Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ron Smith: Boat People

We really need to decide what we want to do about refugees/immigrants, rather than making cheap points about every incident that occurs. This applies to political activists and the major media (not that there is a clear distinction between the two).

The first question concerns whether we wish to control the process or whether we are content to just let it happen.  Whatever, the history, or the particular claims, that individuals might present with, it seems to me that we would want to control the process, both in regards to numbers and individual characteristics.  This cannot be done if we simply wait until the persons concerned turn up on our shores, or appear in distress in our coastal waters (or even somewhere in our exclusive economic zone).

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sarah Taylor: Race-based plan in HB merger

A race-based Regional Planning Committee imposed upon the Hawke's Bay Regional Council by Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson has been included in the proposed five-council Hawke's Bay amalgamation without scrutiny or debate.

Residents of Hawke’s Bay have a postal vote starting August 24, 2015, to decide whether or not the Hastings, Napier, Wairoa, Central Hawke’s Bay councils, and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, should merge as a single council with a regional planning committee, a Maori Board, and a natural resources board.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Lindsay Mitchell: Welfare state today - the good and the bad

Not widely reported in the MSM so cut and paste from the Minister:
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has introduced a bill extending the Youth Service to 19 year old parents and other 18 and 19 year olds at risk of long term welfare dependence. 
Youth Service provides intensive wrap around support for young people, getting them help with paying bills, budgeting and parenting, and supporting them into education. 
“The Youth Service has been very successful, with 86.5 per cent of clients engaged in education, training or work-based learning at the end of March 2015,” Mrs Tolley says. 

Calestous Juma from Harvard University: The Benefits of Africa's New Free Trade Area

The creation in June 2015 of a free trade area from Cape Town to Cairo is possibly the most significant event in Africa since the formation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. 

It is a grand move to merge existing regional organization into a single African Economic Community. The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) includes the 26 countries that are members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), and Southern African Community (SADC). The TFTA covers a population of 632 million and a combined GDP of $1.3 trillion. The area spans 17.3 million square kilometers, which is nearly twice the size of China or the United States.

Viv Forbes from Australia: Green Energy Steals from the Biosphere

Earth has only three significant sources of energy.

First is geothermal energy from Earth’s molten core and decaying radioactive minerals in Earth’s crust. This energy moves continents, powers volcanoes and its heat migrates towards the crust, warming the lithosphere and the deep oceans. It can be harvested successfully in favourable locations, and radioactive minerals can be extracted to provide large amounts of reliable heat for power generation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Karl du Fresne: Greedy baby-boomers? I'm not so sure

Is there anything less edifying than a debate between generations about who had it tougher? Judging by a barely civil clash on TV3’s The Nation recently, probably not.

TV3 lined up three “millennials” – members of Generations X and Y, born after 1980 – against three baby-boomers. 
The younger cohort was out to prove they had been disadvantaged by political and economic changes over their lifetime. The boomers, predictably, weren’t having a bar of it.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mike Butler: Merger mayor and Agenda 21

Hastings merger mayor Lawrence Yule’s speech to the Commonwealth Local Government Conference in Botswana last week showed the link between local government reorganization in New Zealand and the United Nations Agenda 21 policy.

Yule is the only mayor in Hawke’s Bay to back a five-council amalgamation of the sort that was stingingly dumped in Wellington earlier this month and slowly evaporated in Northland. A final proposal for a merger in Hawke’s Bay will be voted on in September.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Nigel Lawson from the UK: The age of climate unreason

How is it that much of the Western world, and Europe in particular, has succumbed to the self-harming collective madness that is the climate change orthodoxy? It is difficult to escape the conclusion that climate change orthodoxy has in effect become a substitute religion, attended by all the intolerant zealotry that has so often marred religion in the past, and in some places still does so today.

Throughout the Western world, the two creeds that used to vie for popular support – Christianity and the atheistic belief system of Communism – are each clearly in decline. Yet people still feel the need both for the comfort and for the transcendent values that religion can provide. It is the quasi-religion of green alarmism and global salvationism, of which the climate change dogma is the prime example, that has filled the vacuum, with reasoned questioning of its mantras regarded as little short of sacrilege.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Karl du Fresne: Collins got it right, but received no thanks for it

Justice David Collins drew the short straw when he was assigned to hear Lecretia Seales’ case seeking the right to die at a time of her own choosing. He made the correct decision, ruling that it was for Parliament, not the courts, to change the law relating to assisted suicide.

He explained his decision in a thorough, carefully reasoned 55-page judgment. That he produced this document in a matter of days, hoping to deliver his decision before Seales died (which he did), was no small achievement.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: When two halves don’t make a whole – the row over Miss Japan

I don’t normally pay any attention to beauty pageants. For one thing, I can’t say that I find most of those beauty queens all that appealing – they’re pleasant enough on the eye in the way that a painting or sculpture can be, but they don’t hit the right hormonal buttons with me, if you know what I mean. Yes, this is getting about as subjective as it can get, and I’d be the first to concede that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Still, one can be objective about subjectivity, including perceptions of beauty. Most people are attracted to certain ‘types’ in the first instance and then take stock of a given individual within that frame of reference.

Frank Newman: Interest rates and local property prices

There are some pretty seismic things happening in the finance markets at present. Last week the Reserve Bank lowered the Official Cash Rate (OCR) by 0.25% and signalled further reductions are possible (the reviews are six-weekly).

My translation of the smoke signals is that things are getting pretty dire in the farming sector. Within 12 months farmers' top line revenue has halved. That's a collapse in anyone's language. This would be manageable if it were a mere blip but price collapses rarely are, and it's now looking like international dairy prices may remain low into the medium term.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Matt Ridley from the UK: FIFA and other unaccountable international fiefdoms

The Fifa fiasco is not just about football. It is also emblematic of a chronic problem with international bureaucracies of all kinds. The tendency of supranational quangos to become the personal fiefdoms of their presidents or directors-general, and to sink into lethargy or corruption, followed by brazen defiance when challenged, is not unique to Fifa or sport. It is an all too common pattern.

Fifa is an extreme example mainly because of the enormous opportunity for bribery involved in granting the right to host a vastly lucrative tournament every four years. A similar corruption scandal befell the International Olympic Committee in 1998 over its practices when awarding the Winter Games to Salt Lake City, while under the 21-year presidency of Juan Antonio Samaranch. Reform followed.

Brian Gaynor: Too much… the culture that toppled FIFA

The FIFA controversy, particularly the rise and fall of Sepp Blatter, is probably more about business, money and governance than sport. It clearly demonstrates that sporting bodies operating under a feudal system – with 19th century rules – may not have the appropriate governance structures to effectively manage large inflows of money.

It also shines the spotlight on Swiss secrecy and the criticism of the country’s banking sector for its lack of transparency.

Stephen Franks: Instead of the Wellington Super City

How many commentators on the Local Government Commission decision will waste the minutes of scarce public attention to a local government issue? The public decided long ago that an Auckland-style uber-government for our region was not their idea of improving local democracy.

So they’ll have little patience for whining that the people got it wrong. I’ve heard astonishing contempt from believers in amalgamation. They thought the ‘ignorant’ proles should have been grateful that their betters were working to ensure they could be governed remotely by them, instead of by locals they might know in their neighbourhoods.

Karl du Fresne: It's not pretty, but it's preferable to Fifa

You may have heard of “fly on the wall” filmmaking. It’s a technique in which documentary makers record their subjects unobtrusively, so as not to influence their behaviour.
The object is to portray people as they really are. The subjects of the film become so accustomed to the presence of the camera that eventually they forget it’s there and allow the barricade of self-consciousness to drop, revealing their true selves.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Mike Butler: Rights of first refusal fishhooks

Auckland tribe Ngati Whatua’s demand to be first in line in plans to develop Crown land in Auckland for housing shows the folly of including of rights of first refusal (RFR) in treaty settlements.

Ngati Whatua sought legal advice when it looked like the Housing Minister Nick Smith might cut them out of the process by using Section 136 of the Tamaki Collective settlement legislation that says:

Viv Forbes from Australia: Will Better Batteries save Solar Energy?

Tesla boss, Elon Musk (whose companies have received $4.9 billion in government subsidies for his electric cars) is now claiming that his batteries will allow solar energy to power the world:

“You can basically make all electricity generation in the world renewable and basically solar ..”

This is, at best, pure puffery.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Barend Vlaardingerbroek from Lebanon: Waiting for Iran to start the ISIS end-game

I’m brassed off with the Iranians. I’m brassed off with the Yanks and the Poms and I’m brassed off with their regional allies. I’m brassed off, full stop. Why? Well, I had written an article for this forum based on the assumption that by now ISIS would be reeling. But all we see is dithering and vacillation while a bunch of cut-throats straight from the piratical 17th century Caribbean throw their weight around and not only get away with it but become more and more what they claim to be – the Islamic State (see my earlier article “ISIS – hostishumani generis and the spectre of legitimacy creep”). And so my article went into the Recycle Bin where it was subjected to that scrunchy sound that you get when you click on ‘Empty’.

Here’s what should have happened. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Brian Arrandale: Magna Carta - our founding document

On June 15th this year Western Democracies celebrate the 800th Anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta in 1215. Just what does a document written in Latin by Feudal Barons 800 years ago have to do with our New Zealand of today?  

Good question. Any study of the history of that time informs us that it was primarily a struggle between whether a King could impose his sovereign will, especially in the field of taxation and law, without any justification or consultation of the people.  The Barons, feudal landlords objected strongly, and in essence forced King John to accept the provisions they demanded.

Mike Butler: Cold housing and the poverty pimps

A rental property warrant of fitness will not stop another child dying of cold, as Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills and the Green Party would have you believe. Why? The answer was right there in the One News story titled “Otara state houses 'damp, full of cockroaches' but Govt defends HNZ after death”, which was the death of Emma-Lita Bourne after a pneumonia-like illness.

One minute in, reporter Max Bania said that the house had a heater provided by Housing New Zealand but the family seldom used it because they couldn’t afford the power bill.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Mike Butler: Herald's shoddy Bastion Point history

Reporter Suzanne McFadden’s over-egged account of the Bastion Point story in the New Zealand Herald on Saturday failed to mention how the land was taken, how the issue was resolved, or the numerous settlements the Orakei Ngati Whatua group has received since.

I was at Bastion Point on the morning of May 25, 1978, mainly because I lived nearby, and saw much of the eviction. I later filed two news reports, one to New York and one to Tokyo, where they were published as briefs.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Mike Butler: How Rotorua council included racism

Rotorua, population 65,901, is the city known for geysers, the bathhouse, the gondola and luge, the lake, and Maori culture shows for tourists. A Maori culture show with a difference has bubbled away for a year as mayor Stephanie (call me Steve) Chadwick has pushed through a proposal to have local tribal appointees sit and vote on committees. The Rotorua Lakes Council is so inclusive that it has included racism in its representation.

What used to be known as the Rotorua District Council approved on Tuesday, in an eight-to-five majority, an arrangement in which two representatives nominated by a new elected Te Arawa board will sit on the council's two main committees with voting rights.