Sunday, March 31, 2024

Dr Eric Crampton: Public service cuts and context

Richard Harmon's Politik newsletter provides a bit of the context that ought to have been showing up in other media reports on potential reductions in public service staffing.

Media has been reporting on staffing cuts on the order of about 7%. Is that a big number or a small number relative to growth in the overall public service?

Garrick Tremain: Zebras

 Here is Garrick Tremain's cartoon commentary on the zebra crossing debacle! 

David Farrar: Dolphins vs SailGP

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon believes the cancellation of SailGP  racing in Lyttleton following dolphin sightings speaks to New Zealand's “obstruction economy” and its level of “red tape”.

However, he acknowledged SailGP organisers agreed to protocols concerning environmental protection and said a balance needed to be struck between running “world-class events” and protecting the environment.

David Farrar: Empathy for those affected

It is important to differentiate the need to trim back the massive increase in the public service, with the impact it has on individuals and their families.

The next few months will be a very challenging time for many public servants. They face possibly losing their own job, but also there being very few new jobs to apply for in the next few months. This means that they have to worry about paying the mortgage, kids expenses etc. No-one should lose sight of this.

Professor Mark John Costello: Marine protected areas safeguard more than ecology

Marine protected areas safeguard more than ecology – they bring economic benefits to fisheries and tourism

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been used as a conservation measure for decades, but critics continue to argue that evidence of their economic benefits is weak, particularly with regard to fisheries.

Roger Childs: A Law unto Itself – the Waitangi Tribunal

This process (decision making by the Waitangi Tribunal) has no checks and balances, no accountability to anyone, and there is no recourse to appeal. –Piers Seed

Showing up the Tribunal for what it is

In his second history book, Christchurch writer Piers Seed provides a fascinating and highly perceptive analysis of what’s wrong with the Waitangi Tribunal process. Entitled Taonga and Contra Proferentem, the author examines how the crucial Maori word taonga has evolved from meaning “property” and all that entails, in the early 19th century. Today in making judgements on claimants’ cases, the Tribunal allows taonga to mean “anything you care to name” in the guise of the wonderfully vague word “treasure”.

Todd Stephenson: Free speech goes both ways

Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark recently found himself in a media furore as he asserted his right to use colourful racial terms. Ratepayers might regret the distraction from local concerns, but part of my job in Parliament is to consider speech issues in a serious way.

And I’ve come to a conclusion. Free speech is indeed under threat in New Zealand.

David Farrar: Ipsos Issues Monitor Feb 24

Ipsos has published their excellent Issues Monitor for February 2024. Below I look at key findings, and compare them to 12 months ago.

Dr Guy Hatchard: Action to Face the Medical Crisis Can No Longer Be Postponed

Government inquiries seldom change reality. Public submissions to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into COVID-19 Lessons Learned are now closed and the Commissioners blandly note on their website:

“The submissions we have received will be considered alongside other interviews conducted and evidence received to form the Inquiry’s final report.”

Lushington D. Brady: Word to the Wise, Auckland Uni

We Had a Near-Identical Case in Australia

Word to the wise, University of Auckland: quit while you’re ahead.

Here in Australia we’ve already seen the debate over racially segregated spaces at universities played out, and it did not work out well for the segregators. And that was without even a firebrand senior government member on the case.

Brendan O'Neill: The Lord Haw-Haws of Hamas

Why are so many supposed leftists spreading propaganda for religious fascists?

Imagine going back in time, a decade or so, and telling anti-fascists that one day they’ll be doing the bidding of fascists. Imagine telling anti-racists that they would soon become propagandists for racists. Imagine telling those woke campus feminists, the sort who thought that being propositioned at the student bar was ‘rape culture’, that in the not-too-distant future they’d be making excuses for literal rape. They’d have thought you mad. And yet it’s happened. Many of yesteryear’s self-righteous haters of bigotry have morphed into the Lord Haw-Haws of Hamas – one of the most bigoted movements on Earth.

Saturday March 30, 2024 


Saturday, March 30, 2024

Dr Michael Bassett: Labour's crime legacy of the last three years

The Labour Government lost the 2023 election when its support halved from 2020. It deserved to lose on economic grounds alone. Covid lockdowns that went beyond the prudent and wrecked livelihoods in the name of saving lives; an orgy of careless spending of borrowed money; and a failure to ensure that the 16,000 extra bureaucrats improved crucial services in meaningful ways; plus sloppily handled infrastructure plans, were all counts against Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson and Chris Hipkins.

David Farrar: Evil vs Evil

The attack by islamic state terrorist in Moscow was an act of evil. 133 innocent people died. Islamic State is an evil organisation.

The response of the Putin Government was also evil, albeit in a lesser way.

Max Salmon: Too complex

How complex is too complex? My new report for the New Zealand Initiative, Cabinet Congestion: The Growth of a Ministerial Maze, poses this question with respect to the executive branch of New Zealand’s Government.

New Zealand’s executive is incredibly powerful. Its members control the levers of state power through its departments and agencies. Everything from healthcare to roads, education to foreign policy, is within its purview.

Breaking Views Update: Week of 24.3.24

Saturday March 30, 2024 

Highly rated rangatahi workshop ends as funding stripped

Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa (Massey University), an innovative workshop teaching rangatahi about science, can no longer continue due to the government cutting the funding.

It was funded by the Ministry of Business, and Innovation as part of its national strategic plan He Whenua Hihiri i te Maha (A Nation of Curious Minds).

Net Zero Watch Samizdat: Soaring Energy Bills

The headlines:

EU climate plan is shelved following farmer protests across Europe
Fox News, 25 March 2024

Climate fatigue: EU hits roadblocks in reaching green milestone as elections loom
Financial Times, 28 March 2024

JC: The Government Has the Left in Shock

Those who vote for a government have every right to expect it to carry out what it campaigned on, certainly its main policy planks. In the past there has been no end of criticism of governments who have failed to do so or, worse, have done something entirely different.

This government is to be congratulated on its first hundred days during which it has implemented most of what it campaigned on. Much of it repealing Labour’s legislation designed to hold the country back. Legislation to implement the present government’s agenda is being worked on at pace.

David Farrar: Common sense wins again

Simeon Brown announced:

Cabinet has agreed on the coalition Government's direction of travel for a new Land transport Rule to be signed by the end of 2024. This new rule will reverse the previous government's blanket speed reductions imposed on motorists across New Zealand, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.

Peter Dunne: Trading partners

Ever since Britain joined the old European Economic Community in 1973 New Zealand has been on a quest to secure reliable, long-term markets for our sheep meat, beef and dairy exports.

First, we settled on Iran as a potential market from whom we could import cheap oil in return. The Shah of Iran even visited New Zealand 1974 to strengthen the burgeoning relationship. But that all fell over when the 1979 oil crisis struck, and the Islamic revolution toppled the Shah's regime.

Dr Bryce Wilkinson: Budget Policy Statement 2024 - A call for vigour in challenging times

The new Government’s Budget Policy Statement, released yesterday, reflects the daunting fiscal challenges inherited from the previous Labour-led Government’s tax-deficit-and-spend policies. We empathise with the current Government’s predicament, having to navigate the consequences of excessive spending, high inflation, and a recession.

Friday March 29, 2024 


Friday, March 29, 2024

Penn Raine: What a load of rubbish!

Ignoring the Greens because they’re crazier than a crate of snakes is my default setting although it’s hard work failing to notice that their leaders jet en masse to COP, steal stuff probably made in sweatshops and appear to support slavery.

But it’s not just Green MP’s who need a good talking to - Auckland Council, I’m looking at you.

The Thinker: Segregated spaces at Auckland University - why the surprise?

When the recent controversy broke concerning the “designated area for Maori and Pasifika Students” at the University of Auckland, I reflected on an article I read authored by a Law Lecturer at Auckland University on 5th June 2020. The title of the article was “Time to Dismantle our rotting house”. The article is still available online.

“Time to Dismantle our rotting house” was written by an Auckland University Law lecturer in response to and inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. The article links the “black struggle”  in the United States with that of “black” and “brown” folk in New Zealand.

John Porter: This review is not about apportioning blame

“This review is not about apportioning blame.” So said Hawke’s Bay Regional Council Chair Hinewai Ormsby,  when announcing the review into the performance of Hawkes Bay Civil Defence Emergency Management, post the devastating flooding associated with Cyclone Gabrielle, one of the most devastating weather events to hit New Zealand.

Tropical Cyclone Gabrielle devastated the North Island of New Zealand in February 2023.

In business, you are accountable. Mistakes carry a penalty. People are fired for incompetence. Why is it in the parallel world of government and the public service, the reverse is the case?

NZCPR Newsletter: Spotlight on the Courts

“Houston, we have a problem!”

New Zealand’s Supreme Court – the highest court in our land - has been captured by activist judges.

What is heartening, is the emergence of a wide range of eminent legal voices all openly criticising the Court and calling for this problem to be addressed.

Mike's Minute: Hipkins is a hypocrite on tax

I've been surprised this week by the amount of coverage Chris Hipkins managed to get himself around tax.

If you think about it, he didn't say anything specific, and certainly nothing new. The left generally argue the tax system is not fair.

The trouble is he had a chance to do something about it but, living up to the ongoing reputation of his and Ardern's Government, failed to deliver.

Cam Slater: Like They Care What the Media Thinks

Newshub is stoking the fires against David Seymour and Winston Peters, expressing outrage about what both have said about the appalling segregation occurring at Auckland University. Their headline screams they are facing criticism:

David Farrar: More claims against Tana

Stuff continues to break stories about Green MP Darlene Tana. The TLDR version is:

* A migrant claiming they are owed $25,000 and were sometimes paid under the table

* A second worker has also lodged an Employment Relations Authority (ERA) claim for lost wages

Dr Eric Crampton: Public health warnings for public health advice

We all have our strange little hobbies.

I keep an eye out for mentions of a shonky old estimate on the social cost of alcohol. When it turns up, pulling on the thread can be great fun.

Back when I was an academic at the University of Canterbury, Sir Geoffrey Palmer was leading a review into alcohol legislation. He cited a dodgy-sounding BERL figure on the purported social cost of alcohol as motivation for some of his work. Matt Burgess and I dug into BERL’s figure.

Dr Oliver Hartwich: Luxon's challenge - Fiscal discipline or tax cuts

New Zealanders recently learned about a new feature film. It will be about former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – and taxpayers will subsidise it to the tune of NZ$800,000.

Ardern had nothing personally to do with either the film or the subsidy. But her government’s loose spending habits left New Zealand’s public finances in a parlous state. That includes items like throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars at a hagiography for a retired politician.

John MacDonald: I could never be a teacher

One thing I know with absolute certainty is that I could never be a schoolteacher.

A few more people might be saying that today after the news that the behaviour of school kids in New Zealand has worsened over the past two years, making them among the worst-behaved in the OECD.

David Farrar: Bad GCSB

A quite stunning report by the Inspector-General of Intelligence. He has found that the GCSB hosted in New Zealand a signals intelligence system controlled by a foreign partner agency, and failed to even mention it to their Minister, or indeed their incoming Director!

He finds that the capability operated at GCSB:

Dr Peter Winsley: Biochar for productivity and climate change mitigation: What are we waiting for?

If you wanted to invent a country best placed to manage climate change it would look a lot like New Zealand. An island nation in the middle of a vast ocean, since oceans take the rough edges off some climate change extremes. Mountainous, with abundant water, hydropower resources and geothermal power. A high coastline to land area ratio and in the “Roaring Forties”, assuring high wind power capability. Low cost, high carbon wood to underpin new sustainable development opportunities.

Thursday March 28, 2024 


Thursday, March 28, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 28/3/24

Past plans are undone by a government keen to make the most of ocean resources and cut that “dam red tape”

Waves of rain are set to lash much of the North Island during Easter Weekend as a low-pressure system forms east of New Zealand, according to a weather forecast published in the past day or so.

Niwa was warning of a “moisture-laden” long weekend, with rain expected to fall on eastern and northern holiday hotspots.

Professor Robert MacCulloch: Hipkins' 2026 Election Strategy is Already Obvious

Hipkins' 2026 Election Strategy is Already Obvious - he wants NZ to fail so he can argue asset taxes are the only way out (which will make things worse).

The No-Principles Labour Party Leader, Chris Hipkins, was led by his focus groups & in-house pollsters to drop capital & asset taxes as a platform to fight Election 2023. They told him proposing such new taxes would be a losing strategy. Consequently he threw former Revenue Minister, David Parker's, plans back in his face.

Cam Slater: Imagine If the Sign Said ‘Colored Only’

There are some folk who haven’t realised that Kiwis rejected racism, separatism, and segregation at the last election. The parties which promoted those policies, Labour, Green and Maori, got bundled out of office. Now a storm has erupted over a sign at Auckland University.

Act got into the debate, as has Winston Peters:

Gary Moller: Is tribalism the greatest threat to our liberal democracy?

The other day, my grown son visited the doctor for a minor concern and was surprised when they didn't charge him. Despite his offer to pay, they refused to accept it. Interestingly, I also went to the doctor for a minor issue, but was charged $80 for the brief ten-minute visit. The reason for this discrepancy is clear: I am a retired white man, while my son is a working man with brown skin, just like his mother's complexion. We are a family divided by privilege based on our skin colour (race, or tribe). So, also, increasingly, is the entire country.

Suze: NZ Muslims Are Yet to Object Publicly

It’s one and the same for fringe minorities seeking public affirmation through exploiting great chasms of tolerance embedded in our Christian-based law but the answer is not to adopt law changes instilling intolerance, but to nip the opportunists in the bud.

Trannies did it in public libraries up and down the country until Brian Tamaki recently cottoned onto their penchant for openly subjecting young children to flamboyant eroticism. He then campaigned against library events, successfully shutting down the Rotorua Public Library event after canvassing local support and threatening the Hastings City Council with the same.

Alwyn Poole: School Lunches: The $324million question (or ten questions)?

1. Why are some children in NZ going hungry in 2024?

2. What is it about our welfare system that needs to be fixed to ensure every child receives breakfast, lunch and dinner via their parents or caregivers?

3. Prof Boyd Swinburne stated this week that the school lunches have improved school attendance by 3 days a year (.75 days per term, 0.075 days per week) and had shown some mental health improvements. Is the $324m on food the best way to do that? How about the mental health gains from actually doing well at school – not just eating a sandwich?

Dr Eric Crampton: Anti-Money laundering laws hurt competition, and vulnerable groups

It isn’t that there are never $20 notes lying on the footpath, it’s that when markets are working well, there are strong incentives to find and pick them up. A $20 note shouldn’t have to wait very long before being grabbed.

When someone insists there are $20 notes on the footpath, it’s a good idea to check whether it’s simple and legal for someone to go ahead and collect them. If it is, are we sure the free money isn’t a mirage? If it isn’t, that tells us where the work needs to start.

Ele Ludemann: Minding other people’s business

What drives people to mind other people’s business?

. . . Her name — and her number plate — are the same: Karen. And now an email from Waka Kotahi NZTA has told her that someone, somewhere has complained about it.

Apparently the complaint to NZTA says:

David Farrar: The UK shows why it is one of the most tolerant countries there is

Vaughan Gething has just been elected as First Minister of Wales. He is black (his mother is Zambian) and this makes him the first black leader of a country in Europe.

John MacDonald: What a bunch of pushovers we are

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We are the People’s Republic of Pushovers.

This time, we’ve been pushovers over this apparent cyber-attack on Parliament and spying on our politicians by China.

It happened two-and-a-half years ago, but it was only yesterday when we heard about it. It was something of a staged announcement with the United States and Britain, which were also targeted.

Kerre Woodham: Should you put caveats on second chances?

When it comes to second chances for people, do you put caveats on those second chances?

So you're allowed a second chance, but you must refrain from being in the public eye. Or you're allowed a second chance, but you must always present a subdued demeanour and never look as though you're enjoying life ever again.

Wednesday March 27, 2024 


Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 27/3/24

After hogging out on the Budget Policy Statement, media had less appetite for science reform “plan” (which is to seek advice)

The media – sure enough – have been binging on Finance Minister Nicola Willis’ release of the Budget Policy Statement and a statement headed Government announces Budget priorities

This assures us – or rather, this parrots the Luxon team mantra – that the Budget “will deliver urgently needed tax relief to hard-working New Zealanders” while putting the government’s finances back on a sustainable track.

Mike's Minute: Why are we surprised about China?

It was hard to watch the China spying coverage yesterday without wondering what all the fuss was about.

It had an air of breathlessness about it, as though this had come as some sort of surprise.

Does the fact China spies on people honestly come as news to anyone? I guess hacking, as the PM suggested, is new, but spying and hacking... it's all nefarious skulduggery, isn't it?

Simon O'Connor: What was suspected, is now exposed

While the hacking of Parliament's computer systems by China does not surprise me, it is something we must take very seriously. Is this perhaps the wake-up call New Zealand needs?

Some may find it extraordinary to think that New Zealand’s largest trading partner thought it perfectly acceptable to hack into the heart of our democratic system - the computer servers of Parliament. That China has done so is as deeply worrying as it is symbolic. While this is the first time our intelligence services have acknowledged an attempt on our parliamentary computer systems by the Chinese Community Party (CCP), it is certainly not the first time Chinese state-sponsored cyber-attacks have occurred here in New Zealand. These attacks are frequent and wide in their application.

Sir Bob Jones: Government departments excesses the working from home fiction

A week back I had lunch with two of the capital’s best known citizens.

At one stage the subject turned to the working from home nonsense and we enjoyed ourselves citing examples we personally knew of various “working from home” shysters busy building a new deck, on the golf course and so on.

Cam Slater: SFO Loses Third Case: Time to Rein Them In

Yesterday the SFO lost their appeal in the Court of Appeal in the long-running NZ First donations case. This is the third case the SFO has lost and it is not surprising as they tried to shoehorn Electoral Act offences into criminal charges. The Court of Appeal was having none it, and now Winston Peters is seeking an apology for their behaviour.

David Farrar: Unaffordable and Undeliverable

The Herald reports:

Of the currently estimated $280 billion required to deliver these investments, only $80 billion has been appropriated.”

Officials warned that the $280b cost of that investment “far exceeds the funding available”.

Professor Robert MacCulloch: Can TV One Sided News Stop Misleading the Public

Can TV One Sided News Stop Misleading the Public on Vital Matters of State affecting our economic futures

OneNews strikes again - breaking the law by reporting biased news when it has a statutory obligation not to do so. Time it's sold off or broken up. The "news" team aren't worth the celluloid their faces appear on. Today they're screaming the headline, "Aucklanders are sceptical of the Mayors Ambitious Plans". Mayor Len Brown wants to sell Auckland Council's small minority holding of 10% of publicly listed company, Auckland Airport Ltd, and lease the port's business operations. It's a no-brainer for most economists.