Quotes of the month

01/11/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So where did we go so wrong?

I blame a trend I’ll call performative policymaking.

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

Our own Government was an early adopter.

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

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

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

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

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

But times are a-changing again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Time for change.Darroch Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For bragging rights.Heather du Plessis-Allan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Breanna McKee

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

However there is not.  – Liberty Scott 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is even worse than it sounds.  – Chris Trotter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think demand was driven largely by expectation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be a woman who stands up for women.Rachel Smalley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to the world of government. – Brent Edwards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Kelvin Davis used Question Time to say that I view the world through a “pakeha lens” it was nothing I haven’t heard before: “You’re a whakapapa Māori but you’re not kaupapa Māori”; “You’re a plastic Māori”; “You’re a born-again Māori”. It just comes with the territory of being a Māori woman who doesn’t always fit the left’s comfortable stereotype.

Problem is, I don’t think Kelvin is the only Labour minister who thinks what he said. The others might be smarter at hiding it, but they also worship identity politics.

They believe that who you are can matter more than what you do or say. How do I know this? That attitude is all through the policies they promote. Oranga Tamariki, the area I was asking Kelvin about when he made his comments, is just one example. – Karen Chhour

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

In fairness to Oranga Tamariki, it was following the law, something called Section 7AA of the Oranga Tamariki Act. Section 7AA means the chief executive of Oranga Tamariki has to consider the Treaty when making decisions.

Sure, 7AA may be well-intentioned. But it creates a conflict between protecting the best interests of the child and race-based factors enshrined in 7AA. This conflict has the potential to cause real harm to our children. – Karen Chhour

Since my Member’s Bill was drawn, I have been called a racist. If anything, the opposite is true. My Bill will make Oranga Tamariki colour-blind. It will have to focus on all of the factors that a child needs, instead of placing race at the centre of their decision-making.

When this Bill comes up for the first reading in Parliament, the predictable and tiresome responses will come from the Labour Party, the Māori Party, and the Greens.

I ask them, before they vote this down, to think about Mary and what was best for her. A family who loved and cared for her? Or returning to her abusers?

Mary’s foster parents traced their family tree back far enough that they could find enough of a link to say they were Māori. This twist also shows how bizarre the law is, Mary’s foster parents are the same people, but something that happened centuries before they were born made it okay for them to parent.

Mary still lives with them. She has come out of her shell, she is doing well at school, she has a home for life where she is safe and is thriving. Thank goodness for that branch they found on the family tree, or Mary’s story might have been very different.

I can only hope that my Bill gets a fair hearing because another child might not be so lucky. – Karen Chhour 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Quotes of the month

02/05/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is, until now. – Muriel Newman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FPAs are a solution looking for a problem.Levi Gibbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We should not casually throw it away.Paul Goldsmith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The formidable task of acquiring even a small amount of humanity’s intellectual canon is made even more complex and remote because abstractions are only available to us as symbols – verbal, alphabetical, numerical, musical, digital, chemical, mathematical – creating two layers of difficulty. While it is unsurprising that the much easier education using practices derived from action rather than abstraction is more attractive, to take this path, as teachers are required to do, is a mistake.

We humans are made intelligent through long-term systematic engagement with such complex knowledge. Yet decolonisers reject the fundamental difference between science and culture claiming instead that all knowledge is culturally produced, informed by a group’s beliefs and experiences, and geared to its interests. Indigenous knowledge and ‘western’ knowledge are simply cultural systems with academic education re-defined as the oppressive imposition of the latter on the former.

What is deeply concerning is the extent to which this ideology is believed by those in education and uncritically repeated in mainstream media.  – Elizabeth Rata

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

What about the proto-science (pre-science) in all traditional knowledge – such as traditional navigation, medicinal remedies, and food preservation? This knowledge, acquired through observation and trial and error, as well as through supernatural explanation, along with the ways it may have helped to advance scientific or technological knowledge, is better placed in history of science lessons rather than in the science curriculum.

Science provides naturalistic explanations for physical and social phenomena. Its concepts refer to the theorised structures and properties of the physical world, its methods are those of hypothesis, testing and refutation, its procedures those of criticism and judgement.  The inclusion of cultural knowledge into the science curriculum will subvert the fundamental distinction, one acknowledged by mātauranga Māori scholars, between naturalistic science and supernaturalistic culture.Elizabeth Rata

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

Unlike authoritarian regimes, liberalism can tolerate some dissent. What it cannot tolerate is the removal of its very foundations – those principles of universalism and secularism that anchor democratic institutions into modern pluralist society. The separation of public and private, of society and community, makes room for both science and local culture. (The recent commonplace practice of using ‘community’ for ‘society’ is one of a number of indications that the separation is being undermined.) Valuing culture and devaluing science in a merger of the two fatally undermines the universalism and secularism that creates and maintains a cohesive society out of many ethnicities and cultures.

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

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

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

Which brings us cheerfully to our friendly “be kind”, “listen to the science”, “we’re so transparent” Ardern-Robertson government, which seems to be now acting like a “friend” who would like you to look the other way, so it can get on with what’s good for it, such as getting re-elected. – Kevin Norquay

In 2022 NZ, it’s starting to look more like “of the people, by the party, for the party.” Kevin Norquay

“Listening to the science” now carries a taint, as decisions made could be seen as party political, rather than public health related.

It’s an erosion of trust. Why cover up things that are supposedly done in our best interest? – Kevin Norquay

There’s that “friend” again, telling us all the secrecy was for our own good. Whether MIQ did a good job is not the point here, it’s when that good job might have ended.

You could argue “we listen to the science” remains accurate, with the coda “but our decisions are based on the politics”, but transparency was always a fiction written boldly on a blocking PR wall.

What’s the next slogan: “You’ve got to be cruel to Be Kind?”Kevin Norquay

The truth of Hōne Heke’s rebellion deserves to be more widely-known. His  was the beginning of a proud lineage of anti-tax protest that is today carried on by the Taxpayers’ Union (even if we prefer to use arguments over axes). So congratulations to Hōne Heke for rightfully being recognised as one of the greatest New Zealanders. If it were up to us, he might even be ranked number one. How many taxes did Sir Ed cut, after all? – Louis Holubrooke

You don’t want to live in fear but I’m not going to be blasé about it. We are seeing very sick people every day, it’s not worth the risk at the moment. The more I read, the more bad things I find that this virus can do to your body, particularly your brain. You hear people say ‘might as well get it over with’. Well I wouldn’t want to voluntarily risk taking on a bit of brain damage for any reason.Dr Greg White

Whatever New Zealand does in isolation as its contribution to the world wide battle against climate change, it will have next to zero affect on whether or not we reach or even get close to the IPCC’s greenhouse gas emissions reductions that they say will be required to save the planet.

I can make that statement with confidence that l will be proved right simply because those key nations who have the capacity to collectively turn things around, with or without our help, are in fact increasing their use of fossil fuels at an alarming rate and as a result, increasing their emissions as if there was no tomorrow. In that context, our efforts, no matter how self sacrificial, will be like a blip on the radar as the rest of the world continues to condone the destructive activities of those who could and should be making a difference. – Clive Bibby 

We will watch on from the sidelines seemingly unnoticed by even the UN heavy hitters whose praise we appear to crave.

And in the meantime, we will destroy what remains of our agriculturally based economy at a time when we are emerging from the pandemic suffering from self inflicted wounds that already have reduced our capacity to earn overseas funds when we most need them. Clive Bibby 

It appears that the government is still hell bent on cementing in place policies that will negatively effect the two most important ingredients that will determine our survival as a sovereign state.

The first is economic growth and the second is race relations, both of which are in danger of managed decline because both are reflecting the deliberate implementation of programmes that will have the opposite effect of what is needed now more than ever.

If allowed to be fully implemented, these policies: – the emissions reduction policies such as the halving of our dairy herds and the race based legislation that is being un-necessarily promoted giving control of our natural resources to Maori – have the capacity to propel a sufficiently divided nation into a state where civil war is a serious possibility. – Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

I choose my words carefully when discussing these potentially dangerous policies simply because it appears we are not yet prepared to acknowledge that the immediate danger to our collective future comes from within rather than anything from the world at large – including climate change.

In order to have a rational discussion about our future, we need to be acutely aware of the options available to us. In that context, the truth remains our only hope.

We can and must stop this erosion of trust before it is too late. Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby  Clive Bibby 

But if I could go back in time and find a doctor who made me feel like they were treating my health, and not my size, that would have been a real gamechanger. – Megan Whelan

Democratic Socialist. Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction and maybe even an oxymoron?

Presiding over a government that has gone out of its way to decimate democracy by promoting the politics of division, there is nothing democratic in these actions! – John Porter

Don’t you think the way Ardern’s government, its Maori caucus and tribal leaders are surging ahead with their co-governance agenda, is pushing New Zealand close to that point of, if not actual civil war, then certainly civil disruption?

In New Zealand there is a significant degree of apathy and almost total lack of comprehension and knowledge around the subversion of democracy and promotion of Maori exclusivity that is very, very scary.

The overarching concern is that, based on ethnicity, a minority section of the population is being given an absolute right to control the rest of the population without, it appears, any limits on their power or any route for appeal. – John Porter

There is a very small group of those of part-Maori descent, Maori tribal elite, presumably swollen with self-importance because a small part of their cultural inheritance that they are clamouring for co-governance of this country. This co-governance agenda is gathering speed and, dare I say it, credibility at an alarming rate. John Porter

Ardern and her government’s separatist agenda combined with their inept fiscal management, are bringing this country to its knees!

Are we speaking out loudly, are we protecting our democracy, our rights to one person, one vote and do this government actually respect and represent the majority of New Zealanders? – John Porter

It’s either a caricature or merely a hallmark of a modern conservative New Zealand politician to be comfortable with whatever change has happened up to the present, but to think that any more would be a step too far.

This is by and large a positive. The fact that only journalists writing profiles on centre-right politicians, rather than the politicians themselves, ever want to revisit milestones like the marriage equality vote of 2013 means that the country has avoided the destabilising and counterproductive culture wars that have racked the United States for decades. – Ben Thomas

When the government spends $51 million to not build a bridge, that’s inflationary. Spending money on a new hospital that increases the provision of necessary services does not have the same effect. – Liam Hehir

There are six provisions in our law that are so important for democracy that they can only be changed by the vote of 75 percent in parliament or by a majority in a referendum. One is clause 36 of the Electoral Act that guarantees everyone regardless of race has an equal vote. – Richard Prebble

Having unequal voting will not solve Rotorua’s real issues. Here is one. The Labour government has filled our motels with the homeless from all over the Central North Island. There are enough children in our motels to fill a primary school. Borders are reopening. Where are Rotorua’s tourists to stay? – Richard Prebble

For most Westerners, the war unfolding in Ukraine makes no sense. Russians and Ukrainians look the same, speak the same languages, have lived lives that were, until very recently, culturally indistinguishable. Why are they fighting?

The chilling answer is that both sides are commanded by ghosts. It is the unquiet dead, the unpunished crimes, the gagged memories of countless perpetrators and their victims that drive these armies forward. Impulses barely understood, inherited from parents and grandparents who could neither speak about nor forget the horrors they had witnessed or performed.

Two nations to whom great evil has been done are being driven, by dead hands, to do evil in return. Chris Trotter

R for recession comes after I for inflation in the economic alphabet. Then comes v for voter and w for wallet. Get the drift? – Shane Jones

Behind the scenes, officials are working on other ways to make New Zealand less rather than more attractive to prospective students. They have plans to almost double the amount of money each student must bring to New Zealand for each year’s study, and heavily restrict post-study work rights. This is all part of the Government’s immigration re-set, more correctly called an anti-immigration re-set.Steven Joyce

If we are to avoid a recession, which is looking an increasingly difficult goal, we need to encourage more outward facing sectors to grow, rather than be always putting up new barriers to their success. International education is one of the best placed to resume pulling its weight, to the benefit of our country’s education system and the wider economy and society. The Government needs to get over its ambivalence to it. – Steven Joyce

We’ve become accustomed to hearing the words, “I support free speech, but ….” New Zealand is full of people in positions of power and influence who purport to defend free speech, but always with the addition of that loaded word “but”. You can’t say you support free speech and then, in the next breath, put limitations around it beyond the ones that are already clearly established in law and broadly accepted, such as those relating to defamation and incitement to hatred or violence.

We’ve been introduced to phrases unheard of a few years ago: cancel culture, speech wars, hate speech, gender wars, safe spaces, culture wars, trigger warnings, transphobia and no-platforming. We’ve acquired a whole new vocabulary. We’ve seen the emergence of a media monoculture in which all mainstream media outlets adopt uniform ideological positions that effectively shut out alternative opinions, even when those marginalised voices may represent mainstream opinion.

We’ve seen traditional ideological battle lines totally redrawn as people on the left and right of politics unite around the need to save freedom of speech from a new and powerful cohort of people who have co-opted the term “hate speech” as a pretext for banning any opinion that they dislike.

We’ve even seen radical feminists, who were once at the cutting edge of politics, demonised as dangerous reactionaries who must be shut down because of their opposition to a virulent transgender lobby that appeared to spring out of nowhere.

All this has happened within a remarkably short time frame. Mainstream New Zealand has been caught off guard by the sheer speed and intensity of the attack on free speech and as a result has been slow to respond. But what’s at stake here is nothing less than the survival of liberal democracy, which depends on the contest of ideas and the free and open discussion of issues regardless of whether some people might find them upsetting.Karl Du Fresne

The right of free speech, after all, means the right to hear as well as the right to speak. Our Bill of Rights Act doesn’t just talk about the right to speak freely. It refers to “the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind and in any form”. That seems pretty clear-cut and unambiguous. To deny New Zealanders the right to hear opinions that some politicians and public officials don’t like is a flagrant abuse of power and must be challenged at every turn, which is exactly what this union is doing. – Karl Du Fresne

In other words there are people in the police who apparently think that anyone who criticises the government should be watched. This is how police states begin. Fortunately in this case, wiser senior officers stepped in before things got out of hand.Karl Du Fresne

The reality is that the enemies of free speech have no fixed ideology. Control is enforced with equal brutality whether it’s Nazi Germany or communist North Korea. The only thing the enemies of free speech have in common is a desire to exercise untrammelled power and to forcibly suppress any speech which threatens that power.

As it happens, the present threat to free speech in New Zealand doesn’t come from either the traditional left or the traditional right. It comes from a powerful new cohort that largely controls the national conversation. This cohort is dominant in politics, the bureaucracy, academia and the media and regards the exercise of free speech as serving the interests of the privileged. Free speech to them means licence to attack oppressed minorities and is therefore something to be deterred, if not by law then by denunciation and intimidation.

Depressingly, this group is entrenched in universities and libraries – institutions that have traditionally served as sources of free thought and access to knowledge. Libraries were at the forefront of the effort to shut down the feminist group Speak Up For Women, which was targeted by aggressive transgender activists because it opposed legislation allowing men to identify as female. It was only after this union went to court on the feminists’ behalf that libraries in several cities were forced to back down and allow them to hold public meetings.

A common factor in these instances is the belief that people have a right not to be offended and that this right takes precedence over the right to free speech. It’s as if the woke elements in society have developed an allergic reaction to the robust democracy that most of the people in this room grew up in, where vigorous debate was seen as an essential part of the contest of ideas that democracy depends on.

If a statement can possibly be interpreted as a slur against one’s gender, race, body type or sexual identity, it will be, no matter how innocent the intention of the person who made it. Apologies will be demanded and the ritual humiliation of the transgressor inevitably follows.

The purpose is clear: it sends a message to others that they will get similar treatment if they’re bold or foolish enough to challenge ideological orthodoxy. Yet paradoxically, the same people who insist on the right not to be upset don’t hesitate to engage in vicious online gang-ups and ad hominem attacks on anyone who disagrees with them.

A recurring theme in the speech wars is the notion of safety – not safety from physical danger, which is how most people understand the term, but safety from anything that might upset people or challenge their thinking. – Karl Du Fresne

Safety, then, is a highly elastic concept – critically important for women attending abortion clinics, even if no risk of harm exists, but not a problem if those who feel threatened are white guys in suits.

The enemies of free speech are blind to the contradictions in their position. They bang on about the right to be safe but applaud aggressive and intimidating behaviour against people they don’t like. And they demand protection against hate speech while freely indulging in it themselves on Twitter and other social media platforms, their purpose being to bully people into silence.Karl Du Fresne

I can claim to be something of an authority on freedom of the press if only for the reason that I’ve written two books about it. Back then the concern was with threats to media freedom from outside sources, principally the state. But ironically we’re now in a position where I believe the New Zealand media abuse their own freedom.

They have fatally compromised their independence and their credibility by signing up to a government scheme under which they accept millions of dollars in taxpayer funding and in return commit themselves to abide by a set of ideological principles laid down by that same government.

Defenders of the Public Interest Journalism Fund justify it on the pretext that it enables the media to continue carrying out worthwhile public interest journalism at a time when the industry is financially precarious. They bristle with indignation at the suggestion that their integrity is compromised. But it is. You need only look at the projects approved for funding to grasp that this is essentially an opportunistic indoctrination project funded by taxpayers.

From a free speech standpoint, however, it’s the ideological uniformity of the media that is of even greater concern. The past two decades have seen a profound generational change in the media and a corresponding change in the industry ethos.

News outlets that previously took pride in being “broad church” – in other words, catering to and reflecting a wide range of interests and opinions – are now happy to serve as a vehicle for the prevailing ideology. They have abandoned their traditional role of trying to reflect the society they purport to serve. The playwright Arthur Miller’s definition of a good newspaper as a nation talking to itself is obsolete. The mainstream media are characterised by ideological homogeneity, reflecting the views of a woke elite and relentlessly promoting the polarising agenda of identity politics.

The implications for free speech are obvious. What was previously an important channel for the public expression of a wide range of opinions has steadily narrowed. Conservative voices are increasingly marginalised and excluded, ignoring the inconvenient fact that New Zealand has far more often voted right than left. – Karl Du Fresne

But it’s worse than that, because the prevailing ideological bias doesn’t just permeate editorials and opinion columns. Its influence can also be seen in the way the news is reported – in the stories that the media choose to cover, and perhaps more crucially in the issues they choose not to cover. The Maori co-governance proposals in Three Waters, for example.

Underlying this is another profound change. From the 1970s onward, journalism training – previously done on the job – was subject to academic capture. Many of today’s journalists were subject to highly politicised teaching that encouraged them to think their primary function was not so much to report on matters of interest and importance to the community as to challenge the institutions of power.

Principles such as objectivity were jettisoned, freeing idealistic young journalists to indulge in advocacy journalism, push pet causes and sprinkle their stories with loaded words such as racist, sexist, homophobic and misogynist. In the meantime, older journalists who adhered to traditional ideas of balance and objectivity have been methodically managed out of the industry.

Worse even than that, we now have mainstream media outlets that actively suppress stories as a matter of official editorial policy, and even boast about it. I’m thinking here of climate change, a subject on which major media organisations have collectively agreed not to give space or air time to anyone questioning global warming or even the efficacy of measures aimed at mitigating it. This would have been unthinkable 20 or even 10 years ago. People are bound to wonder what else the media are suppressing.Karl Du Fresne

Robert Muldoon was a tyrant who tried to bully the media into submission, but eventually journalists and editors stood up to him. In the past few years, however, we’ve gone backwards. We now live in a climate of authoritarianism and denunciation that chokes off the vibrant debate that sustains democracy, and tragically the media are part of the problem.

There are positive signs however, and this meeting is one of them. As I said at the start, the sheer speed and intensity of the culture wars caught the country off-guard. Ours is a fundamentally fair and decent society, eager to do the right thing and rightly wary of extremism. For a long time we stood back and allowed the assault on democratic values to proceed virtually unopposed. We were like a boxer temporarily stunned by a punch that we never saw coming.

But the fightback has begun and is steadily gaining momentum. In giddy moments of optimism I even sense that the tide might be turning in the media. Even the most cloth-eared media bosses must eventually realise they have alienated much of their core audience, as reflected in steadily declining newspaper circulation figures and in opinion surveys measuring trust in the media. – Karl Du Fresne

The risk New Zealand runs in 2023 is that the policy promises of the contending parties will be come to be seen by their respective supporters as critical to the survival of the nation. On the Right, the introduction of co-governance will be equated with the death of democracy. On the Left, a racist referendum endorsing the elimination of co-governance will be construed as an all-out assault on the Treaty of Waitangi and the indigenous people it was intended to protect.

In such circumstances, the uncompromising partisans on both sides begin to believe that if they concede defeat there will be no “next time”. At that point the cry goes out for a “continuation of politics by other means”. Bullets replace ballots, and peace ceases to be an option – for anybody.Chris Trotter


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