Monday, May 16, 2022

Sean Plunkett: Political puff pieces funded by your tax dollar

Imagine being a support party for an incumbent government with a general election eighteen months away, the polls show the tide is going out for you and your big party mate and the pundits are picking a close-run thing come polling day.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get a 90 minute documentary made about one of your most high profile MPs and have it aired on a major TV channel, shared on social media, and replayed on demand across the internet. That sort of publicity and exposure might just be enough to tip the scales of the election in your favour, to get you, and the big party you support, back into power.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get someone else to pay for the whole thing, if you didn’t have to raise money through donations or declare the funding through the electoral commission.

Mike Hosking: Govt's Covid spin won't fool us anymore

Ashley Bloomfield was back Friday to spook you again, just like the good old days. The trouble for the Government's fear campaign is it's over. It’s a bust.

It's the evolution, or the anatomy, of a campaign that for a while was highly successful. A lot of us believed the fear and the predictions. A lot of us hung on every word of the epidemiologists as they became household names and seemed to have some idea of how the future worked.

After a while reality dawned on an increasing number of us when we started asking how come little, if any, of what they said came to pass. The accuracy was astonishingly non-existent.

Breaking Views Update: Week of 15.5.22

Monday May 16, 2022 

Marae to host ceremonies as part of council’s new te reo plan

Citizenship ceremonies in Invercargill are set to take place at marae, as part of the Māori Language Strategy Plan the Invercargill City Council approved this week.

The plan was presented to councillors by governance operational administrator Merania Tupara and leisure and recreation general manager Steve Gibling, and provided information about what the council could do to fulfil its partnership obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi and the Māori Language Act 2016, and support the revitalisation of te reo Māori.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Ian Powell: I’m sorry I haven’t a clue; parody in action

I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue is a famous BBC radio and television show, billed as the antidote to panel games and launched in 1972. A parody of panel shows, it features two teams of two comedians each being given “silly things to do” by a compere.

The show is still going strong, and is now being replicated in the restructure of primary and community care in Aotearoa New Zealand.

This restructure is part of the Government’s wider restructuring of the health system including the abolition of district health boards (DHBs) which are the statutory points of connection between central government and the local design, configuration and delivery of health services.

Karl du Fresne: The Callinicos fire is still smouldering

Remember the saga of Moana and Judge Callinicos? You know, the case of the little Maori girl whom Oranga Tamariki removed from her Pakeha foster parents, who had given her a loving and secure home for the first time in her short and miserable life, and placed with a Maori family she didn’t know so that her cultural needs could be met? And how two senior judges – the so-called Heads of Bench – interfered in the case after the then acting head of Oranga Tamariki, the late Sir Wira Gardiner, complained that Family Court judge Peter Callinicos (who ruled that Moana should stay with her Pakeha carers) had “bullied” Oranga Tamariki social workers who gave evidence in the case – social workers whose conduct Callinicos was scathingly critical of? And how Callinicos had to remind his judicial superiors that it was wrong to approach a presiding judge during a part-heard case, since it might compromise the judge’s impartiality? And how the Judicial Conduct Commissioner looked into the case without even bothering to interview Callinicos and found that the Heads of Bench hadn’t acted inappropriately? And how it eventually emerged that an even more senior judge – from the Supreme Court, no less – had involved himself in the case behind the scenes and given his opinion? (You may pause for breath here.)

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Point of Order: Kelvin Davis does not mention the $5m cost of handouts (and we wonder what’s “trough” in te reo?)

The Point of Order Trough Monitor almost missed the handout of some $5 million to Māori tribes, the announcement of which was preceded by a press statement headline and 300 words of te reo.

Having found the English text a few paragraphs down in the statement, we were disappointed to find no monetary measure of the government’s generosity to the chosen tribes. But who got how much can be found on the website of the Office for Māori Crown Relations, an agency which – if ACT was to call the shots after the next election – would be abolished.

That promise triggered Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson to demonstrate what he learned in Charm School by saying of ACT leader David Seymour: 

Bryce Edwards: What happened to the big “immigration reset”?

The Government promised a major reform of New Zealand’s immigration system, but when it was announced this week, many asked “is that it?”

Over the last two years Covid has turned the immigration tap off, and the Government argued this produced the perfect opportunity to reassess decades of “unbalanced immigration”. A “reset” was promised, and expectations built up that something quite significant was in the works.

Last year a “pathway to residency” was created for up to 165,000 existing visa workers. This had a hugely positive impact for those migrants, and was also a pragmatic solution when borders were closed, and labour shortages hit home. It was, however, a “one-off”, and the real issue has always been what will happen once borders fully re-open.

Don Brash: Neither Te Tiriti nor the Treaty implies co-governance

On 13 May Newsroom carried a column by four writers at Victoria University under the heading “Commitments to equality in Te Tiriti mean co-governance”. In attacking those who disagree with that proposition, they particularly cited Hobson’s Pledge, for which I am one of two spokespeople.

But in arguing that Te Tiriti requires a radical departure from democratic principles in favour of co-governance what they fail to explain is why their arguments differ so fundamentally from what nearly every authority on the Treaty has believed since 1840.

They fail to note that Governor Hobson said, as each chief signed the Treaty, “now we are one” – he certainly didn’t say “Now we are two and shall remain ever thus”.

Breaking Views Update: Week of 8.5.22

Saturday May 14, 2022 

Tūwharetoa agrees to multi-million dollar lease with Taupō's council

The Taupō District Council has agreed to pay $1.27 million a year for 25 years to lease its new administration building off a Ngāti Tūwharetoa commercial partnership.

Under the agreement, Te Whare Hono o Tūwharetoa Ltd Partnership will buy the former Taupō RSA site at 67 Horomatangi St off the council and build and own a three-storey building on the site, leasing 3000sq/m to the council.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Eric Crampton: Budget previews

One key to happiness is not letting your expectations run ahead of what is possible, as that only leads to disappointment.

But what has been announced thus far makes for a depressing Budget Day.

You might have hoped that inflation running close to 7% might finally trigger a long-overdue overhaul of the income tax thresholds.

Minister Robertson has already ruled that out. Inflation-adjusting the tax bands would give more to richer people than to poorer people, so he will not do it. A worker at the median wage and salary income now hitting the 30% tax band on the last few dollars earned may not find that comforting.

Oliver Harwich: Bridges to Ukraine

International junkets for public servants are not my cup of tea. But I will make an exception for the New Zealand Transport Agency, Waka Kotahi. Let’s send their infrastructure team to Ukraine.

Waka Kotahi’s trip will not be about showing solidarity with Ukraine. That is what politicians do. Justin Trudeau just visited Kyiv, so maybe Jacinda Ardern will soon follow.

Waka Kotahi will not share lessons from its ‘Road to Zero’ campaign with the Ukrainian government, either. President Zelensky would probably not spend $10,000 on two large red prop ‘zeros’ as Waka Kotahi has just done.

No, Waka Kotahi’s trip to Ukraine will focus on learning about infrastructure delivery.

Yes, you read that right.

Point of Order: Finlayson calls for a robust debate on co-governance – but then he disparages naysayers as “the sour right” and “losers”

Co-governance was aired by The Detail team on Radio New Zealand this morning in a broadcast which featured former Attorney-General Chris Finlayson, who also served as Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations.

Reporting on the broadcast, Newroom said The Detail had examined the question “what is co-governance?” and had found out it’s not a new concept.


Did they not know about the co-governing of the Waikato River as a consequence of the Tainui Treaty settlement, or about several similar arrangements that have accompanied other treaty settlements?

Having acknowledged the concept is not new, the Newsroom report further said

Point of Order: The weight of numbers (and opinions) on the bench in Roe v Wade is instructive when we consider the meaning of “treaty partnership”

The way in which judges can grant rights – or remove them – has been glaringly illuminated by the leaked draft opinion of the United States Supreme Court that strikes down Roe v Wade.

A spokesperson for the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand said the ruling was a stark reminder that women’s rights – and reproductive rights more broadly – were “vulnerable to erosion”.

True. Or, on another day in another court, those rights might be expanded.

Roe v Wade had been a landmark decision in 1973, when the US Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

Mike Hosking: The more radical governments go, the more pushback they get

Bit of reading you might be interested in if you follow the Australian election campaign.

It's a piece about Clive Palmer and how he will do well in Victoria; look up "Palmer's People" in the Sydney Morning Herald. You may see a trend or two that could play out here next year.

Meantime, in Australia, although it isn't over, it looks like the tide has gone out on the Australian government. The tide always goes out on a government; it just depends on timing and competence.

That's trend one for us, the tide is going out on this government. It's not completely out, but the competence factor is playing a big part as more and more of us wake up to the ineptitude and lack of delivery. Not to mention the race and ideological aspects of their plans. All polls this year have the Government behind the opposition.

Karl du Fresne: The Free Speech Union meeting that earned a trigger warning from Salient

The latest edition of the Victoria University of Wellington student newspaper Salient contains an account of the recent Free Speech Union event at the university, at which I spoke.

It’s prefaced with a trigger warning advising, in bold type: This article examines some of the racist, transphobic, sexist, and otherwise harmful content discussed at the event in question. Please exercise caution when reading.

My first reaction was that this was written as a satirical comment on the preciousness now rampant in Western universities and the hysterical aversion to any ideas that run counter to woke-think. Alas, no; it was deadly serious. I forgot that this generation of students isn’t noted for its sense of humour.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Bryce Edwards: How long until National wants Simon Bridges back?

Could it be a case of not appreciating what you’ve got until it’s gone? The National Party lost Simon Bridges last week, which has reinforced the notion that the party still has some serious deficits of talent and diversity.

The major factor in Bridges’ decision to leave was his failed bid to regain the party leadership. He was rolled as leader in 2020, and in 2021 he was again rebuffed by his colleagues, in favour of Christopher Luxon. Yet Bridges will be missed, and it’s an understatement to say that National is the poorer for losing him.

He was a talented leader – possibly their best out of the last four or five. He was also an incredibly valuable frontbench politician for the party. Without him there, the chances of National winning power in 2023 have been reduced.

Kate Hawkesby: If you were an overseas tourist, would you really come to NZ?


In another case of theory versus reality, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash is telling us we’re open as a country, but tourism groups and others will tell you – we’re not really.

The thing holding us up? The Covid testing regime our government insists on keeping in place. 

The problem with it is twofold.

Heather du Plessis-Allan: The Government seems to have gone soft on slashing migration


The Government has finally announced its long-awaited immigration reset in the last 3 hours. 

So, here’s a first take on what it looks like: 

Depending on what industry you’re in and what job you're trying to fill you are either stoked or gutted with today’s announcement. 

Because that is really the theme here: picking winners. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Karl du Fresne: Squeeze your eyes shut, cross your fingers and hope

The Three Waters project is a con and a fiasco on every level.

First, it fails to satisfy even the most basic democratic test. A system in which the nation’s water infrastructure is run by opaque “entities” where 16 percent of the population wields 50 percent of the power (and that’s assuming the representatives of the iwi elite truly speak for all people of Maori descent, which is far from assured) makes a mockery of representative government.

Second, and in addition to the above, it severs the links by which the public is able to exercise control over infrastructure that it owns. The recent attempt to overcome opposition to Three Waters by tweaking the shareholding arrangements, so as to create an illusion of financial control by councils, was a feat of prestidigitation that fooled no one.

Wendy Geus: A moment of silence please for the death of free speech

Russell Rimmington, former Chair of Waikato Regional Council, is the first major casualty of the Government’s radical He Puapua policy. He was sacked for having an opinion, contrary to the politically correct view of the day. When discussing the polarising Three Waters policy earlier this year, he dared to express concerns over:

“Māori gaining control of water and that farmers and horticulturalists could be at their “beck and call”.

Some of his colleagues stated that the comment was ‘racist’. Really? Isn’t giving one race power over another racist?

Denis Hall: More on the Treaty

The Treaty of Waitangi; Isn’t it time we consigned it to the scrapheap of history.

The Treaty is a worn and tattered document from 182 years ago – nearly ten generations - and it’s relevance is long since gone. We – all of us – live in a completely different world now – and instead of just the two races who signed this thing living in this country then – there are perhaps as many as a hundred now.

A hundred different races - and the first two can't reconcile the reality of where we began and what we have now - and more to the point - where all that stuff came from.

None of it came from Pre-European Maori Culture.

Garrick Tremain: Pollster

 Garrick Tremain on political surveys

Mike Hosking: Shutting NZ off to the world will cost us dearly

As I have said a number of times, my biggest frustration with this country at the moment is it is not what it could be.

And it's not what it has been. We lack an aspiration and determination to be great.

We are muddlers, we are dabblers and we are led from the top by a bunch of out of touch theorists who have provided an unprecedented amount of damage to our culture and economy. We have largely worked this out, that’s why the polls are where they are.

Those who voted Labour were conned. Unless, of course, you still love them, which you are entitled to do. But I wonder what there is to love.

Bryce Edwards: Massive Wage Subsidy and Covid spending is under scrutinised

In the lead-up to the Budget, the Government has been on an offensive to promote the efficiency and quality of its $74 billion Covid Response and Recovery Fund -especially the Wage Subsidy Scheme component. This comes after criticisms and concerns from across the political spectrum over poor-quality spending, and suggestions that vested interests and business have been the main beneficiary of opaque and poor decision-making.

Good news about the Wage Subsidy Scheme

On Monday, the Ministry of Social Development released their report, “Who received the 2021 Covid-19 wage subsidies”. This highlighted the usefulness of last year’s subsidy, which amounted to $5 billion, selling it as having helped pay the wages of 47 per cent of those in jobs. The unprovable inference attached to this is that these jobs might have otherwise disappeared. The report also detailed the different demographics that benefitted from the scheme.

Point of Order: $55 million for a bashful bunch of builders and a belated patch-up on the Solomon Islands

Another day, another Crown:iwi partnership, this time a deal between the Government and Toitū Tairāwhiti to build homes for families “who need them most”. In this case ethnicity is the critical factor in determining this need.

On the international front, meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahua has named a new high commissioner to Solomon Islands, presumably (and belatedly) to repair the “relationship failure” she acknowledged when she confirmed that New Zealand, Australia and other Pacific nations were caught out by China’s security deal with Solomon Islands.

Mahuta said of the appointment:

Net Zero Watch: BBC climate editor made false claims on global warming, BBC confirms


In this newsletter:

1) BBC climate editor made false claims on global warming, BBC confirms
Daily Mail, 10 May 2022 
2) Paul Homewood: Two BBC complaints upheld against climate editor
Not A Lot of People Know That, 28 April 2022

John Franklin: “I am not Pakeha, I am a Kiwi.”

Have you ever filled in a form, especially one from the government, and the closest ethnic definition that you can select is Pakeha or European or Pakeha/European, yet you identify with neither?

Regrettably, I have been coerced and have selected Pakeha or European rather than make a new category under “Other” and hand write in “New Zealander” or “Kiwi”.

I find it unacceptable that despite our feedback over several decades, the government are still coercing the Pakeha identity on New Zealanders with European ancestry and am sure other ethnic groups have a similar frustration.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Mike Hosking: Government wastage is totally out of control

A couple of good clues as to why we have such wastage of government spending and how the psychology behind it suggests it won't change under the current government.

We have had the revelations so far this week over the millions for consultants on Three Waters, it’s $20 million and counting.

The Zoom job fair that attracted next to no one yet cost a bit under a million to run with even the Minister acknowledging it didn’t take off the way they thought it would.

And now, a report into just how many jobs were supported by the wage subsidy scheme.

This, by the way, is a report from a ministry that along with every other ministry has more people working in it, given the Government has been on a hiring spree, with the broad belief, as outlined in the op-ed piece yesterday by Chris Hipkins, that more is always better.

Clive Bibby: Is reparation enough or is there another way

I find it hard to work out what is fair compensation for misdeeds suffered by Maori at the hands of my ancestors.

Given that New Zealand appears to be the only country in the world taking its colonial history seriously enough that something more than an apology is offered to those whose tribal land was confiscated by the state, some would say that the Waitangi Tribunal process provides adequate access to justice.

Others, particularly the more radical elements of tribal leadership, want more - even on top of the “full and final” agreements entered into in “good faith” by both negotiating parties. And apparently, they are legally entitled to expect bonus payments as part of their specific deals. Is that fair?

What does this mean for the settlement process and its continuing influence on future race relations in this country?

Caleb Anderson: An Educational Imperative

I attended a meeting of principals recently where it was suggested that schools should focus on climate change, now that covid appears to be on the wane.  The argument was put that climate change constitutes the greatest challenge this generation of students will face, and they need to be prepared to face this.  Later in the week, the media ran coverage on the gender pay gap, bemoaning allegedly persistent pay differentials.  The way that ideas are frequently presented as incontrovertible facts concerns me.

How rigorous is the climate change data?  Is the data on pay differentials nuanced to allow "like for like" comparisons, or is this ideologically motivated?  Both of these issues are presented as though the evidence is unequivocal, both have preoccupied the left for some time, both are accompanied by bold and often unsubstantiated claims, and both have given rise to questionable and costly social policy initiatives, globally.  While many of these mitigating initiatives are proving to be monumental failures, proponents of both of these issues (often the same people) persist with a near cultic fervour to advance the cause at any cost.  Proponents are very fast to attack those who question some of their core assumptions, even when their questions are very good, reasonable, and necessary.  And the media adds to the collateral damage by engaging in deliberately superficial analyses.

Derek Mackie: The Manchurian Candidate

X: Premier Xi of China
T: Chris Trotskyer - a left-wing journalist 

X: Please, take a seat Mr Trotskyer 
T: This is a great honour, sir…your excellency…your magnificence. 
X: Premier Xi is quite sufficient. 
T: Thank you. I never thought in all my years as a committed left-wing, pro-communist journalist that I would ever be in the presence of one of my heroes of the revolution. 
X: Come now, Mr Trotskyer, we are all equal under communism.  May I call you Chris? 
T: Please do. It is a privilege to be on first name terms with yourself….Xi. 
X: Xi is my last name, Trotskyer! I thought you would have known that. 
On second thoughts my official title will do. 
T: Oh God…I mean Buddha. I’m so sorry. I’m just very nervous. I will, of course, use any title you wish and, just to be clear, I am a committed atheist, like yourself. 

X: Enough! Let’s get down to business, as you westerners like to say. 
My ambassador in New Zealand has recommended you as a suitable candidate to infiltrate and influence the weak and incompetent socialist government you have there. 
We wish to undertake an experiment in spreading our glorious communist ideology throughout the West. But, we must not run before we can walk. So, we have decided to start small and use your country as a test before we move on to bigger and more valuable prizes. 
Ultimately, we hope to destroy the great capitalist empire of the United States. 
T: What a great day that would be. I am willing to help in any way I can. 

Bryce Edwards: Politicians talk tough on law and order

Crime is becoming a key debate between Labour and National. This week they are both keen to show that they are tough on law and order.

It’s an issue that National has a traditional advantage on, and is one that they’re currently getting good traction from. In response, Labour is keen to counter this by also posing as tough on crime.

Politicians are all responding to public concerns about law and order. The issue of crime is rocketing up the political agenda, especially with so much reporting on ram-raids and gang activity. Recent polling shows that concern over crime is much higher than over other big issues such as climate change, tax and immigration.

David Cohen: New Zealand's Maori language obsession is baffling Kiwis

New Zealand’s borders have finally reopened after a two-year Covid shutdown. But those who travel down under are in for a surprise. Prime minister Jacinda Ardern recently said that New Zealand is ‘not the same place it was ten years ago’. As far as the local language goes, she’s certainly on to something, as newcomers are set to discover.

Planning to go anywhere near the site of the country’s deadly 2019 volcanic eruption? That’s White Island, right? Erm, not quite. It’s Whakaari, actually. How about that perennial drawcard, the garden city of Christchurch, with its tidal wave of English roses and other pilgrim flowers? Try saying Otautahi. Ditto the nearby city of Dunedin, which used to bill itself as the Edinburgh of the South Island and even offers degree courses in Scottish studies at the local university. Otepoti, please. Oh, and the South Island? Te Waipounamu, thank you very much.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Guy Steward: Reflections on Education

I recently retired from school teaching.

It started thirty-five years ago, when, in my late twenties, I got a job in South Auckland taking after-hours music classes. You didn’t need to be trained, just able to play the guitar. I remember the first lesson – a row of kids in front of me wielding guitars of every shape and size, and a row of watching parents behind them. From there, over the years, the contexts and subjects have been many and varied and I eventually ended up in secondary teaching and then pre-tertiary foundation. For the last thirteen years I was blessed to teach in supportive academic environments.

The rewards have included bustling campuses, successful students, engagement with great colleagues and outstanding educationalists, long-standing friendships, and personal character growth. I’ve taught all kinds of students, from excellent to good to average to atrocious. Challenges are there as with anything. But I still recommend it as a career to anyone sensing the call. The rewards come with the challenges and vice versa.

Mike Hosking: The Govt's knee jerk reaction to crime and ram raids is embarrassing

So let me get this straight, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says we don’t want a knee jerk reaction to crime and ram raids.

The Police Minister says the accusation that they are soft on crime is a sexist comment, crime is all about the gender of the minister.

The Police tell us repeatedly they have the resource they need.

And yet, all of a sudden, we have half a billion dollars for crime, $100 million of which is for the gangs. Another group of which we are told are not remotely as bad as has been reported.

Go figure.

And that in a nutshell is this government - they are unable to see trouble, they are unable to accept a problem, they are unable to apologise and they are unable to recognise a problem brewing and act in advance.

Gary Judd QC: Lawyers must reject co-governance and coercion

New Zealand is faced with a determined push for a momentous political change called co-governance, but really a devolution of power to an unelected tribal elite who have been described in Cabinet papers as ‘iwi/Māori’. Giving powers of veto and more, co-governance will enable iwi/Māori to impose their will on the ordinary people of New Zealand. Chris Trotter’s Co-governance: New Zealand’s own Catch-22 in LawNews (Issue 10) argues that we should surrender to coercion and avoid violent revolution. I say co-governance is wrong and surrender to coercion is wrong, but we should thank Chris Trotter and LawNews for unveiling the agenda.

Free inquiry, reason and persuasion

Thomas Jefferson was educated as a lawyer and the law was the activity of his early years. He is best known as the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and one of America’s founding fathers. Amongst Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, written around 1782, are principles of a civilised society. He said: “Reason and free enquiry are the only effectual agents against error. … Reason and persuasion are the only practicable instruments. To make way for these, free enquiry must be indulged; and how can we wish others to indulge it while we refuse it ourselves.” If independent individuals use free inquiry and reason to persuade others, the right answer is more likely to be forthcoming. The consequences of suppressing free inquiry and demanding compliance are graphically demonstrated by historical experience such as when Galileo was subjected to inquisition and condemned to house arrest until his death in 1642 for the heresy of suggesting that the earth revolves around the sun. The dialogue induced by free inquiry, reason and persuasion helps to sort out the right from the wrong, the correct from the incorrect.

‘Un-ordinary’ prepared to sacrifice liberty and democracy

Trotter’s profoundly disturbing, indeed horrifying message is that the political and bureaucratic establishments’ submission to demands for co-governance is motivated by a desire to avoid “a full-blown revolution”.

NZCPR Newsletter: The Toxic Co-Governance Agenda

The Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill is dead – and long may it stay that way. The Bill attempted to introduce co-governance with the effect that it advantaged voters on the Maori Roll over all others.

The final blow was the ruling by the Attorney General that by breaching the constitutional principle of equal representation for everyone – a cornerstone of our representative democracy – the Bill was discriminatory.

This fact that co-governance has now been found to be discriminatory must surely signal an end to this whole toxic agenda.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Ani O'Brien: Time to end decades of continuity

This week Simon Bridges walked away from politics - well from the parliamentary kind anyway. He will, in my opinion, be the one who got away. The one with all the makings of an excellent Prime Minister, but for whom luck was simply not on his side.

The chaos of the Muller coup that dethroned Bridges from National Party leadership, despite the party polling higher than the Government, is ultimately responsible for depriving New Zealand of an intelligent Māori Prime Minister who saw power as the means to achieve his vision for a better New Zealand rather than power for power’s sake.

In his valedictory speech this week, Simon Bridges sent a clear message to the colleagues he leaves behind:

"You were elected for your values, principles, character, and judgments, and to be bold in pursuit of them."

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Ian Powell: Baldrick’s ‘cunning plan’ - a health restructuring without a transition plan

On 21 April 2021 Minister of Health Andrew Little announced a major restructuring of Aotearoa New Zealand’s health system involving three main changes to take effect on 1 July 2022. Better understanding the third of these changes is helped by drawing upon Baldrick of the Blackadder television comedy.

The first two changes are commendable; the establishment of the Maori Health Authority (MHA) and the new crown public health agency (located within the Ministry of Health). They both have the potential to sharpen the effectiveness of addressing the impact of external social determinants of health, wellbeing, and access to quality patient care treatment.

Establishing these two new entities does not of themselves disrupt or destabilise the health system. Both new entities could established without any other restructuring, aside from transferring some functions to them presently performed by the health ministry.

But the third change does disrupt and destabilise the health system; the abolition of district health boards (DHBs). DHBs are the ‘point of connection’ between central government and healthcare provision and treatment both in communities and public hospitals.

Henry Armstrong: Ardern’s Undrip Plan – The Co-Government “Softening Up” Process Begins

A pre-Anzac weekend statement by Maori Development Minister Jackson (21 April 2022) refers to an “indigenous rights plan”, which is being worked upon by Maori-but is not to be released for public consultation until at least June.

In a carefully-crafted press release, Jackson selectively releases “feedback from the first phase of targeted engagement with Maori on developing a plan to implement UNDRIP”. Note the lack of engagement with anybody else?

Mike Butler: Burnt church atrocity refuted

A new book titled Hoani’s Last Stand – the real story of Rangiaowhia by Piers Seed refutes once and for all allegations that in 1864 British troops attacked a defenceless village in New Zealand and burnt to death women and children sheltering in a church.

Here the word “refute” is used with its correct meaning, of proving that something is wrong. Some mistakenly use “refute” when they should use “reject” or “dismiss”. Only the fictional boy wizard Harry Potter can utter a word make something bad go away.

John Bishop: Three Waters is still a shameless asset grab

”How did Three Waters go so badly wrong?” asked the newspaper headline.

From the Government’s point of view, the answer is that it hasn’t gone wrong. The scheme to grab assets paid for by ratepayers over many years and put them into four new entities well out of reach of ratepayers is still going ahead.

These entities will be governed and managed in accordance with “the principles of the Treaty, Te Mana o te Wai and mātauranga Māori, tikanga Māori, kaitiakitanga, and te ao Māori”, according to the various Cabinet papers on the subject.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta trumpets that councils will still own the assets, which isn’t even sort of true. Councils may own the assets, but they certainly will not control them.

It would be like owning a house which you can’t live in, where the tenants set the rent, and you can’t get rid of them. Yes, you still own the house, you just can’t exercise any real control over what happens in it, but you still pay the bills.

Oliver Hartwich: Too much of a good thing

Successful economies have low unemployment.

However, these are no ordinary times, and New Zealand’s ultra-low unemployment rate of 3.2% should worry everyone.

But let’s start with the positives. There are so many jobs available in New Zealand, anyone looking will have no problem finding one.

It is not a statistical fluke, either. With more than 2.8 million people in paid work, employment in New Zealand has reached an all-time high.

If the labour market is so good, what could possibly go wrong?

Dr Bryce Wilkinson: How do “we” fairly tax the rich?

Last week, Inland Revenue Minister David Parker gave a speech titled “shining the light on unfairness in the tax system”.

His speech defended an Inland Revenue investigation into the “tax paid by the wealthiest New Zealanders relative to their economic income”. He is proposing a Tax Principles Act in this context.

Parker assured us that this was in the interests of fairness, not envy. Yes, really.

In arguing that the tax system should probably soak the rich more, he asserted that:

Breaking Views Update: Week of 1.5.22

Saturday May 7, 2022 

Environment unit to be run by iwi, paid for by Taranaki Regional Council

An independent iwi environment unit is being set up as Taranaki Regional Council grapples with increasing Treaty of Waitangi obligations.

Two full-time equivalent workers will be chosen by iwi of Taranaki, paid for by the council, and administered by Te Kotahitanga o te Ātiawa.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Bryce Edwards: Have the Greens become too woke for their own good?

The Greens have been almost invisible since the 2020 election. Despite massive crises impacting on people’s lives, such as climate change, housing, inequality, and the cost of living, they’ve had very little to say.

On this week’s highly contentious issue of politicians being banned from Parliament by Trevor Mallard, the Greens have demurred, saying it’s not really an issue for them. Co-leader Marama Davidson channelled her more conservative impulses, commenting that all activists simply need to face up to the consequences of their actions.

Greens neutered on the big issues

Point of Order: The govt knocks down old state houses and builds new ones – but the net result is a waiting list that cries out for demolition

It was a simple question about housing and Point of Order listened closely to Housing Minister Megan Woods’ response.

Alas, we are none the wiser on one part of the question, about advice on how long it will take to get the waiting list down to around 5844. But – if we have done our sums correctly – we can tell readers there has been a hefty increase in the numbers of people on the state housing waiting list over the past five years.

We took a crack at working this out after Parliamentary questions were put by National MP Chris Bishop to the Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing), who presumably was not in Parliament at the time. Megan Woods did the answering.

Bishop asked:

Mike Hosking: Gender pay gap solutions are artificial

Another of these strange made up claims this week masquerading as a report that suggests the solving of a problem, or perceived problem, can only happen if we changed the way we did things.

A group called Mind the Gap likes the idea of forcing companies to publish their wages on a gender basis thus embarrassing them in paying more to women.

The claim is, if we did this, we could increase females' pay by up to $35 a week.

Graham Adams: Brand destruction hits the mainstream media

Many different kinds of disasters can help destroy a company’s brand.

Electronic devices that start smouldering in your pocket, for example, can damage trust very quickly — as Samsung found in 2016 after it failed to adequately test its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, which began spontaneously combusting.

Last year, Facebook’s wholesome image of linking people with “friends” took a beating after a former employee-turned-whistleblower revealed that its algorithms deliberately send users tumbling down rabbit holes.

And Twitter’s selective censorship that has seen it ban a sitting US President while allowing officials from despotic governments to continue using the site to spread propaganda and justify violence against minorities has severely damaged its standing as a social media platform.

Laziness, sloppiness, stupidity and plain greed by employees, managers and boards can effortlessly achieve similar results in destroying any brand.

Exactly what motivated New Zealand’s mainstream media chiefs to help destroy their most valuable asset — trust in their editorial independence — by accepting a share of $55 million in government cash, with strings attached, remains a mystery given the obvious pitfalls.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Graeme Reeves: Cooke on Partnership Treaty of Waitangi

Co–Governance is predicated on the assumption that the Treaty of Waitangi created an equal Partnership between Maori and the Crown.

Is that assumption correct?

The term Partnership was first used in the context of the Treaty in the Court of Appeal case (New Zealand Maori Council v Attorney-General [1987] 1 NZLR 641) in what is referred to as the Lands Case in 1987. In particular the obiter dicta (not the ratio decidendi) in the judgment of Justice Robin Cooke who was the President of the Court of Appeal at that time.

Since the publication of the He Puapua report and its eventual public release, a great deal of debate about the report’s expressed goal of the division of New Zealand into two separate sovereign states has ensued.