Saturday, February 28, 2015

Karl du Fresne: God put the Rimutaka Hill there for a reason

On Monday night I went to a public meeting in the Masterton Town Hall. The hall was full, which might have something to do with the fact that not a lot happens in Masterton on a Monday night and a meeting in the Town Hall provides an exciting diversion. 

On the other hand you might say this was the beating heart of local democracy, even if most of the heads in the hall were grey.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Bruce Moon: Before 1840

It is a curious fact that there are many part-Maoris today (though certainly not all) who have remarkably good memories about their alleged sufferings since 1840 but completely blank minds about what happened to them any earlier.  It is not hard to work out why this should be but more helpful perhaps to assist them in remembering a bit more about their earlier days.

Matt Ridley: GM crops - the scientific argument's over

The European Parliament votes tomorrow on whether to let countries decide their own policies on growing genetically modified crops. The vote would allow countries such as Britain to press ahead because of hard evidence that such crops are good for the environment, good for consumers and good for farmers; and let countries such as Austria continue to ban the things despite such evidence. It’s an alliance of the rational with the superstitious against the bureaucratic.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mike Butler: Amalgamation cons by the pros

A proposal being steadily pushed on to Hawke’s Bay residents is to absorb the councils of Hastings, Napier, Wairoa, and Central Hawke’s Bay, plus the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, into one super council with five local boards, and a Maori board, with the headquarters in Napier.

Amalgamation is a central government initiative, with similar proposals in Northland and Wellington at the same time as the Hawke’s Bay push. I presented the case against amalgamation to 54 people at a public meeting at the Havelock North Community Centre yesterday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bryan Leyland: “Things you know that ain't so” - solar power

As the American humorist Will Rogers said: “It’s not what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” 

 The solar power industry only exists because deluded governments all over the world  believe that it will make a significant difference to carbon dioxide emissions that, they believe, cause dangerous global warming. As a result they have been conned into providing subsidies of 3 to 5 times the cost of conventional power.

Viv Forbes: Strange Allies in the War on Carbon Fuels

What great cause could unite Prince Charles, President Obama, the Pope, the Arab Oil sheiks, the United Nations, the European Union, the Russians, the Chinese, Pacific Island Nations, most undeveloped countries, the glitterati of Hollywood, left-wing politicians, unrepentant reds, government media, the climate research industry, Big Oil, Big Gas and the Green Blob. It must be something posing a clear and urgent danger to all humanity?

No, the crusade that unites them all is the War on Carbon Fuels, focussed mainly on that most vilified target, coal.

Reuben Chapple: The Waitangi Tribunal - A Vote of No Confidence

It is widely believed that Waitangi Tribunal Reports issue only after rigorous historical investigation of Treaty claims.

These findings then make their way into media reports, onto Government websites, and percolate throughout our education system as apparently authoritative, objective information.

But what if Tribunal Reports were one-eyed rewrites of New Zealand history and not worth the paper they are printed on?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ron Smith: Fighting Islamist Extremism

Has the war on Islamic extremism got anything to do with us?  Specifically, should we contribute to any military action against the so-called Islamic State and its outliers?  

This, of course, is a multi-faceted question.  What are the grounds that might justify such intervention?  What contribution could we actually make?  What are the prospects for success for the operation that is presently envisaged?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Lindsay Mitchell: 'War on the poor'?

The weekend's Auckland protesters are styling their latest slogan after UK counterparts. The UK Labour Party officially launched a 'stop the war on the poor' campaign last year.

It's a powerful, catchy rallying-cry but what is this 'war'?

Sue Bradford talked on TV this morning about "ruthless" housing policies.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Karl du Fresne: Doing nothing is not an option

It’s hard to think of a more challenging conundrum than the one posed by the Islamic State.
Labour leader Andrew Little was right last week to describe Isis as evil. It’s a word seldom heard these days because it implies a moral judgment, and moral judgments are unfashionable. But “evil” is the only way to describe men who coldly behead their captives, then amp up the shock factor by burning one alive.

Bryan Leyland: “Things you know that ain't so" - DDT

As the American humorist Will Rogers said: “It’s not what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” 

“Things that you know that ain't so"

“DDT is dangerous and banning it was justified.”

In her book, “The Silent Spring" Rachel Carson claimed that DDT was seriously reducing wild bird populations in spite of the fact that the evidence showed an increase since the introduction of DDT. 

Mike Butler: Hastings resists amalgamation

As decision time looms with the proposal to merge the five Hawke’s Bay councils into one super council based in Napier, a new group has formed in Hastings to fight amalgamation. Hastings Against Amalgamation is holding an initial meeting at the Havelock North Community Centre on Tuesday, February 24 at 7pm, to plan the next step should the Local Government Commission opt to proceed with amalgamation.

That next step is to collect around 4400 Hastings signatures to trigger a poll on the issue.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Frank Newman: Property headlines

It was a big news week for property owners last week. The items are of particular interest have been  comments made by the Reserve Bank governor about interest rates, and a new 10-year fixed rate  mortgage has been offered by a major lender.

Firstly, the Governor's comments. Graeme Wheeler has poured an ice bucket of water on recent media speculation that the next more in Reserve Bank interest rates could be down. In a recent speech, in his typically measured way, he said a cut in the Official Cash Rate was very unlikely. What it boils down to is the economy does not need stimulus - it is in good shape and there are already a number of positive influences:

Devon Mace: Gareth Morgan’s ‘Upper House’ betrays all notions of democracy

Sir John A. McDonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, has been oft-quoted for suggesting that the Canadian Senate was a place for a “sober second thought”.

It was, and is, an upper house modelled on the English House of Lords – the members are not elected, but are instead appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Prime Minster. In that regard, it follows the original idea of a senate – ‘the assembly of elders’. And in such a case, a senate works. The Government has the right to appoint whoever they want to the upper house, meaning it’s not a site for politicking and policy-blocking, and instead provides McDonald’s quote with weight. It does, however, bypass the notion of true democracy, and Stephen Harper has long suggested an overhaul of the Canadian senate.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bruce Moon: Changing our Country’s Name by Stealth

To anybody who is reasonably observant, the rapid increase in appearance of the word “Aotearoa” in print and the spoken word will appear very striking, even sinister.  Thus, even the recently appointed Race Relations Commissioner, Dame Susan Devoy, has used it and it has appeared on postage stamps in larger print than our country’s real name.  What is going on?  Is our country’s name being changed by stealth?  We are New Zealanders – surely we are proud of that!  By what right can anybody alter it?

As always, we can get some perspective by looking at our history which tells us that “Aotearoa” is a quite recent upstart with scant justification, if any at all, to be used as our country’s name.

Mike Butler: HB paper pushes coastal claims

The Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper announced support for tribal claims for the marine and coastal area in a Waitangi Day editorial and labelled those who question the legislation and claims as “unhelpfully emotive and mischievous in the context of the ground on which we stand today”.

While editorial writer Doug Laing has every right to express his opinion in our free society, and the H.B. Today has every right to editorialise in any direction it chooses, those efforts should engage in the debate rather than labelling the criticism as “antics” and describing public meetings as “staged”.

Mike Butler: Gunpoint treaty threat and other lies

Hawke's Bay elder Jerry Hapuku spoke to the Hawke’s Bay Today newspaper for a Waitangi Day story this year. Maybe the excitement of being interviewed blurred the line between fact and fiction so he told a story about his ancestor, chief Te Hapuku, being forced to sign the Treaty of Waitangi at gunpoint.

That’s news to me I thought when I saw the headline, having read a lot of regional history, so I checked historian Angela Ballara’s description Te Hapuku and the treaty in her biography of him in the Encyclopaedia of New Zealand. Ballara is a current member of the Waitangi Tribunal and her writings are very pro-Maori.

Mike Butler: Focus on tribal tax exemption

The Taxpayers' Union is querying Labour Party leader Andrew Little's comments at Waitangi that New Zealand should consider allowing Maori to make their own laws, including tax laws, in reference to rules applicable to Native American tribal lands.

Little’s comments represented a parting shot of Waitangi Day 2015 that featured expert-on-everything Gareth Morgan telling five-generation New Zealanders of British ancestry to stop being ignorant about Maoris.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ron Smith: Holocaust Revisited

In recent days the world has been remembering the holocaust.  Quite right, too!  We should recall to mind atrocity on this scale, and ask ourselves what, if anything, could have been done to prevent it.  

Whatever conclusions we come to on this point, we need also to ask whether it could happen again, and if it could, what we would need to do to make sure it doesn’t.  In a broader sense, I am talking about industrial-scale genocide/ethnic cleansing of whatever kind but I am also thinking specifically of the possibility of a second Jewish holocaust on broadly the same scale as the first.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Bruce Moon: The True Meaning of the Treaty

The essence of the Treaty is that by this document in the Ngapuhi dialect, the chiefs ceded sovereignty to the Queen completely and forever.

In return, all Maoris, including the many slaves of other Maoris, became British subjects with their full rights and privileges - a magnificent gift.

Claims today that the chiefs never ceded sovereignty to the Queen show contempt for the truth.

Kevin Donnelly from Australia: Why we should embrace school autonomy

With schools returning this week, the usual debates have already started about the respective merits of government and non-government schools and the best way to make Australian students more competitive given unsatisfactory results in international literacy and numeracy tests. But equally if not more important is the fact that over the next 12 months the Federal Government plans to review the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth, states and territories when it comes to managing schools.

As noted in Issues Paper 4 - Roles and Responsibilities in Education, released just before Christmas, the hope is to identify the best way to balance accountability, subsidiarity, equity, efficiency, effectiveness and fiscal sustainability across Australia's education systems and schools.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: Science education in Cloud Cuckoo Land

It’s back to school and study – well, the latter for some kids anyway. 

People have asked me why I don’t write more on education. I went into the field almost 40 years ago and found things that really did interest me, including science education. That had something going for it then, but now it’s gone to the dogs. There’s been an ideological hijack and the word ‘science’ hardly seems to fit in ‘science education’ any more. Not that everyone has fallen for it, but the so-called ‘academics’ on the whole have swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mike Butler: Tribes first up for social housing

New tribal corporations appear to have the first right of refusal for all state houses the Government plans to sell because such rights to surplus Crown properties have existed in treaty settlements back to the Waikato-Tainui deal in 1995.

Housing was the main subject of Prime Minister John Key’s state of the nation speech last week. A proposal to sell between 1000 and 2000 Housing New Zealand properties over the following year for use as social housing run by approved community housing providers was the standout among five proposals that included: