserves better, Flaxmere families deserve better. Each and every one of us deserves better. . . Whānau isn’t harden up, it isn’t hide. It’s open up, share. It’s where you be vulnerable. If we can change our family unit, we change our community.  – Michael Ngahuka

The city of sails? Sadly no, the city of fails . . . in a world of work-life balance, it’s all work, little balance.Mike Hosking

In a zinger that already sounds dated the ascendant John Key described Clark and Cullen’s administration as “a Walkman government in an iPod world.” As Ardern and Robertson consider the influence of their former employers and political forebears, they may think Key was being too kind: the ghosts of the fifth Labour government are still firmly tuned in to the wireless. – Ben Thomas

I don’t think New Zealand as a whole has particularly valued research in science and therefore things like opportunities and funding and chances to grow are really quite limited in this country. – Professor Jane Harding

Kids will do better when the adults and the country they live in does better. – Lindsay Mitchell

You can recover from an economic recession, but you can’t recover from a President who thinks the job of the Justice Department is to only apply the law to his political opponents.David Farrar

I am no right-winger, but I find myself unusually in the space occupied by the right – that is, I cannot fathom how property rights can be trampled on in this way, nor how Labour and the Greens can tolerate it. – Sue Bradford

The Washington Post observed after Ardern hobnobbed with the wealthy worthy in Davos that, while many were enthralled, ­others saw the NZ PM as being cut from the same poseur cloth as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, only less annoying and with an easier country to run. – Graham Lloyd

But let me be really clear: we cannot afford to panic. When we panic, we actively harm our ability to respond to difficult situations. So, let’s stay calm and start preparing. What happens in the months to come is going to depend on how we all behave. Siouxsie Wiles


Why not more of what works?

24/02/2020

Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, visited New Zealand and left us with several recommendations including a rent freeze and capital gains tax.

I have yet to see or hear what the visit cost us, but the government that invited her, could have saved all that by asking Steven Joyce who has much better recommendations

. . . Before we embark on another “housing crisis” complete with politically partisan policy ideas that turn out to be mirages (come on down Kiwibuild), let’s have a look at all the housing policy changes that have occurred over the last decade and assess what practical lessons they provide about the New Zealand housing market.

The first is that land supply is hugely important if you want to build more houses.  . .

The price of houses is a reflection of demand outstripping supply and one of the reasons for that is restrictions on where people can build and the cost of developing new areas for housing.

The premier case study on land availability is post-earthquake Christchurch. Pre-earthquake the local councils developed a “smart growth” plan where they agreed what land around the city would be released for housing progressively over the next thirty years. Then, alongside the lives tragically lost in the earthquakes, massive numbers of houses were made uninhabitable virtually overnight.

After the quakes, amid dire predictions of skyrocketing house prices, Gerry Brownlee took the radical decision to release the whole thirty years of land at once. There was much sucking of teeth at local and central government, but it was the right call.

As the result of competition amongst developers tens of thousands of Christchurch families were able to use their insurance payouts and reasonably priced new home and land packages to successfully re-establish themselves. Christchurch house prices have since been some of the most reasonable in New Zealand. 

The second lesson is about the availability of finance. The Global Financial Crisis dried up bank finance and laid waste to non-bank lenders. The lack of finance for new builds crippled the building market and it took years to recover. That’s a cautionary tale for the Reserve Bank, whose heroic new bank capital ratios will reduce available bank finance, albeit more gradually than previously proposed.

The more banks have to hold, the less they will have to lend and the more expensive the lending will be.

The third, and arguably biggest lesson from the last decade is the now obvious role low interest rates play in driving high house prices, and indeed all asset prices. Every time interest rates have got ridiculously low, house prices have shot through the roof as people bid up prices to the limits of the mortgage they can now afford. This price inflation seems fine if you already own a house, but it perpetuates the wealth gap between those that own houses and those that don’t.

Lower interest rates allow people to afford bigger mortgages, that enables them to pay more for houses and that feeds price increases.

Ultra-low interest rates are driven by governments worldwide contracting out wider economic management to central banks, which then have to compensate for poor microeconomic policies flattening growth. You might not think an oil and gas exploration ban, poor quality government spending, and backward-looking employment policies lead to ever higher house prices, but indirectly they do.

There are lessons out of the rental housing and social housing markets. It is crazy to persist with a single monopoly state housing provider when it has never in its history managed to successfully meet the demand for social housing. It’s also not sensible to let one person have the same state house for life irrespective of changes in their family and personal circumstances. The rapidly growing social housing waiting lists compared to two years ago provide the evidence there. . . 

How can a government that cares let a couple or single person occupy a house with multiple bedrooms while families with several children are homeless?

Then there’s the added compliance requirements and accompanying costs that lead to fewer rentals.

That’s not to say never change anything about residential tenancies, but perhaps don’t whack landlords with a dozen negative changes over, say, three years.

To make housing more affordable, the last decade’s experiences tell us to greatly increase land supply, ensure a ready supply of build finance, put less pressure on the Reserve Bank to lower interest rates to keep the economy going, enlist community and NGO help in supplying social housing, and stop treating the vast bulk of residential landlords like they are pariahs. Oh, and forget a more punitive capital gains tax – countries with one of those have the same skyrocketing house prices as we’ve had.

There are valid arguments for a capital gains tax but reining in house prices isn’t one of them.

If CGTs haven’t worked anywhere else, there is no reason to expect they’d work here.

The high cost of housing is a major factor in poverty and all the problems that stem from that.

Why did the government waste money on the UN expert whose recommendations wouldn’t work, when a local one has a much better recipe that would work?