Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mike Butler: Water claim still going strong

A crucial Supreme Court victory for the government over the New Zealand Maori Council that cleared the final hurdle for its part-privatisation policy does not mean the end of Maori claims for water. It just meant the end of the Maori Council's case that the sale of shares in Mighty River was a breach of the Treaty of Waitangi because it would affect the Government's ability to make redress for Maori rights and interests in water.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reuben Chapple: Poverty Pimps

The usual bunch of economically illiterate poverty pimps recently hit the headlines demanding an $18 - $20 per hour “living wage” based on what they claim people “ought” to be paid. They do not say how this is to be accomplished, but above-market wages can only be achieved by government intervention: either legislating a higher minimum wage, or by raising taxes on those who have earned their money, in order to transfer it to those who have not.

ICRP: Independent constitution group invites submissions

Independent constitution group invites submissions

Submissions on New Zealand’s constitutional future may be made to the Independent Constitutional Review Panel, chair David Round said today. The independent panel has opened submissions because the government’s official Constitutional Advisory Panel (CAP), which begins receiving public submissions this week, has consulted mainly with Maori, with the general public largely unaware of its existence.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mike Butler: Dodgy deals and the twisted treaty

Did John Key do a deal with the Maori Party involving repeal of the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 before the 2008 election and not breathe a word of it during the campaign? Part of one chapter in Twisting the treaty – a tribal grab for wealth and power, published last week, says just that.

Mike Butler: Tangled Maori spectrum web

Look at the tangled web behind the government’s rejection of a claim by Maori for a share of the 700MHz spectrum, and the $30-million information and communications technology fund, offered to Maori only.(1) Why should ICT Minister Amy Adams offer a $30-million ''ICT development fund'' to Maori and not to everyone? The answer is that there is a well-developed Maori lobby for spectrum ownership, and an equally well-developed government counter-group made up of, let us say, policy entrepreneurs.

Frank Newman: There is no housing affordability crisis

A lot of information and misinformation has been circulating about housing affordability, so I thought it worth going back into the archives and putting some numbers around the talk. The question is, are houses more or less affordable that they were, say, 15 years ago? The first common measure of housing affordability is to express the cost as the number of years it would take a household earning an average income to buy an average house.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tom Johnson: All Blacks model a united NZ

Iconic All Black captain Sir Wilson Whineray wrote of our top rugby team that “No other institution has done so much to cross social, religious, racial, cultural and economic boundaries so comprehensively and with so little pretence…where else do Pākehā and Polynesian find such natural affinity…what has the game meant to the pride of Maori people whose people have always played the game so magnificently.”(1) It is amazing how a cultural artifact like rugby can achieve racial tolerance and goodwill that the stupidity of successive governments and the greed and hegemonic aspirations of elite groups tear asunder in their blind obsession for power and privilege.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ron Smith: War and Civilians

On 17 February, President Hamid Karzai issued a widely-reported decree banning Afghan security forces from requesting coalition air-strikes on ‘Afghan homes or villages’.  This followed the reported deaths of 10 civilians in an airstrike a week earlier on a village in eastern Afghanistan.  It is also in the wake of an ISAF tactical directive of June last year, which forbade international forces from using airstrikes against insurgents ‘within civilian dwellings’.  The Karzai statement was well-received in Afghanistan and in the western media and, particularly (one suspects), by the Taliban and their supporters.  But is it really as simple as this?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Richard Epstein: The Boy Scouts Dilemma

Rather than be ripped apart over admitting gay people, the Boy Scouts should split in two. 

Last week, a deeply divided Boy Scouts of America (BSA) opted to delay its decision about whether to admit gays into its ranks until May. The decision, which I recently discussed with the Wall Street Journal, should come as no surprise. The delay is the first line of defense against an internal bloodletting. In the short term, delay allows a fragile coalition to buy time to forge a compromise by acquiring new information and considering fresh proposals that will help the organization stay together.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Eric Crampton: Coroner recommends

Search Google NZ for "Coroner recommends" and you'll find:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mike Butler: Treaty troughers revealed

A Crown Treaty negotiator has pocketed $1.5-million, another more than $1m and several others large six-figure sums according to information released in response to detailed questioning by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson revealed that $5.5-million has been paid to 14 individuals since 2008, several of them former Cabinet ministers and MPs.

Mike Butler: Any worker can own a home

Any worker can own a home, according to the NZ Property Investors’ Federation, which has released a Home Affordability Planning Calculator. Federation president Andrew King said "housing has been deemed unaffordable so often that it is now considered a fact". King criticised the ratio of house prices to incomes, which currently stands at 5.4, with 3 being the proposed ideal level, as a crude measure of housing affordability as it doesn’t take account of historic low interest rates and does not include Government subsidies and grants.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Jeremy Sammut: Victorian revival highlights lost ground on child welfare

Compulsory school attendance was introduced in Australia during the Victorian era in the later-nineteenth century. The Victorians were the first to recognise that the state had a role to play in promoting child welfare by requiring parents to ensure that their children received a minimum level of schooling. This was part of a broader movement to encourage respectable standards of behaviour by people of all classes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Karl du Fresne: Separatism alive and well in the health system

The steady creep toward separatism continues. In a recent advertisement seeking a new chief executive for the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, the preamble stated that [the] NZNO “embraces Te Tiriti O Waitangi”. It went on to explain: “Te Runanga o Aotearoa comprising our Maori membership is the arm through which our Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership is articulated”.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Stephen Franks: 4 year term for Parliament?

I've been asked what I think of extending the Parliamentary term. 4 years would be better for many reasons. It would enable politicians to do necessary things that need more than three years to prove themselves. But what would they actually use it for? In a campaign for lengthening the term they should be asked what they could do in four years that they can't do in three. But who will have the courage to float examples? The examples will be contentious, and recycled as a threat to floating voters at the next election. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ron Smith: DPRK: Would they actually do it

For a number of years around the turn of this century, I was a member of an international group that brought together academic and official persons to discuss nuclear security problems in the Asia-Pacific region.  It was part of a wider project to reduce tension and build confidence, which worked in parallel with formal diplomatic meetings.  Apart from technical persons, it also included diplomats, but because of its relative informality, it tended to be referred to as ‘Track Two’.

Mike Butler: Waitangi up close and personal

The melodramas of Waitangi Day 2013 are fading fast, thankfully, but since I was there to witness this year’s storm in a Tiriti-cup, I can offer some observations. For instance, why should a prime minister, any prime minister, feel obligated to spend 1hr40mins to travel 861km to Waitangi, perhaps stay overnight, and spend another 1hr40mins traveling 1km from the Copthorne or the Kingsgate to face all manner of insults from the ragtag bunch of revellers at the rickety Te Tiriti o Waitangi marae?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kevin Donnelly: We can learn from Finland and Sweden

What is the most effective way to raise education standards? Given Julia Gillard's argument that we need to "take a giant leap forward in education" and her promise, most recently reiterated in a letter in News Limited tabloids on Sunday, to put Australia among the top five schooling systems by 2025, the question is more than academic. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Fiona Mackenzie: Bullies Cleverly Shut Down Debate

Identity politics is a pervasive trend. The extent of it in promoting political causes and preventing freedom of speech was recently brought to my attention by an excellent article in The Australian newspaper - “Stifled by the Party Line” by Dan Ryan (30/1/13). Having lived in China, Mr Ryan compared the way the Chinese Communist Party squashes criticism with the techniques used by other groups to shut down intelligent debate.

Elizabeth Rata: The treaty is not New Zealand’s founding document

I was surprised to read in Deborah Coddington’s recent Herald column that the Treaty of Waitangi is New Zealand’s founding document. Of course some New Zealanders mistakenly believe that is the case. Where the belief becomes a problem is when a member of the government appointed and funded Constitutional Advisory Panel such as Deborah Coddington states that this is so. In describing the treaty as our founding document she has jumped the gun somewhat in anticipating the Panel’s recommendations about the status of the treaty. And she is certainly premature in gauging New Zealanders’ opinions on the subject.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Mike Butler: National’s $1b treaty spend-up

An update of Treaty Transparency, published at this week, shows the extent of treaty settlement generosity under the current National Party-led government. John Key’s government has signed up and mostly transferred a total amount $1.07-billion since 2008. At Ratana marae in late January, Key unwittingly clarified his view of his historical redress haste -- treaty settlements are to buy votes.