Saturday, January 31, 2015

Brian Gaynor: Volatile commodities set to be big news this year

The massive volatility in commodity prices, mostly price falls, was a major business story last year. There is a strong probability that commodity prices will continue to be an important story in 2015, particularly in Australia and New Zealand where commodities are significant export earners.

Crude oil prices plunged 48 per cent last year while coffee, which is the world’s second largest traded commodity, experienced a 50.5 per cent price surge.

Stephen Franks: Union cavalry charges Wellington DHB mustard gas

Wise admirals agonise about whether they’re getting ready to fight the last war they won. They know how easy it is to get better battleships after aircraft carriers have made them a liability.

But labour Unions distract their members into re-fighting battles lost decades ago, while their real enemies flow past and leave them behind for mopping up at liesure. Union ideology leaves them without the analytical tools to recognise enemies out of uniform.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mike Butler: When a council runs a business

Just two years of Hastings deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers calling the shots for Horse of the Year and the show is in trouble with expenses overtaking income and the person who created the show appears to be taking the blame.

Last week event manager Kevin Hansen was told by a reporter that Bowers, the chair of Horse of the Year (Hawke's Bay) Ltd, confirmed that she had advertised for expressions of interest from event management companies "to deliver all or part of the show from next year",

Mike Butler: Ten new coastal rights for tribes

A comment by a Mahia bach owner that tribes that win customary marine title over an area of foreshore and seabed get significant rights prompted a closer look at the Marine and Coastal Area Act. John McLean, who chaired a meeting of 120 bach owners and claimants at Mahia on January 2 found 10 rights that lucky claimant tribes can benefit from that everyone else does not have.

A further a public meeting with take place at the Napier Sailing Club at 7pm on Monday, February 2, where Dr Hugh Barr, of the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand, will explain how the Act has opened up the entire coastal area to claim by tribal groups.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mike Butler: Grievance history and the press

For those who question continued complaints about the “wicked white coloniser” in the mainstream media, the abridged letter published below shows the difficulties a reader had in getting his response to misleading claims by other letter writers in a provincial newspaper.

It became clear to the reader that the long delay in publishing his response to an opinion column that contained untrue assertions that that the intent of the newspaper was not to publish his criticism, so he sent an e-mail to the editor which to his great surprise produced results.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Frank Newman: RMA changes on way

In 1991 the Resource Management Act (RMA) was heralded as a visionary piece of legislation; one that would allow communities to enhance their future well-being while protecting what we have for future generations. Its political architects, Geoffrey Palmer and Simon Upton, were considered enlightened forward thinkers. It was also at the forefront of what would be a number of effect-based acts. In simple terms, the RMA replaced a bunch of Acts that prescribed what you could do, with one that said a landowner could do petty much anything on their property, provided the effects on the environment were no more than minor or could be avoided, remedied, or mitigated.

Time has shown those enabling visionary ideals to be fanciful and foolish hopes. The RMA has become disabling and a very large gravy train for the planning industry that has grown up around it. Even worse, the RMA has handed radical activist organisations (like the Environmental Defence Society and the government's own Department of Conservation) an effective weapon which they have cleverly utilised to promote their own anti-private property rights agendas.

Viv Forbes from Australia: Climate Alarmists turn back the Clock

Three centuries ago, the world ran on green power. Wood was used for heating and cooking, charcoal for smelting and smithing, wind or water-power for pumps mills and ships, and whale oil for lamps. People and soldiers walked or rode horses, and millions of horses and oxen pulled ploughs, wagons, coaches and artillery.

But smoke from open fires choked cities, forests were stripped of trees, most of the crops went to feed draft animals, and streets were littered with horse manure. For many people, life was “nasty, brutish and short”.

Richard Epstein from the US: Obamacare's Slow Death?

Back in 2010, President Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress took the wrong fork in the road to health care reform. To be sure, the case for some reform was very strong, given that the mixed health care system in the United States provided inferior health care at premium prices for large portions of the population. But identifying a problem does not point the way to the necessary cure. What is needed is a clear theory of what has gone wrong and why.

In this regard, there were two diametrically opposed paths for reform. The first was to double down on failed regulatory and subsidy strategies. The second was to deregulate in an effort to unleash market forces to meet the strong and persistent demand for health care services. Unfortunately, in 2010, the road taken was the former: double down on combining government regulation with government subsidy.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Matt Ridley from the UK: The polarisation of the climate debate has gone too far

I am a climate lukewarmer. That means I think recent global warming is real, mostly man-made and will continue but I no longer think it is likely to be dangerous and I think its slow and erratic progress so far is what we should expect in the future. That last year was the warmest yet, in some data sets, but only by a smidgen more than 2005, is precisely in line with such lukewarm thinking.

This view annoys some sceptics who think all climate change is natural or imaginary, but it is even more infuriating to most publicly funded scientists and politicians, who insist climate change is a big risk. My middle-of-the-road position is considered not just wrong, but disgraceful, shameful, verging on scandalous. I am subjected to torrents of online abuse for holding it, very little of it from sceptics.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Guy Steward: Regarding “Wanganui” and Whanganui”

I have a most interesting book entitled Richard Taylor: Missionary Tramper, published by A.H. and A.W. Reed, written in 1966 by A.D. Mead who also wrote Wanganui River (1957). I quote from his introduction, “One source of variation was due to dialect; in particular the aspirate h, whether by itself or in the combination wh, was fully sounded only among the Ngapuhis of North Auckland; further south it was either lightly sounded or almost suppressed…”

I see four reasons not to change “Wanganui” to “Whanganui”.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Karl du Fresne: The ugliness of ardent nationalism

A small news item caught my eye a few days ago. It came from Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, and reported there had been yet another setback in moves toward re-unification of the divided Mediterranean island. It was what you might call a groundhog moment; one that seems doomed to be repeated over and over again.
For almost as long as I can recall, politicians on either side of the so-called Green Line that divides Cyprus have periodically inched cautiously toward reconciliation, only to rear back when agreement seemed to be within reach. It’s like a strange, elaborate dance in which the partners occasionally hover tantalisingly close to each other but never quite touch, still less embrace.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: The Charlie Hebdo massacre and the red herring of ‘freedom of expression’

Within hours of the bloodshed in Paris, large numbers of people had gathered in major cities across Europe in protest at what they saw as being an attack on a fundamental European human right: freedom of expression, a pillar of democracy. This theme was eclipsed by the theme of ‘unity’ in the course of mass marches attended by leaders from across the continent a few days later.

I had some difficulty in seeing what the point of the protests targeting freedom of expression in the immediate aftermath of the killings was. Who was the intended recipient of the message – al-Qaida in Yemen? If so, the protesters would be well advised to save their breath to cool their broth.

Richard Epstein from the US: Stopping Another Charlie Hebdo

Last week’s senseless slaughters at Charlie Hebdo in Paris has had the welcome consequence of uniting in massive public demonstrations those who are all too often locked in conflict. 

But signs of solidarity, like that in Paris this past Sunday, will not achieve their intended purpose unless they spur everyone to reexamine the fundamental principles of social cooperation that are needed to combat an ever-widening cycle of death and destruction.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Matt Ridley from the UK: Digital government begins

The travel chaos last Friday was a reminder of just how much life depends on Big Software doing its job. The air-traffic control centre at Swanwick was six years late and hundreds of millions over budget when it opened in 2002 in shiny new offices, but with software still based on an upgraded, old system. 

Unnoticed and unsung, however, this government may actually have found a way to bring the horrid history of big, public IT projects to an end.

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: A response to Lindsay Perigo

I agree with Lindsay Perigo [see his Breaking Views blog HEREthat the perpetrators of last week’s slaughter in Paris were ‘savages’. 

However, I take exception to much of what else he says.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Viv Forbes from Australia: Wake Up Australia!

As Australia’s industrial capacity declines, Australia is becoming green and defenceless.

History holds lessons.

Back in Dec 1941, Japan suddenly attacked the huge US Naval base at Pearl Harbour. Three days later, two “invincible” British warships, “Repulse” and “Prince of Wales” were sunk by Japanese planes off Malaya. Soon Japanese armies were rampaging through Asia towards Australia. By Feb 1942, the British fortress of Singapore surrendered and Japanese bombs were falling on Darwin. By Sept 1942 the Japanese army had slashed their way down the Kokoda Track and could see the lights of Port Moresby. They were looking across Torres Strait to Australia. At that time, most of our trained soldiers were fighting Rommel in North Africa or in Japanese prison camps.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Reuben Chapple: Maori Land

Property rights come about in one of two ways:

1. What in a pre-legal society might be referred to as “Customary Title.” This is not ownership at all, merely a temporary right of use or occupation, lasting only until extinguished by superior force.

2. Legal ownership. This means the ability to exclude others by the force of law. The underlying requirement is a universally recognised, settled form of civil government that protects property owners against violent dispossession, and provides for ongoing security of tenure, i.e. “time without end in the land.”

Lindsay Perigo: Mohammed's Murderous Minions

Savage superstitionists have just slaughtered eight journalists in Paris for the crime of making fun of their paedophile prophet. Had these sub-excreta been around in Voltaire's day, Voltaire's day no doubt would have been brutally shortened. The free-thinking French philosopher wrote of the murderous Mohammed:

"But that a camel-merchant should stir up insurrection in his village; that in league with some miserable followers he persuades them that he talks with the angel Gabriel; that he boasts of having been carried to heaven, where he received in part this unintelligible book, each page of which makes common sense shudder; that, to pay homage to this book, he delivers his country to iron and flame; that he cuts the throats of fathers and kidnaps daughters; that he gives to the defeated the choice of his religion or death: this is assuredly nothing any man can excuse, at least if he was not born a Turk, or if superstition has not extinguished all natural light in him."

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Mike Butler: Gareth Morgan wrong on treaty

Self-appointed guru Gareth Morgan bought into human-induced global warming in an earlier book and his current work on the Treaty of Waitangi shows him as a devotee of the make-it-up-as-you-go-along biculturalism that is the defining characteristic of New Zealand’s race gravy train.

Promoting Are we there yet? The future of the Treaty of Waitangi, Morgan has got the New Zealand Herald to agree to run a four-part series to promote his book, with the first installment published today.

His conclusion that the treaty process is a success because the “treaty is now taken to mean whatever Maori leaders and the Crown, as the public’s representatives, agree it means” ignores the elephant in the room by way of a racial faultline that came into existence with the creation of the Waitangi Tribunal in 1975.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Mike Butler: Co-governance shambles for HB

A two-pronged push is under way in Hawke’s Bay to create a race-based local government shambles that includes tribal appointees on both a Hawke’s Bay Regional Planning Committee and a Maori board. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Planning Committee, a co-governance body on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, has existed since April 10, 2012, although legislation to legitimise the panel is still going through Parliament. A Maori board is included in the Local Government Commission’s latest proposal to amalgamate five local bodies in Hawke’s Bay.

Bear in mind a democratic country, government, or political system, is governed by representatives who are elected by the people, and a democratic process is based on the idea that everyone should have equal rights and should be involved in making important decisions.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Mike Butler: Coastal claim stuns bach owners

Mahia bach owners were stunned yesterday to find out about a claim for customary marine title to the foreshore and seabed around Mahia Peninsula could bring patrols to keep out those who are not members of the Rongomaiwahine group and fines of up to $5000 for those who go there without permission.

Around 120 bach owners and claimants crammed the Mokotahi Hall at Mahia 187km north of Napier at 4pm yesterday to hear Hugh Barr of the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of New Zealand explain how the Marine and Coastal Area Act 2011 opened up the entire coastal area to claim by tribal groups.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Mike Butler: No 'H' in 'Wanganui' on treaty

The name "Wanganui" was spelt without the "H" on the copy of the Treaty of Waitangi that chiefs in the area signed in 1840, Ross Baker of the One New Zealand Foundation points out. Here is a copy of the signatures of the chiefs that signed the Tiriti o Waitangi under the name, “Chiefs of Wanganui”.

Their signatures were witnessed by the Reverend Henry Williams.

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: The rise and rise of the Sharia

The past few years – 2014 in particular – have been trying ones for humankind.  On the geopolitical scene, we have seen the re-emergence of the Cold War and the alarming resurgence of international Islamist extremism. At the domestic level, growing numbers of people feel increasingly disenfranchised by laws, regulations and rulings that they view as irrational or unfair (or just plain stupid). 

Many people in both developed and developing countries are losing faith in the structures and institutions of governance – the legislature, the executive, the bureaucracy, the courts. But there is one institution that has been going from strength to strength over the past couple of decades and 2015 is likely to be yet another good year for it: Sharia law.