Sunday, September 29, 2013

Mike Butler: Reports steam up global warmers

Australia’s new Prime Minister Tony Abbott sacked Australia's Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery, on an A$180,000 a year working a three-day-a-week job, and put paid to Australia's Climate Commission, a multi-million dollar, allegedly "independent", propaganda outlet set up by Julia Gillard to help give her climate alarmist policies a veneer of scientific credibility. A drop of Abbott's realism would be helpful here in New Zealand. (1)

Mike Butler: Self-interest hobbles forestry trust

The organisation which funds Maori lodging Treaty of Waitangi claims over Crown forests remains unable to fulfil its obligations because of High Court action by a trustee, Sir Eddie Durie, supported by fellow trustee Maanu Paul, and one of the trust’s appointors, the New Zealand Maori Council. This boardroom stoush offers a snapshot of treaty industry politics.

Ron Smith: The Iranian Nuclear Weapon Programme

The foreign ministers of the permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany (the P5+1), met in New York with the foreign minister of Iran to initiate a series of meetings, to address what various Iranian spokespersons have called ‘misunderstandings’ over that country’s nuclear programme.  They propose to continue the talks in Geneva at foreign minister level, beginning on 15 October.  So what, realistically, are the prospects of success for these meetings?

Bryce Edwards: Politics Roundup - who's killing local government?

A million eligible voters chose not to vote in the last general election, resulting in the lowest voter turnout in 126 years. Will we see a record low turnout in the current local government elections? It's likely that up to two million eligible voters will reject the option of participating, which will raise further questions about the decline of democracy in New Zealand, especially at the local level. This poor regard for local elections is nicely satirised today by Ben Uffindell's blogpost on The Civilian: Nation gears up for October practice elections. He mocks the low status given to these elections, suggesting they are little more than pretend candidates chasing after pretend votes and serve no other purpose than giving voters a chance to practice prior to the real (general) election next year.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Lindsay Mitchell: Don't let Labour near welfare ever again

When he was Minister for Social Development Steve Maharey repeatedly said or wrote that the average duration on the DPB was 3 and a half years.

During that period I challenged him on that figure. It didn't ring true when pitted against overseas research. It took no account of people leaving the DPB and resuming - a common occurrence. And it wasn't a product of point-in-time data.

Mike Butler: Maori breaching treaty principles

The New Zealand Maori Council has gone to the Waitangi Tribunal to get a report to say that a current review into the Maori Community Development Act 1962, announced last month by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples, "is inconsistent with the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi". Maori Council lawyer Donna Hall said the process was all Crown tikanga, adding "there's no council presence in there anywhere".(1)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mike Butler: Whanau Ora money trail elusive

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters this week tried to find out from Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia whether she handed out cash to Maori social service providers to help them prepare bids to become commissioning agents for the Whanau Ora scheme.

The government’s Maori department, Te Puni Kokiri, is running a process to appoint non-government organisations as commissioning agents who will allocate Whanau Ora funding to providers of health and social service providers.

Mike Butler: Criticism rattles iwi leader

It was surprising to see "elected iwi leader" Haami Piripi get rattled and descend into threats and name-calling in a letter to the Northland Age over Muriel Newman's article published in that newspaper calling into question an iwi leader’s demand for dedicated seats on the Northland council instead of being prepared to campaign for them like everyone else.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mike Butler: White, racist, guilty

A study into attitudes towards ethnicity among year-nine pupils at five Auckland multi-ethnic schools shows the results of 30 years of race-based affirmative action. While international research has shown dominant cultures feel positive about their identity, which linked to how well they did at school, here, it was the opposite.

The Auckland University study published in the New Zealand Journal of Psychology involved 695 pupils at schools with decile rankings ranging from three to nine who were asked anonymously to describe what they liked or disliked about being Maori, New Zealand European, Chinese or Samoan.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Jeremy Sammut: Affordable health and ageing policy in Singapore

The Abbott government's decision to trim minister's titles has been criticised by commentators concerned that important issues, like population ageing, are no longer clearly tagged as portfolio responsibilities.

There is no doubting the policy challenges posed by the unprecedented ageing of the population in areas such as health and aged care. However, critics of the decision not to a have a designated 'Minister for Ageing' ignore the much bigger issue. The ability of governments to address ageing depends on the fiscal capacity to undertake ageing-related initiatives. Some countries are better equipped financially to do so than others.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Matt Ridley: Dialling back the alarm on climate change

Global warming could be a net benefit during this century. 
Later this month, a long-awaited event that last happened in 2007 will recur. Like a returning comet, it will be taken to portend ominous happenings. I refer to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) "fifth assessment report," part of which will be published on Sept. 27.

There have already been leaks from this 31-page document, which summarizes 1,914 pages of scientific discussion, but thanks to a senior climate scientist, I have had a glimpse of the key prediction at the heart of the document. The big news is that, for the first time since these reports started coming out in 1990, the new one dials back the alarm. It states that the temperature rise we can expect as a result of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide is lower than the IPPC thought in 2007.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ron Smith: Tacking and Jibing with Chemical Weapons

For sports fans, events in San Francisco Bay over the last few weeks have been absolutely riveting, with every tack and jibe analysed.  For political junkies, the public sparring between Presidents Putin and Obama has been equally compelling.  The jaunt has been especially interesting of late for a sequence of completely unpredicted moves.  After a longish period of studied insults and put-downs from Putin, which were only feebly defended by Obama, we suddenly had the totally unexpected: the impossible tack!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mike Butler: Ice increase riles global warmers

Six years ago, the BBC cited climate scientists in predicting that the Arctic would be ice-free in (the northern) summer by 2013. Instead, Arctic ice now covers nearly a million more square miles of ocean than in August 2012 — an increase of 60 percent. This has led Britain's Mail on Sunday to report:
"Some eminent scientists now believe the world is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of the century — a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading."

Matt Ridley: Falling population, more wilderness in 2100

Sir David Attenborough's pessimism is misplaced. Publicising his imminent new series about the evolution of animals, Sir David Attenborough said in an interview this week that he thought a reduction in human population during this century is impossible and “we’re lucky to be living when we are, because things are going to get worse”. People will look back in another 100 years “at a world that was less crowded, full of natural wonders, and healthier”.

His is a common view and one I used to share. He longs for people to enjoy the open spaces and abundant herds of game that he has been fortunate enough to see. To that end he thinks it vital that there should be fewer of us.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mike Butler: Early Maori pillaged nature

The guardianship argument is still being used by the Maori Party despite overwhelming evidence that early Maori burned about half of the forest that covered the South Island in a reckless quest for food. An article in the Wanganui Chronicle on Thursday with Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia’s byline on it voiced opposition to proposed changes to the Resource Management Act partly because they “undermine the role of Maori as tangata tiaki of their traditional rohe”.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mike Butler: Green plan to cut home values

Co-leader Metiria Turei said the Green Party wants to make sure house prices fall so young families could afford to buy a home but appears unaware of the impact of a house-price decline on young families who have already bought a home. When asked by presenter Duncan Garner in a debate on housing aired on TV3’s The Vote on Wednesday night whether she would like to see house prices fall, Turei said:
“Yes, actually we would like to make sure that they fall . . oh shocked looks on their faces . . oh dear, how terrible that young families could actually afford to buy a home.”
When Garner followed up by saying: “You want house prices to fall. That means some families would have negative equity which would be an economic disaster for New Zealand”, Turei said “that’s right”, adding:
“that means that those holding onto the wealth now will have to be prepared to let some of it go”
This is the latest in a series of Green Party policy gaffes:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Karl du Fresne: Abbott had the last laugh

Right to the very end – even after he had convincingly won the Australian election, dealing his Labor opponents their most crushing defeat in a century – some of the Australian media continued to treat prime minister-elect Tony Abbott as a figure of ridicule.
In fact one of the most striking aspects of the election across the Tasman is that it demonstrated very clearly the extent to which the Australian media have become politicised. It also showed, not for the first time, how out of touch Australian political journalists are with the public they supposedly serve.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ron Smith: All Quiet on the Egyptian Front

With Syria dominating the news from the Middle East, there has been relatively little news in the main-stream media about what might be happening in other places of earlier great interest, such as Tunisia, Libya, and, particularly, Egypt.  Of course, there have been some incidents that have commanded attention, such as the occasional arrests of the remaining Muslim Brotherhood leadership, following the violent suppression of the anti-coup protests, and the recent events in the northern Sinai in which Brotherhood activists, supported by Hamas from Gaza, captured a busload of Egyptian police officers and executed them one by one.  This was swiftly followed by an Egyptian military operation which resulted in the death of most of those responsible.  Other than these events (and the very recent assassination attempt on the Egyptian Interior Minister) Egypt has been relatively quiet since the protests following the overthrow of President Morsi, nearly two months ago.

Mike Butler: Syria needs liberal capitalism, not missiles

Syria needs liberal capitalism rather than missiles, according to analysis printed during the week in The Telegraph in London. Allister Heath, who is editor of City A.M., a digital daily business newspaper distributed around London, writes in his weekly Telegraph column:
The economic backdrop to the Arab Spring debacle and now Syria’s barbaric civil war is equally self-evident. With only a small number of exceptions, states in the region have long specialised in economic failure of the most abject kind, seemingly competing to become the most shocking case study in how to squander oil money, ruin a nation’s economy and keep ordinary people impoverished.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Robert Carling: An economic rationalist's guide to the Australian election

Just as the truth is the first casualty of war, principled policy is the first casualty of election campaigns. Even in Australia's era of 'economic rationalism' that ended a long time ago, the economic dries took a back seat role during election campaigns (the Hewson-led Liberal campaign of 1993 being the exception). In the 2013 campaign, however, the dries are not just in the back seat but locked away in the boot, and it is not at all clear that they will be allowed out after the election regardless of who wins.

Economic rationalism cannot be tightly defined, but broadly speaking it is a set of beliefs in free markets and the price mechanism; a minimum of regulation; openness to trade and investment; raising government revenue through broad-based and neutral taxation; subjecting public investment proposals to rigorous cost-benefit analysis; and wrapping all of this in fiscal discipline.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bryce Edwards: NZ Politics daily

New Zealanders could be forgiven for not realising that Australians go the polls tomorrow following a marathon, and sometimes farcical, election campaign. This is because there’s been very little coverage or awareness of the campaign in New Zealand, as was pointed out by one Australian newspaper report yesterday which said ‘The campaign noise that's been blaring at Australians for weeks doesn't ring quite as loud across the ditch - which could be a blessing for those voting in New Zealand’ – see Elise Scott’s Aussies cast their votes in New Zealand. Another Australian-based New Zealand blogger has also complained that ‘You wouldn't know an election was being held if you relied on the NZ media’ – see: Australian election ignored by NZ media

The main issues of importance to New Zealanders are New Zealand ex-pat rights in Australia, the Australian economy and refugee policies. However, with the Liberals looking almost certain to win tomorrow, an extra focus in New Zealand is likely to be on the fact that the rightwing Liberal leader Tony Abbott is married to a New Zealander.

Frank Newman: Frugality and home ownership

Virtually every day I see news items reporting a tale of woe about unfortunate wannabe first home buyers being deprived of the right to do so; and it’s always someone else’s fault. I personally don’t buy into that negativity and blame game. In my view houses are affordable, and more so in provincial New Zealand.

I addressed this issue in a recent column about living off the smell of an oily rag. People usually have a bit of a chuckle about frugality and dismiss it a little like they would buying a black and white TV – it was something a previous generation did, before cell phones were invented and before Facebook (Fb) joined the Periodic Table of Elements.