Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

- from the Breaking Views Team

The Breaking Views team - and the New Zealand Centre for Political Research - would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year!

Thank you so much for your on-going interest in our work and for your support during the year. Here's hoping 2016 will be a great year for all!

Please don't forget that our main website is at and that if you don't receive our free NZCPR Weekly newsletters, you are most welcome to register HERE.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

John Robinson: Maori rebellion and New Zealand wars

The call for a national day to mark the New Zealand wars has been backed by claims that the wars of rebellion against the national government were land wars, which “left much of the country's indigenous population battered and bloodied, and facing the prospect of dying out altogether within a few generations.”
This is quite false.  The reason for the Maori population decrease of the nineteenth century is clear from the data – there were too few young, too few women, following the disruption and killing of the intertribal wars that preceded the Treaty. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Matt Ridley: Doing good by doing well

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan marked the birth of their daughter Max by promising to donate 99 per cent of their Facebook shares during their lifetimes to support good causes. For this they were pilloried by some. The economist Thomas Piketty called it a “big joke”. For author Linsey McGoey it was “business as usual, rebranding as philanthropy, and announced with a deceptive air of selflessness”.

We have reached new depths of cynicism when a couple say in a letter to their newborn child that “our hopes for your generation focus on two ideas: advancing human potential and promoting equality” and some people can only sneer.

Karl du Fresne: The Mother Grundy authorities won't rest until we're frightened to drink anything at all

I wonder if this will be the summer when I get pinged for exceeding the drink-drive limit.

It’s bound to happen sometime. Like most New Zealanders I enjoy a drink, and we’re coming into the season of Christmas parties, barbecues and leisurely outdoor lunches.
Trouble is, the tougher drink-drive laws introduced last year make it far more difficult than before to judge whether you’re over the limit.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Frank Newman: Interest rate clarity

The big news of the week has been the Reserve Bank's decision to lower the Overnight Cash Rate (OCR) by a further 25 basis points to 2.5%.

Most of the trading banks reacted by lowering their flexible mortgage rates by the same amount. Kiwibank has the lowest variable rate mortgage on offer at 5.65%. Westpac is the only bank so far to cut a fixed-term rate, slicing 15 points off its two-year special rate to 4.24%. The lowest rate in the market place is 3.99% fixed for one year from SBS Bank. Interest rates are now at their lowest level in over 60 years.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Mike Butler: Petitioning for day of grievance

Otorohanga College students with painted faces and traditional costume converged on Parliament this week to present a petition demanding a national day of remembrance for anti-government Maori killed during several 19th century tribal rebellions.

Sporadic armed conflict accompanied the settlement of New Zealand, from 1843 to 1869, with the bulk of the fighting during the 1860s in Taranaki, Waikato, the Bay of Plenty, and the east coast of the North Island.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Gerry Eckhoff: Fresh Water

On Waitangi Day next year the Prime Minister is to announce that the responsibility for the governance of fresh water in NZ will soon be a shared responsibility between appointed Iwi and elected Regional Councils. 
Currently, Regional Councils administer the fresh water resource through NZ. This single action will lead to the adulteration of the process of representative democracy within NZ.

After some years of consultation with high level Iwi leaders such as Sir Temu te Heuheu and Sir Mark Solomon, the Prime Minister will allow what he calls the rights and interests of Iwi in fresh water to go out for “public consultation”. This process will end where it starts -  with co governance of fresh water as already agreed to between Mr Key and representatives of Iwi. 

Bryan Leyland: Things you know that ain't so - global temperature

Things you know that ain't so - global temperature records back to 1850 can be relied upon”
Readers may have noticed that all the hype surrounding the climate meeting in Paris is about reducing emissions of that evil gas, carbon dioxide. While there are frequent references to our dangerously and rapidly warming world, melting ice and (slowly) rising sea levels I have seen no mention of what world temperatures are actually doing. A bit odd isn’t it?

When you start looking at temperature records you rapidly get confused.

H. Sterling Burnett from the US: Paris About Global Control, Not Global Climate

At a press conference in Brussels in early February 2015, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, stated publicly what many climate realists had long suspected: The global warming scaremongering going on for more than 25 years was not really about protecting the planet, it was about controlling peoples’ lives by controlling the economy.

As Figueres said, “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution.” Figueres went on to say, “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history.”

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Karl du Fresne: In the end, ranking the flag options was easy

I hesitated for a couple of days before casting my vote in the flag referendum last week. I thought it might be too difficult.
I can be a shocking ditherer. Just deciding what to have for breakfast can leave me paralysed with indecision. But as it turned out, when the flag choices were starkly set out in front of me, I made up my mind almost instantly.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: The non-religious origins of law

The Islamic State and fundamentalist Christian groups don’t exactly like one another, but they have quite a lot in common. They both believe in the fusion of temple, State and judiciary. They both regard human beings as being intrinsically incapable of regulating their own behaviour and running their own affairs, thereby requiring rules of proper conduct to be imposed ‘from on high’.

In this morbid view, humankind is inherently amoral rather than immoral: the building blocks of morality, ethics and law are not to be found within the natural human psyche. But this is a completely erroneous premise concerning the nature of the human condition.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Frank Newman: More RMA reforms

The Resource Management Act is making history - as New Zealand's most amended piece of legislation. The latest amendments are being made possible by a deal between the National and Maori parties. 

The changes don't go as far as National had originally intended - they do not have the numbers in Parliament to change the principles of the Act, so it remains primarily an environmental protection document.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Richard Epstein from the US: Obama’s ISIS Paralysis

The recent events in Paris and elsewhere have led the leaders of the civilized world to search for an appropriate response to the barbaric actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. 

The toll of deaths, injuries, and property damage all point to a single conclusion: something powerful must be done, and done now. In spite of this, during an intense press conference in Turkey, President Obama doubled-down on his current strategy, despite the pushback from an ever-more skeptical press corps: “The equation,” Jerome Cartillier of AFP said, “has clearly changed. Isn't it time for your strategy to change?” 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Benny Peiser & Matt Ridley: Your Complete Guide To The Paris Climate Summit

At the Paris conference, expect an agreement that is sufficiently vague and noncommittal for all countries to claim victory.

In February President Obama said, a little carelessly, that climate change is a greater threat than terrorism. Next week he will be in Paris, a city terrorized yet again by mass murderers, for a summit with other world leaders on climate change, not terrorism. What precisely makes these world leaders so convinced that climate change is a more urgent and massive threat than the incessant rampages of Islamist violence?

Monday, November 30, 2015

Mike Butler: RMA adds first dibs for iwi

More than six years ago the new National-led Government announced the Resource Management (Simplify and Streamline) Amendment Bill 2009. This intended to boost economic development by removing vexatious objections, streamlining processes for projects of national significance, creating an Environmental Protection Authority, improving planning and resource consent processes, and streamlining decision-making.

However, a much watered-down Resource Legislation Amendment Bill that was finally introduced by Environment Minister Nick Smith on Thursday includes an unexpected requirement that tribal authorities be consulted at an earlier stage of planning applications.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ron Smith: Climate Change and the Imperial Wardrobe

In 1837 Danish writer, Hans Christian Anderson wrote a short tale for children called ‘The Emperor’s new clothes’.  In this a pair of enterprising weavers undertake to provide a magnificent new suit for his majesty, which will have the interesting characteristic of being quite invisible to those of his court who are ignorant, or incompetent, or otherwise, unfit for their position.  

The story is apparently based on a 14th century version of a myth that goes back to classic times.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Brian Gaynor: Liveable city faces some tough choices

The Ernst &Young (EY) and Cameron Partners reports on Auckland Council’s long term $18.7 billion capital expenditure programme raise a number of important issues. These include:
  • Should rates increases be used to fund these projects?
  • Can the council rely primarily on debt funding?
  • Should the capital expenditure programme be partly funded through the sale of council assets?

Richard Rahn from Cato: A Bounty of Good News

Your Thanksgiving dinner is going to be less expensive. This year the average person will need to work 2 hours, 21 minutes and 57 seconds to pay for all the items in a standard Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people — a work reduction of one minute and 8 seconds from last year. 

Back in 1986, the average person needed to work 3 hours, 12 minutes and 27 seconds to pay for the same dinner, or 50 minutes and 30 seconds longer than a worker today. This is the great beauty of the capitalistic system — in real terms, as measured by the time necessary to work to buy most anything, the price falls year after year.

Matt Ridley from the UK: The rise of humanism

Fifty years ago, after the cracking of the genetic code, Francis Crick was so confident religion would fade that he offered a prize for the best future use for Cambridge’s college chapels. Swimming pools, said the winning entry. 

Today, when terrorists cry “God is great” in both Paris and Bamako as they murder, the joke seems sour. But here’s a thought: that jihadism may be a last spasm — albeit a painful one — of a snake that is being scotched. The humanists are winning, even against Islam.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Karl du Fresne: We don't know how lucky we are

I spent much of the weekend mowing lawns and raking up leaves and other garden debris that had accumulated while my wife and I were on holiday in the United States. The only thing disturbing the peace – that is, once I’d turned the mower off – was the barking of a neighbour’s dog.

Meanwhile, a world away, the residents of Paris were locked indoors, reluctant to venture outside for fear of another terrorist attack. There could hardly have been a more striking reminder of how blessed we are, living in this remote and serene corner of the globe.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Ron Smith: Postscript on Paris

What follows are comments on some of the issues raised in my 15 November posting (‘There is a war on’), which dealt with the ISIS attack on Paris.

Last Tuesday (17 November), there was a soccer match in Istanbul between Turkey and Greece.  Just before the kick-off an official call was made for a moment of silence for the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris, on the previous Friday.  It was greeted by whistling and shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is great’).  They were celebrating!

Frank Newman: Licensed Builders and continuing education

The leaky homes debacle has given rise to some pretty seismic changes in the building industry. A fair chunk of the blame was, rightly or wrongly, put on so-called Cowboy builders. The upshot is a Licensed Building Practitioners (LPB) scheme that is intended to ensure those who are doing "restricted" building work (i.e. building more than a rabbit cage) are suitably skilled.

As it happens there are seven different LBP classes: Design, Carpentry, Roofing, Brick and blocklaying, Site, External plastering, Foundations, and All. Practitioners in each class must gain between 12 and 18 points within a specified time frame to retain their license.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: Fortresses Under Siege from Within and Without

“… they thought that their fortresses would protect them…”
- from an Islamic State press release after the Paris attacks
One of the African delegates at the Malta conference addressing illegal migration into Europe last week made a disparaging reference to ‘Fortress Europe’.

Ron Smith: There is a war on

There should be only one question on the lips of French citizens today and that is: are we really going to allow Islamic terrorists to continue to kill us without hindrance?  

If, as I suppose, the answer is ‘no’, then we should expect decisive action against ISIS by France and the other states which are similarly at threat.  If nothing else is plain, it must surely be beyond doubt that passive defence, which depends on security measures and intelligence-gathering, is not working, and neither is the pin-prick aerial assault on the Islamic state, itself, by various NATO and other forces.

Mike Butler: End tribunal’s permanent lobbying

If Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson thinks the Waitangi Tribunal is going into areas outside its scope he could introduce a bill to disestablish it.

News of an urgent hearing into whether the Crown has failed to reduce high Maori imprisonment and re-offending rates prompted the Minister's comment that he didn't know whether they're a permanent commission of inquiry or some kind of imperial senate.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Professor Calestous Juma: What Africa Can Learn from China about Growing its Agribusiness Sector

The World Bank projects that agriculture and agribusiness in Africa will grow to be a US$1 trillion industry in Africa by 2030. To promote this outcome, the continent must review its incentive structures.

Agriculture averages 24% of GDP across the continent. With post-harvest activities taken into account, agriculture-related industry accounts for nearly half of all economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Karl du Fresne: The enigma that is American politics

As you read this, I’m in the United States. It’s a country I’ve visited several times, but it remains an enigma to me.

The people I meet here are friendly, courteous and helpful. I see no trace of the crazy America that we read about in the headlines: the mass shootings, the religious fundamentalism, the overheated patriotism, the rabid political views, the nasty outbursts of apparently racist police violence. I find it hard to reconcile these with the Americans I encounter.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Richard Rahn from the Cato Institute: Squandering Economic Freedom

There was good news for Argentina last week. It was expected that Daniel Scioli, the Peronist candidate and political heir of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, would win the presidential election. Much to most people’s surprise, Maurico Macri, the more free-market-oriented mayor of Buenos Aires, won almost as many votes as Mr. Scioli, forcing a runoff, which Mr. Macri has a good chance to win.

The Peronists (named after former dictator Juan Peron) have had political control much of the last 70 years, and it has been a disaster for the country.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Viv Forbes: Don’t Break our Food Chain

Napoleon once said: “Only a foolish horse fights with his nose bag”.

But today we have many foolish people fighting their nose bag. They are weakening Earth’s food chain with a war on carbon.

Carbon is the building block of life. “Organic” means “containing carbon” and every bit of plant and animal life is built around the carbon atom.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Matt Ridley: The western environmental movement's role in China's one-child policy

The abolition of China’s one-child policy brings to an end one of the most futile and inhumane experiments in top-down social engineering the world has seen. 

I say futile because it did not work. China’s birth rate roughly halved in the decade before the policy was introduced, then fell not at all in the next decade. A less coercive policy would probably have slowed China’s population growth just as much, if not more — as it did that of other countries in Asia.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Brian Gaynor: What is the future of television?

What is the future of television? Will television experience a similar dramatic downturn in revenue as the newspaper, music and book retailing sectors?

Television’s future is in the spotlight following the publication of Alan Wolk’s book “Over the Top: How the internet is (slowly but surely) changing the television industry” and the release of Television New Zealand’s 2015 annual report.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mike Butler: Opera House could be used as-is

The life risk of the Hawke’s Bay Opera House is very low and there is no legal requirement to leave the building empty so it could be used now, risk specialist Ian Harrison said on Monday.

Mr Harrison, who is chair of Evidence Based Seismic Strengthening, addressed more than 70 people at the Havelock North Function Centre.

Mike Butler: Nursing the Parihaka grudge

The Catholic Church this year used a song by Tim Finn and Herbs to teach forgiveness and reconciliation in its schools to mark November 5 as Parihaka day. But church leaders do not see that Parihaka is rooted in staunch opposition to white settlement.

November 5, 1881, was the day that government troops evicted 1600 people from a village built on confiscated land between Mount Taranaki and the Tasman Sea.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Mike Butler: Same-sex marriage two years on

The demand for same-sex marriages by New Zealand residents has decreased by over 10 percent over the past year while traditional marriage has slightly increased in the same time period, according to statistics released this week.

Civil Unions and Marriages: September 2015 quarter shows that there were 19,659 traditional marriages, up from 19,266, while there were 450 same-sex marriages, down from 504. (1)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: Syria – Putin’s geopolitical coup

It’s the stuff of an Orwellian political satire. 

A sovereign nation is faced with a massive insurrection that is largely orchestrated by hostile outside forces who bring in thousands of foreign fighters. Third parties who don’t like the government of that nation arm and train other rebel groups but they also feel threatened by the principal usurper, so those rebels are supposed to take on both at once.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Mike Butler: Gisborne resource co-governance

The Gisborne District Council became latest local authority to adopt a co-governance arrangement with local tribe Ngati Porou on notified resource consent applications, on planning documents, and on private plan changes.

The agreement between Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou, a trustee company, and the Gisborne District Council, passed at a council meeting October 8, includes heavily criticised aspects of co-governance involving tribal appointees with full voting rights.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Matt Ridley from the UK: The benefits of carbon dioxide

France’s leading television weather forecaster, Philippe Verdier, was taken off air last week for writing that there are “positive consequences” of climate change. Freeman Dyson, professor emeritus of mathematical physics and astrophysics at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, declared last week that the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide are “enormously beneficial”. Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, said in a lecture last week that we should “celebrate carbon dioxide”.

Are these three prominent but very different people right?

Richard Rahn from Cato: Destroying the Economy in Order to Save It

If  one phrase encapsulated the Vietnam War, it was this: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Those in the political class in Washington have learned nothing, but perhaps more accurately, many don’t care if their policy proposals and actions cause more misery than benefit.

On Sept. 29, Congress held a hearing on the rules proposed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would likely destroy much of the small-dollar loan industry and drive many low-income and poor credit-risk people into the arms of loan sharks.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bruce Moon: Rangiaowhia incident

As long ago as 1815, J L Nicholas observed that "amongst the moral vices to which many of the New Zealanders are prone, may be reckoned the odious practice of lying, in which they too frequently indulge ... [it is]seldom of a harmless nature ... to serve their own interested purposes".[i]

There is much evidence to show that today, two hundred years later, the same practice continues.  The Tainui tribes are one such source, a 2014 example under the heading "The Latest Tainui news from Eraka's Blog" being the following.

Mike Butler: Keep the flag flying

A country’s flag is not a branding logo to be changed every generation, according to publisher John McLean in his 20-page booklet titled Keep the flag flying.

McLean, who has written several books on New Zealand history and was an officer with the Royal New Zealand Naval Volunteer Reserve, is adamant that a country’s flag is an enduring symbol of an enduring nation.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Gerry Eckhoff: Climate Change Lecture

The recent lecture by Sir Geoffrey Palmer on climate change held at Otago University does highlight some rather interesting issues. It also appears that scorn and derision inevitably follow a question from any intrepid soul brave enough challenge the latest circulating theory on climate change.

The venerable Sir Geoffrey is something of an authority on NZ constitutional law and related legal matters. It is a rather heroic assumption however that his status within the legal profession qualifies him to deliver an address at the University as any sort of authority on the environmental science of climate change.

Matt Ridley from the UK: Some policies to fight climate change have done more harm than good

The Volkswagen testing scandal exposes rotten corruption at the core of regulation. Far from ushering in a brave new world of cleaner air, the technologies adopted by European car makers, driven by policy makers in Brussels, have been killing thousands of people a year through an obsession with lowering emissions of harmless carbon dioxide, at the expense of creating higher emissions of harmful nitrogen oxides.

There is a lesson here that goes much wider than the car industry, the clean-air debate and even the regulation of business. The scandal is a symptom of the political world’s obsession with directing and commanding change, rather than encouraging it to evolve.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Karl du Fresne: A light-bulb moment in Arkaroola

Years ago, I watched a rugby league test on TV in a remote tourist spot in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia. The match was between the Kiwis and the Wallabies and I suspect I was the only New Zealander among the 20 or so people in the TV lounge.

When the Kiwis scored, I couldn’t help letting out a triumphant whoop. It was probably not a smart thing to do.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Karl du Fresne: At least he's consistently barmy

Jeremy Corbyn, the recently elected leader of the British Labour Party, has been described as a throwback to 1970s-style socialism. He even looks like one, his face being adorned with what one commentator described as a 1960s political beard.  
You could describe him as the accidental leader. When his name was put forward, few people took his bid seriously. His 32 years in Parliament were distinguished only by his record of voting against his own party whenever it deviated from cloth-cap leftist orthodoxy.

Matt Ridley from the UK: How to cure old age itself

Squeezed between falling birth rates and better healthcare, the world population is getting rapidly older. Learning how to deal with that is one of the great challenges of this century. The World Health Organisation has just produced a report on the implications of an ageing population, which — inadvertently — reveals a dismal fatalism we share about the illnesses of old age: that they will always be inevitable.

This could soon be wrong. A new book, The Telomerase Revolution, published in America this week by the doctor and medical researcher Michael Fossel, argues that we now understand enough about the fundamental cause of ageing to be confident that we will eventually be able to reverse it. This would mean curing diseases such as Alzheimer’s, heart disease and osteoporosis, rather than coping with them or treating their symptoms.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Brian Gaynor: How KiwiSavers react to a market downturn

There have been a large number of letters in the media over recent weeks from concerned KiwiSaver investors. These investors are worried about the downturn in the world’s equity markets and the impact this will have on their portfolios.

Comments include; “we are a bit concerned we’ve bitten off more risk than we can chew”, “we have some concern about our KiwiSaver accounts”, “why would I not change to a lower-risk fund now, before the market truly takes a beating?” and we want “the flexibility to move into cash quickly when the market takes a dive”.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Rick Caddick: Rates - the Elephant in the Room

Criticism of the property based rating system has become more intense in recent times, as rate demands have outstripped the cost of living, wage increases, and inflation.  But criticism of the system dates back to the 1930s. 

The late Sir Ross Jansen, probably New Zealand’s most experienced and knowledgeable authority on local government, for a long time advocated for the abolition of rates, which he described as “antiquated – long past their use-by date – unfair and unpopular, hurting the elderly and those families on low incomes.”

Lindsay Mitchell: Paying out benefit-liability $ to Tuhoe

MSD has released a commissioned report about decentralising welfare to Tuhoe.
"Tūhoe is a relatively young population with high levels of unemployment, welfare dependency and low incomes....
In 2011 the Crown entered into a relationship agreement with Tūhoe in which it acknowledged the mana motuhake of Tūhoe and its aspirations to self-govern. Tūhoe have their  aspirations to become independent of the Government, generate its own revenue and become self-sustaining. MSD has asked whether or not it is feasible to transfer a portion of the Crown’s liability to Tūhoe."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Richard Rahn from the Cato Institute: Hillarynomics

If Hillary Clinton were to be elected president, what economic policies would she propose and what would be the effect on the economy? To try to get an answer, I have looked at her statements, her campaign website, and her Senate record.

Mrs. Clinton has recognized the major economic problem of slow growth and stagnant incomes, and her economic platform is called, “A plan to raise American incomes.”