Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Lindsay Mitchell: Writing off beneficiary debt

There is a call from anti-poverty activists for the government to write off beneficiary debt which has grown to over 2.3 billion dollars.

Acquiescing to this demand would create an ever-growing snowball.

Next for consideration would be student debt; debt to the Ministry of Justice for unpaid fines; debt to IRD for unpaid child support payments; debt to Kaianga Ora for overdue rents and more.

Graham Adams: It’s open season on white men

Tusiata Avia’s provocative poem opens the door wide to more robust opinions being expressed in public — but only if you’re brown.

Poet Tusiata Avia — with the help of Stuff’s editors — and Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi have exposed the double standards of what is considered to be acceptable speech in New Zealand.

After Waititi recently posted an image of Captain James Cook being killed in Hawaii in 1779, Avia extended the celebration of his murder to killing his descendants.

Waititi wrote on his Facebook page on Valentine’s Day:

Net Zero Watch: US-Europe trade tensions heat up over Biden's green subsidies


In this newsletter:

1) US-Europe trade tensions heat up over Biden's green subsidies
Financial Times, 27 February 2023

2) Tesla scales back German battery plans, won over by U.S. incentives
Reuters, 21 February 2023

Bryce Edwards: The Need to depoliticise the public service

Is the Chair of Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand, Rob Campbell, trying to rid himself of a job he no longer wants? The idea that he’s trying to get himself fired is the most obvious conclusion to draw from his overt attempts over the weekend to stoke up opposition to the National Party’s Three Waters reform proposals.

The health boss has published his strident views on the National Party and its leader, implying they are being racist. His partisan statement is a clear breach of the code of conduct for senior public servants like himself.

Garrick Tremain: Light Rail vs Roads

 Here is Garrick Tremain's cartoon commentary on the condition of our roads and the light rail project! 

Mike Hosking: Ideas like Julie Anne Genter's are why we have no money

I pray that somewhere in the departments that waste so much of our money, someone, somewhere, has the spine to stand up and tell the rest of the plonkers that what they are doing doesn’t work.

Julie Anne Genter, back in another Government when they gave her a portfolio, came up with the 'Road to Zero'.

That alone was one of the stupidest ideas going, for the simple reason that it set you up for immediate failure.

Heather du Plessis-Allan: More Auckland Transport Trouble

Look, it’s very tempting to have a laugh once again at Auckland Transport for once again, being rubbish at its job.

But actually, this isn’t funny anymore, is it?

This has got to be costing the country money now, with people being unable to get to the places where they earn money and where they learn how to do work.

As you know, we are now in March Madness. This happens every single year; it’s the crazy time of year where the roads get really congested with the Uni students heading back to campus and their classes, school kids back at school, and the rest of us back at work.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Point of Order: Govt gives census officials more time to collect data in cyclone-hit areas...

....and goes global with appeal for recovery funds

The cleanup after Cyclone Gabrielle continues to dominate the outflow of announcements from the Beehive.

Today’s news notably includes something that had been anticipated – the Census collection period will be extended in areas impacted by the Cyclone.

Ministers have announced –

Point of Order: Two views of how the war in the Ukraine is impacting on a small country in the Pacific

Last year, when she was still Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern described the state of world affairs as “bloody messy”. Since then there have been few, if any, signs of improvement. The war in Ukraine delivered an economic jolt to NZ, and its effects have barely dissipated. The war’s expansion would bring more pain for local business and consumers.

Without the military or economic scale to influence events directly, NZ relies on its voice and ability to persuade.

But by placing its faith in a rules-based order and United Nations processes, it also has to work with – and sometimes around – highly imperfect systems. In some areas of international law and policy, the machinery is failing. It’s unclear what the next best step might be.

Chris Trotter: The Road To October.

The National Party stands at the beginning of an unsealed road which, if followed, might just carry it to victory. The question, now, is whether the party possesses the guts to set off down it. Sometimes politicians hit upon a winning strategy by accident, unaware that they have done so. National’s answer to the Government’s controversial Three Waters project may be a case in point. Wittingly, or unwittingly, National’s policy reflects the principle of subsidiarity – i.e. the idea that the best decisions are those made by the communities required to live most closely with their consequences. Set against Labour’s preference for large, centralised (and almost always unresponsive) bureaucracies, National’s preference for the local and the accountable has much to recommend it.

Labour, meanwhile, may find that its road to October has been closed. Rather than proceed with all speed down the path of repudiation and reprioritisation promised by Chris Hipkins when he became Prime Minister, the exigencies of dealing with the Auckland Anniversary Weekend Floods and Cyclone Gabrielle appear to have provided Hipkins’ caucus opponents with a chance to regroup and push back.

Cam Slater: Focussing on the Things That Matter

Any political party that ignores the things that really matter to the voting public is a political party destined for losses. Right now the things that matter to New Zealand voters the most are: inflation/cost of living, housing costs, crime/law-and-order, and healthcare and hospitals.

Guy Hatchard: Open Letter to Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and New Zealand Parliament

The first two months in 2023 present us with a turning point in the legal arguments around Covid-19 vaccination in New Zealand.

To: The Hon. Prime Minister Chris Hipkins

Two publications by the Ministry of Health itself present evidence that within the government there is knowledge that the Pfizer mRNA Covid vaccine cannot be regarded as safe and effective. Therefore from this point in time forward, there is no credible legal defence that the government can advance to cover its failure to openly inform individuals and the public at large of the inherent health risks of Covid vaccines.

Mark Webster: Kauri Position on Climate Change

Kauri’s position on climate change is straightforward. Climate change is real and constant but the proportion of warming caused by increasing atmospheric CO2 is insignificant in the scale of earth processes. This paper summarises the evidence that led to this position and is intended for a non-technical audience; details, including references, can be found in the Kauri submission to the Climate Commission on the Kauri website.

The earth is not a static, stable, benign system and climate is continually changing, driven by large scale processes such as solar cycles, lunar cycles, orbital variations, volcanism, plate tectonics, ocean circulation, gravity variations etc. Our understanding of each of these processes individually is still far from complete, and we have a very poor knowledge of the complexities created by the interaction of these processes over different timeframes. The actual Climate Deniers are those who do not recognise the system is dynamic, and believe the climate should remain static, or that changes can be reversed. There is no climate crisis, just climate change - all measures of climate are varying within ranges that have been experienced even in the brief period of recorded human history. Kauri’s position is based on measured data and repeat observations; not modelling and assumptions.

Bryce Edwards: The Horrific damage caused by forestry slash and vested interests

“Capitalists always want to privatise their profits and socialise their losses” – that’s the traditional socialist critique of how businesses are big fans of state intervention when it suits their interests. There seems to be a lot of that going around at the moment – many industries want government to help them be super-profitable, largely by reducing industry regulation and taxation, despite any damage they might cause.

However, there’s increasingly a public mood against the special pleading of such vested interests. This is evidenced in the criticisms now coming from across the political spectrum about the huge costs that New Zealand forestry businesses have been imposing on society, particularly with the multi-billion-dollar cost of “slash” debris that exacerbated or caused flood damage when Cyclone Gabrielle hit this month.

Garrick Tremain: The owl and the pussycat

 Here is Garrick Tremain's cartoon commentary on political parties all at sea! 

Damien Grant: Why we need to stand up for the Maureen Pughs of the world

“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”

Readers who have had the benefit of a pre-decolonised education may recognise that line from George Orwell’s 1984. It was written by the protagonist, Winston Smith, as he struggles against the demands of the Party that two plus two could equal five.

In Orwell’s now iconic literary achievement, the threat against reason was coming from above. He did not contemplate that those who sought, and succeeded, in controlling how we think and talk could come from below. And yet, here we are.

The latest victim of our new Orwellian reality was Maureen Pugh.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Karl du Fresne: Are we allowed to suggest Hunga Tonga might be to blame for the weather mayhem?

The most powerful volcanic eruption of the 21st century happened on January 22 last year in Tonga.

Scientists measure the force of eruptions using something called the Volcanic Explosivity Index, or VEI. (I learned about this from my teenage grandson, who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of volcanoes.)

The eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai had a VEI of 5 or 6, depending on which source you believe. According to NIWA, it was the biggest atmospheric explosion recorded in more than a century. As a point of comparison, the cataclysmic Oruanui (Lake Taupo) eruption about 26,500 years ago had a VEI of 8. Krakatoa (1883) scored a 6.

Stuart Smith: Coordination, Local Resources and No Red Tape

The scar that Cyclone Gabrielle has left on New Zealand far exceeds the physical damage, it is hard to comprehend the devastation and loss of life and my heart goes out to the families who have lost loved ones.

There are some who have lost their homes, and their livelihood, and it will be a mammoth undertaking to get them resettled and back on their feet again.

Mike Butler: Is treaty confusion deliberate?

A stumble by incoming Prime Minister Chris Hipkins in response to a request from a reporter to name all three of the Treaty of Waitangi articles during his first press conference illustrates the confusion that extends to the highest level.

After an um and an ah, he said "We have Kawanatanga, Tino Rangatiratanga, and, actually no, I can't remember the other, sorry." (1)

Former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern faced the same question in 2019 and could only say “kawanatanga”, and “tino rangatiratanga” after prompting from Labour MP Willie Jackson.

Mike Butler: Two reporters, dogma, and a cyclone

Failure to understand and accept the basic differences between science and dogma raises serious questions about the judgement of two people paid to report the news. In an opinion piece by one of these people posted on the Newsroom site, a kicker said:
"Failure to understand and accept basic scientific facts raises serious questions about the judgment of prospective legislators."(1)
Politicking by these two activists posing as journalists started on Tuesday night when Three News political editor Jenna Lynch reported on National Party MP Maureen Pugh uttering the "heresy" that the climate has always changed, but she was still awaiting evidence that humans are causing changes.

Point of Order: Mahuta heads overseas...

......(but have non-Maori been left out of her delegation?) while Luxon gushes about Nats’ Three Waters plans

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s latest travel plans have been posted on the Beehive website today, advising she is packing her bags to travel to Japan and Singapore tomorrow “to strengthen Aotearoa New Zealand’s connections with Indo-Pacific partners”.

But it seems she is strengthening the connections only for some New Zealanders.

The press statement says:

Brendan O'Neill: The two Zelenskys

Zelensky is neither saint nor sinner, but a leader trying to do his best.

Choose your Zelensky. He can be either saint or sinner. Either valiant repairer of the liberal international order or compliant puppet of the WEF. Either a one-man defender of liberal democracy or a stooge of nefarious globalists. These are the only two Zelenskys. There’s no in-between. He’s either a Guardian editorial made dashing flesh or the willing jester of Davos Man. Take your pick.

Oliver Hartwich: Not your average canape chat

Few people attend business functions because of the speeches. No matter the speaker, these events are usually networking opportunities.

So it used to be with BusinessNZ’s annual ‘Back to Business’ function. In mid-February every year, the lobbying group would invite business and political leaders for drinks and canapes. And the Prime Minister would say a few inconsequential words, too.

That is how it would have been again this year if the Prime Minister had not changed. But with Chris Hipkins having only been in office for a month, the main event was him.

Thus, some two or three hundred guests eagerly anticipated Hipkins’ remarks. They were in for a surprise.

Matthew Birchall: Infrastructure recovery

Cyclone Gabrielle has battered New Zealand’s infrastructure.

Roads, bridges and powerlines across large swathes of the North Island have been decimated. A substation has been flooded. And thousands of homes, farms and businesses lie caked in mud and silt.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has suggested that the rebuild could cost $13 billion. That rivals the initial estimate for the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake.

And it means that the fallout from Gabrielle will be felt for many years to come. The government needs to get its response right.

Kate Hawkesby: In a first-world country we should be able to expect a decent health service, not 'adequate'

As my son marched off for a lung X-ray for a chest infection yesterday, I wondered just how dire the health system was going to get this winter. 

As the weather starts to cool, many are picking up change-of-season coughs and colds and when I look at what happened in post-Covid winters overseas, I worry about how bad it might get here too. 

Health NZ says it’s ‘bracing’ for a tough winter. But it’s not just sickness that may come our way which is worrying, but our ability to cope with it. There is the state of our hospitals, the workforce of frontline health workers, the shortage of nurses, the overworked doctors and the lack of GP’s in many regions.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Clive Bibby: A Clayton’s enquiry - that’s not what we asked for

Readers will forgive me if I use this opportunity to express my concerns about the Government’s response to our particular problems here in Tairawhiti (East Coast) following Cyclone Gabrielle but I do so knowing that other regions like our neighbours in Hawkes Bay will have experienced similar unwarranted brush offs.

In my entire adult life, I have yet to see a cabinet minister stand in front of the citizens of New Zealand trying to defend the indefensible which such feigned indignation. 

Such was the performance of Stuart Nash, Minister for Forestry in PM Chris Hipkins’ Labour Government as the opening item on Thursdays’ TV One Network News. 

Point of Order: We might think we are all equal in Govt’s Trade for All Agenda....

....but Tirikatane reminds us what the Treaty is doing to this notion

BusinessNZ has welcomed the latest of a string of disaster-related initiatives from the Government, this one related to work visas to bring in workers to help with the recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

The new Recovery Visa is intended to cover the mix of workers needed for clean-up and recovery, including construction workers.

The key features are –

Cam Slater: It Seems We Are Led by Donkeys

In the UK there is a constant billboard and social media campaign as stubborn, stuoud and intransigent politicians are called #LedByDonkeys. Now it seems that we need a similar campaign here in New Zealand, especially after Michael Wood decided to share with us all that his spirit animal is a donkey.

Chris Trotter: Adapting To Climate Change.

It is only slowly dawning on climate change activists that the fight against global warming is lost. Locally, Cyclone Gabrielle has rendered their cause hopeless. By insisting that Gabrielle is slam-dunk proof that climate change is real, and demanding immediate action to mitigate its impact, the activists have, politically-speaking, over-sold their case. The idea of mitigating a weather event as destructive as Gabrielle will strike most people as nuts. If this is what global warming looks like, then most New Zealanders will want their government to help them adapt to it as soon as humanly possible. Increasingly, politicians and activists who bang-on about reducing emissions and modifying human behaviour will be laughed-off the political stage. It will be the parties that offer the most practical and responsibly-funded adaptation policies that win the elections of the future – including the one scheduled for October 14 2023.

Peter Winsley: Defending New Zealand’s democracy, and why Shakespeare is Kryptonite to tribalists and ethno-nationalists

Economic history tells us that the best outcomes come from inclusive democracy, secular institutions based on science and reasoning, a market economy with macro-economic stability and micro-economic flexibility, and social risk management policies. New Zealand has such things in place, and yet its democracy and institutions are under attack by advocates for race and tribe-based policies and for constitutional change to transfer power to unelected iwi leaders. What is going on?

Breaking Views Update: Week of 19.02.23

Saturday February 25, 2023 

Law lecturer wins scholarship for Māori financial independence research

University of Canterbury (UC) law lecturer, Rachael Evans, has been awarded an $80,000 scholarship for PhD research investigating how iwi can exercise rangatiratanga (sovereignty or autonomy) through the development of fiscal authority.

“Before colonisation, iwi and hapū with tino rangatiratanga were active political and economic entities making their own decisions according to their tikanga (law) and kawa (rules). They engaged in different forms of economic activity including agriculture, trade and warfare, but were economically self-sustainable,” said Ms Evans.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Ian Bradford: Cyclones - Weather Events Not Climate

We have just seen an example of what has happened all around the world when someone- usually a scientist, dared question the so called “settled science” that humans are responsible for climate change.  By now, thousands of honest scientists have lost their jobs, been victimised, and bullied because they have dared to speak out.  After Maureen Pugh wanted to see the evidence that humans were causing climate change, she received the same treatment from a range of Parliamentarians who haven’t an ounce of science between them.  Then the science illiterate media got in on the act too. Sadly, Maureen, like Gallileo, a long time ago, had to retract.  

I predicted this would happen.  Cyclone Gabrielle would be used by the climate alarmists to further the cause of anthropogenic climate change. 

Mike Hosking: How much of a role will the conspiracists play in this election?

The good thing for David Seymour last week is he got a full house in Lincoln, just outside of Christchurch.

My sense of this election year is that a lot more will be involved and keen to participate.

The most dangerous thing about a democracy is when people can't be bothered. I think the results in some local body contests is teaching us that.

Bryce Edwards: Our politicians are competent firefighters, but terrible builders

The Labour Government has once again proven itself to be very competent in a crisis. Cyclone Gabrielle has allowed Prime Minister Chris Hipkins to demonstrate his impressive disaster management communication.

Labour is very good with the political firefighting required to deal with such disasters – as they have shown in the past with their response to the Christchurch mosque attack, the Whakaari White Island eruption, and the initial stages of Covid.

And, in fact, the last National Government wasn’t too bad at crisis management either. John Key and Bill English received plaudits for the way they dealt with the global financial crisis, the Pike River disaster, and the Canterbury earthquakes.

Karl du Fresne: Luxon, Pugh and the media - oh, and press secretaries too

The irony of the Maureen Pugh furore is that it has caused far more damage to Christopher Luxon than to Pugh.

Luxon has come out of it looking like a control freak, intolerant of any deviation from the party line.

This should surprise no one. He comes from a corporate background, and the corporate world values conformity above almost everything else. Original thinkers are seen as problematical and even threatening. Conventional men who play golf and wear suits are naturally most comfortable in the company of other conventional men who play golf and wear suits.

Graham Adams: This Govt’s True Legacy

The PM’s tenure as Minister of Education has given NZ school students a racialised and unbalanced curriculum

Even if Chris Hipkins is no longer the Prime Minister after October’s election, his legacy will be locked in for some time.

Chances are it won’t be on account of his role as Prime Minister over the next seven months — or his time as Minister of Police, Minister for Covid-19 Response, Minister for the Public Service, or his brief period as Minister of Health.

Cam Slater: Patrick Gower Is Right, This Time

It must be a red letter day: for once I am in agreement with Patrick Gower as he slays the attack on Maureen Pugh by her own leadership. He describes Christopher Luxon’s handling of the issue as “demeaning” and “all for show”.

Brendan O'Neill: It’s true – the climate fanatics are coming for your car

It’s not a conspiracy theory to believe the green elites don’t give a toss about working people.

Taking the meme ‘Everyone I Don’t Like Is Hitler’ to dizzying new heights, now we’re being told it’s far right to want to drive your car. Motorist and fascist, peas in a pod. Protesters against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and so-called 15-minute cities – policies being adopted in various regions of the UK that will severely limit where and how often a person can drive his car – have been damned as hard-right loons. Who but a modern-day Brownshirt would bristle at eco-measures designed to save Mother Earth from car toxins? One author attended this month’s colourful protest against Oxford City Council’s anti-driving policies and decreed that this motley crew of car-lovers are on ‘the road to fascism’. Only they’ll never get there, presumably, given the elites’ penchant for road restrictions.

Heather du Plessis-Allan: We should be pleased Air NZ is profitable

I'm gonna come to Air NZ’s defence.

As expected, the airline just reported a decent profit of $213 million dollars, which is a whopper when you consider the $725 million dollar loss this time last year. It means that business has just done a billion dollar a turn around.

They're already copping it from some for charging too much, and actually have been copping since analysts first started predicting this result two weeks ago.

There is no denying Air NZ has made this money off the back of charging a lot more than they used to. Domestic ticket prices are 15-20 percent higher than last year. 

Alwyn Poole: The Truth about NZ Truancy

The NZ Herald notes that Term 3 NZ School attendance data has finally been released. It also notes that Jan Tinetti admitted deliberately sitting on it (and thus avoiding numerous OIA’s – I assume she blames the previous Minister) since December. They have become so transparent that people now see right through them.

From the Ministry of Education’s data branch (who are very good BTW) this graph is telling.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Derek Mackie: A Tale of Two Chrises

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” 
Actually, it was just the worst of times! 

 Three years of the most extreme, ideologically driven and inept socialist government NZ has ever seen…with a pandemic and cyclone thrown in for good measure. 
Led by a celebrity PM who talked lots and dissembled even more. Aspiration for her was everything, eclipsing achievement every time. And, oh boy, was she good at it! 

 She enabled a group of activists who set about dismantling our democracy in favour of an ethno-nationalist arrangement whereby 17% of the population, claiming to have some Maori ancestry, however tiny, would effectively rule over everyone else. 

Mike Hosking: Maureen Pugh was ill-informed, but she's allowed her opinion

As bad as Maureen Pugh's attempts at climate change debate may have been, on balance, the media behaved worse.

TV3 made it a lead story, which was bad enough, given it wasn’t.

And they made it a lead story not only because Pugh is easy pickings, but because they so obviously and overtly and unprofessionally hate National, even when they keep telling us they are balanced.

Cam Slater: Reserve Bank Slams on the Brakes

The Reserve Bank yesterday announced a 50 basis points hike in the Official Cash Rate, moving it to 4.75%. Your mortgage, overdraft, equipment leases, and credit card costs just ballooned again. The Reserve Bank is trying to do two main things: stave off a recession, and defeat inflation. You can’t do both at the same time, but that is what they are trying to do.

Garrick Tremain: Snap election

 Here is Garrick Tremain's cartoon commentary on snap election! 

Thorsteinn Siglaugsson: The negation of reality in Roald Dahl’s literary classic

Last weekend it was reported how books by the popular children’s book author, Roald Dahl, are now being republished after significant changes to the texts. According to The Guardian, the changes are only about removing “offensive language” from his books. The Roald Dahl Story Company says the changes are minor and only about making the text more accessible and “inclusive“ to modern readers.

Gerald Posner covered the issue on February 19th, citing a few examples of changes, which are certainly not minor; entire paragraphs are removed or altered beyond recognition. There are hundreds of changes, Posner says, agreeing with writer Salman Rushdie who has called these changes “absurd censorship.”

Kate Hawkesby: Govt's denial of any looting in Hawke's Bay smacks of a Jacinda-type approach

There’s a big disconnect happening at the moment between government and locals in the Hawkes Bay area over what’s really going on. 

The Police Commissioner and the PM were both on Mike’s show yesterday saying the reports of looting are just not true, that it’s all the stuff of rumour and gossip, and that it’s unsubstantiated.

But then you have the locals. They’re irate, arguably more irate after hearing the denial of it from government, and saying it is very real, it is definitely happening and they’re traumatized by it. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Point of Order: Pulling the plug on Three Waters

PM is going to wash this plan right out of his hair (by sneakily giving it another name)

This update of governmental news gleaned from our Beehive monitoring owes plenty to Stuff and to Kiwiblog, who have highlighted news based on Chris Hipkins’ first speech to Parliament as Prime Minister.

Mike Hosking: Not all truancy situations are created equal

Is there a clue to attendance and schooling in the enjoyment you derive as a student?

We got the letter from the school yesterday about them clamping down on turning up.

You need notes and good reasons, which you have always officially needed, but it’s got lax over the years, as rules do. But they have clearly got the word from the Ministry so the emails get sent out.

Cam Slater: Luxon Proves He Is a Woke Womble

I’ve said for a long time that the wets inside National will be the end of them. None are more wet with keen interest in woke womble-ism than Christopher Luxon. He’s now decided he needs to give MP Maureen Pugh a good finger wagging and telling off for daring to stand up to a gotcha moment from communist scribbler Marc Daalder about whether or not she is a climate denier:

Clive Bibby: The Emperor fiddles while Rome burns

For those of us living at the epicentre of all the floods that have ravaged our communities since and including Cyclone Bola in 1988, surveying the damage to livelihoods and mental well-being of residents becomes a process similar to grieving for a lost loved one.

Immediately after the initial shock, you go through a period of numbness that only recedes when help arrives in the form of those who genuinely want to provide the assistance in a form that could make a difference.

But sadly, experience tells us that too often the ones who have the capacity to help in a meaningful way are dismissive of the local advice from those best placed to make comparative assessments of the damage caused during each climate event but, more importantly, comparative assessments of the Local and Central Government responses after each disaster.