Thursday, June 20, 2024

Mike's Minute: My thoughts on Luxon and the C-listers

On the fringes of the Prime Minister's Japan trip are two stories.

The first is the plane that needs replacing and the second is C-listers.

I very much doubt whether anyone who matters in Japan really shifted their thinking about New Zealand over such frippery.

Jordan Williams: We can't afford cancer drugs - but can afford this?

While cancer patients wait for the Government to "find the money" to fund desperately needed modern drugs, the very money meant for health research and saving lives is being flushed down the toilet.

At our weekly staff meeting this morning, the research team took me through the latest batch of grant funding decisions by the Health Research Council.

My heart sank.

But first, let's remind ourselves what the Health Research Council is.

Chris Lynch: Christchurch council votes to leave Local Government NZ

The Christchurch City Council has voted to leave Local Government NZ.

Councillor Sara Templeton voted against the move, expressing concern that Christchurch was “slowly but surely” losing any relevance and influence on the national stage.

“We need a strong voice, and as those of us who’ve been members of unions in the past will know, there’s strength in numbers,” she said.

Ele Ludemann: Less safe, less free

A friend was driving me to parliament.

I told her to drop me off on the street. She replied that no, she would take me to the door because she could.

That was a sign of the freedom of access we used to have to parliament, a freedom that was stopped some years ago.

David Farrar: More employers should listen to Alexander

Alexander Wang is in his 20s. He become the youngest self-made billionaire in the world at the age of 24, through his company Scale AI. He is the son of Chinese immigrants. He recently announced his key hiring principle:

Barry Soper: 'Loose lipped apprentice PM' - Fallout from Luxon's 'C-listers' clanger

The Prime Minister’s trade mission to Japan’s been pretty successful but who would have noticed?

Most of the business signed there, like the Rocket Lab agreement to send Japanese satellites into space, is a great yarn.

But the trip will be remembered for anything but the business foray to our fourth most important export market.

It’ll be remembered for a broken down RNZAF jet in Papua New Guinea, and the rescue of the mission by the Air New Zealand boss, who happened to be on the trip with his chairwoman, by diverting a plane out of Auckland to pick them up in Brisbane.

Breaking Views Update: Week of 16.6.24

Thursday June 20, 2024 

Iwi angry at racist Māori ward bill

Taranaki’s Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Ruanui says the coalition Government’s decision to reintroduce populist referendums on Māori wards will further divide the country.

Its taiao officer, Graham Young, says it’s a racist, scare-mongering initiative – and completely unnecessary.

Professor Robert MacCulloch: Have Swarbrick's Greens actually had zero environmental impact....

Have Swarbrick's Greens actually had zero environmental impact, and simply just thrown thousands into poverty?

What has been the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions in NZ these past six years? The CO2 expelled in hot air from the Greens & their travels to and from Wellington, and around the world? Has the Green Party contributed next to nothing in terms of reducing NZ's contribution to global emissions, yet added significantly to poverty & poor local environmental outcomes (like sewerage going into our harbors) by wasting resources on irrelevant projects, with small pay-offs to NZ? Here's some evidence - it comes in the form of this pie-chart of our emissions profile:

David Farrar: 95 days and counting

A month ago I blogged:

There is no way the investigation will have taken nine weeks. The Uffindell investigation took only five weeks to complete, and that was dealing with events from 20 years ago where witnesses had to be tracked down.

Almost certainly the Green leadership have the report, and have had it for some time. They don’t need to release the report, but they do need to tell us whether it substantiated the claims against Tana, and what the outcome will be.

JC: I for iPhones – I for Intelligence

I enjoyed reading Steven Joyce’s article in the Weekend Herald, outlining the choice this country faces. His headline “Progress v Protest: The choice is ours” reflected the protests of the weekend before last and commented on the irony of the protest. The participants no doubt possessed many iPhones but not much Intelligence.

Had they possessed more of the latter they would have indeed understood the irony. Should we feel sorry for them? It’s a good question. As Steven points out, if you were to ask them what we should do instead, things that would create higher incomes for all of us, they would stare back blankly.

Dr Eric Crampton: How police alcohol activism risks overstepping the mark

When Guyon Espiner reported on a police estimate of ‘$7.8b harm from booze’, I was curious whether the figure was the old BERL alcohol cost zombie back again from the dead to torment the living.

The BERL number included drinkers’ spending on their own alcohol – not a ‘social cost’ by any reasonable standard. Other costs were counted twice. It was …unsound. Only about a fifth of BERL’s number could count as a social cost by a more standard method.

So, I asked Radio New Zealand for the original documents, hoping to find a source for the figure. No source was cited, but police communications staff later confirmed that the number was BERL’s.

Kerre Woodham: Do politicians need more protection than anyone else?

Gerry Brownlee, the Speaker, wants to boost security for politicians while they're out and about in the community before something goes very wrong. Something has gone pretty wrong in that Green MP James Shaw was assaulted in the street as he walked to work. You'd have to say that was a pretty nasty episode. Gerry Brownlee is considering giving Parliament’s security guards powers to arrest and detain, and to be able to coordinate more with the police diplomatic protection service, which usually looks after the Prime Minister and Prime Minister only.

Wednesday June 19, 2024 


Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 19/6/24

More money flows through the infrastructure pipeline – and Public Works Act changes aim to hasten the flow

Infrastructure is big deal in the Beehive news agenda today.

The government is making it easier to build infrastructure by modernising the Public Works Act.

And it is braying about the billions of dollars being pumped through something called the National Infrastructure Pipeline, which provides a national “view” of current or planned infrastructure projects, from roads, to water infrastructure, to schools

Kineta Knight: SailGP will not return to Lyttelton

SailGP has withdrawn its hosting agreement with ChristchurchNZ for the 2025 Season 5 event which was to be held again in Lyttelton.

The event was last held in Lyttelton in March this year when the first day was called off because a dolphin was sighted on the course. Two other dolphins were spotted in the harbour during the final race in 2023 but racing was allowed to continue.

Today’s announcement follows two iterations of the ITM New Zealand Sail Grand Prix in Christchurch, as part of a four-year partnership with ChristchurchNZ, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited and New Zealand Major Events.

Simon O'Connor: Do we even have a far-left?

It's striking that for all the commentary about the 'far right', you never seem to hear anything of any 'far left'.

Am I the only one getting tired of everything contrary to ‘progressive’ or ‘woke’ values being labelled “far right”?

Every morning I pick up the news and the headlines scream about the rise of the far right, the extreme far right, fascists, and other associated names.

Derek Mackie: Jacinda's "Field" of Dreams

I’m baa-aack!!!!
In the public eye, if not on home soil. Sorry to disappoint. 
I won’t ask if you’ve missed me - we both know the answer to that. The question would likely prompt an uncontrolled and deep felt outburst of raw emotion on your part which would only embarrass us both. 
I’m too empathetic to inflict that on you. 

 Yes Aotearoa, after what seems like an eternity of 18 months in the top-tier academic trenches, fighting the evils of right-wing misinformation; getting down-and dirty in the luxury piled carpets of Harvard, I am once again returning to the world stage, where I Left-ly belong. 

Mike's Minute: What are we going to do about China?

The irony is growing greater by the day.

What to do with China?

The Premier has been in New Zealand and Australia this past week.

We rolled out the red carpet, they announced a visa deal for travellers and they also wanted us to put our differences aside.

Sir Bob Jones: Geniuses in or midst

Who would have guessed it? Hither unbeknown, it turns out we have a brilliant mind-reader living in Auckland.

I refer to the news that 81,000 Kiwis left the country in the year to April, 2024, this spawning a New Zealand Herald correspondent, a Jeremy Coleman of Hillpark, who explained what motivated each of them.

Ele Ludemann: Inconvenient truths for eco-zealots

Radical environmentalists have had far too loud a voice, and put far too much effort into attempting to put the environmental cart in front of the research, science and technological horses with no regard for the economic and social costs.

At last someone is reminding them of some inconvenient truths:

David Farrar: Surely this should get the maximum sentence?

The Herald reports on how Kayla Pawa was kidnapped and tortured by gang members who wanted to access her partner’s cryptocurrency stash. The details include:

Professor Robert MacCulloch: Is PM Luxon on a Trade Trip to Japan or a Corporate Welfare Trip?

Is PM Luxon on a Trade Trip to Japan or a Corporate Welfare Trip? The curious case of Tāwhaki Aerospace.

Newsroom's Emma Hatton reported today that Tāwhaki Aerospace, "got millions of [taxpayer] dollars it wasn’t eligible for". She says, "The runway’s completed & the hangar is almost there, but official documents show Tāwhaki Aerospace was never eligible for the government cash it got to build them".

Heather du Plessis-Allan: I approve of performance pay for the public sector

On principle, I like Nicola Willis' idea of performance pay for the chief executives in the public sector.

It's actually not a new idea, we were doing it until Jacinda's lot got in and Chris Hipkins, the then-relevant minister, cancelled it.

And it was pretty generous, up 15 percent on top of base pay. Since some of those guys in the public sector get paid close to $700,00 a year, that's another $100,000 if they strike their targets.

John Raine: Cultural High Noon in our Universities

Politicisation of our Universities

About a year ago, I first wrote with co-authors on this platform about the cultural shift and de facto politicisation of our universities [1]. By now I thought we might have seen a steadying of the ship and a true course set once again. The current reality is very worrying.

Throughout the Western world the infusion into universities of critical social justice (CSJ) theory and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) politics - now, ironically, exclusionary, racist and intolerant - is producing a generation of graduates steeped in postmodern relativist (frequently anti-science) thinking, embracing identity politics and the victim-oppressor mindset. It has caused division in our country rather than encouraging much-needed unity.

Dr Guy Hatchard: The True Extent of Biotechnology Experimentation—It’s Happening Now

The New Zealand government plans to deregulate biotechnology. What does that mean for our food supply and our health?

A comprehensive presentation by Kate Mason at the recent 100 year Biodynamic Conference in Australia cast light on the true extent of biotechnology experimentation currently underway and also on the techniques being used to deceive the public about its intent and scope.

Dr Bryce Edwards: The Left split from Tory Whanau’s wayward Wellington City Council

Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau has gone from being the hero of the progressive left in Wellington to being seen as the cause of further dysfunction and chaos. And that’s just the view of people on her own political side.

The former Green Party Chief of Staff, who had turned into a corporate lobbyist, and then Mayor of Wellington, had a tough time during the first half of her term in power. But at least she was able to count on the support of the Green and Labour councillors, who pledged to vote for all her initiatives. This meant she had a working majority to get a limited number of things done.

Chris Trotter: Going For Bloke

THE DANGERS of designing a prescriptive constitution are currently on stark display in the Green Party. No doubt with the best will in the world, and anxious to be seen as a good Tiriti partner, the Greens have burdened themselves with a constitutional requirement that at least one of their co-leaders must be a woman, and one a Māori. Confronted with the sad news of current co-leader Marama Davidson’s cancer diagnosis, and the possibility of being tasked with choosing a new co-leader, Green Party members are left facing a self-inflicted conundrum.

Peter Williams: School lunches are not the government’s job

Seymour correct to ask the question

David Seymour’s pushback against the efficiency and value of the school lunch scheme has aroused the ire of tech entrepreneur and self - confessed Labour sympathiser Sir Ian Taylor.

Seymour, after originally wanting to dispense with them completely, now wants school lunches to be cheaper and have less waste from their distribution. As a senior minister in a government facing severe economic headwinds, his desire to save money is understandable.

But Sir Ian is having none of it.

Kerre Woodham: How necessary are resource consents?

Let's start with the announcement yesterday from Chris Bishop allowing people to build small granny flats without requiring consent. It's followed through, the coalition government, on its promise to cut red tape around the resource consent process. The announcement was made yesterday, and they said it will be easier for people to put a granny flat in their backyard without having to go through the hoohah of a costly consent process.

Tuesday June 18, 2024 


Tuesday, June 18, 2024

David Farrar: Where is the Bob Carr defamation suit?

Readers will recall that the media reported breathlessly the statement by former Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr that he was intending to sue Winston Peters for defamation after Peters said Carr was a pawn of China, or similar.

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 18/6/24

Good news for grannies and kiddies – but see what Woods didn’t mention when enthusing about $5.4m aero space boost

Today’s news from our ministerial masterminds is not likely to be the stuff of great controversy

The Department of Internal Affairs is upgrading the Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System, which blocks access to websites known to host child sexual abuse material.

David Farrar: National MP assaulted

The Herald reports:

National MP Maureen Pugh was allegedly assaulted after a Tākaka community board meeting.

Golden Bay Community Board chair Abbie Langford said the incident yesterday afternoon, which allegedly involved a man pushing a placard into Pugh’s chest and others shouting at her, was “a bit scary”.

Professor Robert MacCulloch: Labour's Former Head of Health NZ, Rob Campbell, lectures us (incorrectly)

Labour's Former Head of Health NZ, Rob Campbell, lectures us (incorrectly) about Economics & the Pointlessness of National's Social Investment Method

The former Head of Health NZ, Rob Campbell, has written a treatise on the new Coalition's "Social Investment" approach, labelling it merely a political "slogan". Newsroom, by the way, is partly funded by the Universities of Otago, Victoria, and Auckland, as well as the likes of Bell Gully law firm, to enhance public understanding of important issues. Let's see how Mr. Campbell's explanations of how the new Coalition's Social Investment approach to deciding whether public money is being well spent fulfills that aim. He says that:

Mike's Minute: NZ needs offshore buying

If a mistake was made during the coalition talks by National it was acquiescing to the NZ First demand that they keep people from offshore buying houses here.

National had an elegant solution; anything under a couple of million was out of bounds, leaving that market for first home buyers.

Then, the big end of town was open to the open market.

Mike Butler: Maori wards decision looms

Councillors on the 45 councils that imposed Maori wards once polls were outlawed must soon decide whether to disestablish them, or rescind their decision, or face campaigning in an election in which Maori wards are the issue.

This is unless the coalition government waters down or withdraws the Local Electoral (Maori Wards and Maori Constituencies) Amendment Bill, which is currently under attack from Maori wards supporters during submissions.

Each council must decide during a “transitional period”, which is the weeks between the time when the bill becomes law, which could be July 31, and September 6.

Dr Michael Johnston: Welcome to the machine - opportunities and risks of generative Artificial Intelligence for education

This report calls for a science-based approach to using artificial intelligence (AI) in classrooms. This will help schools get the most out of AI while reducing risks to teaching and learning.

Welcome to the Machine: Opportunities and Risks of Generative Artificial Intelligence for Education, written by Senior Fellow Dr Michael Johnston, will help educators and policymakers navigate the rapidly evolving landscape of AI in education.

Ele Ludemann: Plane sense needed

It is bad luck that the Defence Force Boeing 757s keep breaking down when transporting Prime Ministers, but it has to be more than good luck that the breakdowns happen on the ground. The Air Force wouldn’t be flying them if they weren’t safe.

But there has to be a better way to transport Prime Ministerial delegations, and the troops and freight the planes are also used for than these unreliable planes.

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Just buy two new planes

Well, we're just gonna have to pony up and buy a couple of new planes, aren't we?  

Come on, this is the second time this year that this plane has broken down on Chris Luxon, and if he keeps on insisting on using these old girls, it's definitely not going to be the last time.  

I reckon Al Gillespie made the best argument today for why we should have a plane that works - rather than flying the Prime Minister around the place commercially.

Caleb Anderson: Might the target of the left be Christianity itself?

Nietzsche, a non-Christian, warned that the dissolution of God would lead to nihilism and relativism.  He once commented as follows.

“When one gives up the Christian faith, one pulls the right to Christian morality out from under one’s feet. This morality is by no means self-evident… Christianity is a system, a whole view of things thought out together. By breaking one main concept out of it, the faith in God, one breaks the whole.” (Nietzsche, "Twilight of the Idols").

Clive Bibby: Who cares enough!

A recent TV article focusing on the East Coast Burgess farming family struggling in the aftermath of last year’s cyclone damage to their livelihoods, was a graphic reminder of the human collateral damage from such events but the real tragedy behind the piece is that the magnitude of the problem would have escaped most of the Nation’s viewers. 

While that is understandable in the circumstances, it is nonetheless - very, very sad and highlights the real difficulty trying to find a way to alleviate their suffering. 

David Farrar: WCC gets more divided

The Post reports:

Green councillor Nīkau Wi Neera and Labour councillors Nureddin Abdurahman and Ben McNulty will no longer commit to voting with the mayor’s policies.

The vote to sell the airport shares, spearheaded by Whanau in the Wellington City Council’s long-term plan meeting two weeks ago, was the final straw.

Andrew Dickens: The politicisation of city designs is why nothing ever happens anymore

So I went to a party at the weekend. Quite a swanky one. Negronis and burgers and all sorts of people. Judges and doctors and advertising people and even musicians.

An old mate was there, a card-carrying lefty.

We're chatting and he says he's part of an urbanism group. Studying and advocating for urban development, and he says, "you right-wing ZB types would hate it."

Kevin: Shakespeare Is Back at School, Maybe

The revised year 7–13 English curriculum, to be released in July, is expected to include compulsory Shakespeare and grammar lessons, as well as a recommended reading list ranging from contemporary New Zealand authors to Chaucer and Beowulf.

[…] Teachers are also concerned about the emphasis on traditional literary texts, such as Shakespeare and other works. They worry many students might find these works inaccessible. As parents and teachers await the draft curriculum, it is worth considering what is changing and why.

Kerre Woodham: We're going to have to bite the bullet and get the 757's replaced

You do not have to go back very far to find a news story about a New Zealand Prime Minister having his or her trip disrupted by a shonky 757.

The Prime Minister's trip to Japan, with an accompanying trade delegation, was disrupted over the weekend after the Air Force 757 broke down, again. And it was this time last year, to within a week, that the plane ferrying Chris Hipkins to China set off on its flight with a backup plane flying in reserve, in case the first one broke down.

Monday June 17, 2024 


Monday, June 17, 2024

Professor Robert MacCulloch: Why did Luxon invite big monopoly firms on his Japanese trade trip

Why did Luxon invite big monopoly firms on his Japanese trade trip - and outfits that don't even trade? He should be helping small NZ business.

What was NZ Trade & Enterprise thinking? Its announcement, "A NZ business delegation, led by Air New Zealand and ASB Chair, Dame Therese Walsh, will join NZ Prime Minister Rt Hon Christopher Luxon on a mission to Japan" is truly remarkable.

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 17/6/24

Govt’s overhaul of our firearms laws was well signalled – but health workforce data might cause some surprises

An announcement that the government will overhaul New Zealand’s firearms laws was posted on the Beehive website after Point of Order last monitored what our ministers are doing.

But firearms aficionados could see this coming. If they couldn’t, they should not be licensed.

Mike's Minute: Simon Upton has a message you need to hear

Was Simon Upton watching the vote in Europe last week?

As an outsized group of young people in places like Germany and Italy voted for the right, if not the far right, and didn’t vote for the Greens, despite the Greens being the alleged “go to” team for the young ones, Upton was speaking at the Environmental Defence Society conference.

If you don't know, Upton is the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

Here is what he said;

David Farrar: The difference leadership can make

The Telegraph reports:

In three years, Stephen Watson, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), has turned a failing force that was on its knees into the one rated most improved by the official police watchdog.

How bad was it?

NZCPR Newsletter: Democracy in Turmoil

“As long as I have any choice in the matter, I shall live only in a country where civil liberty, tolerance, and equality of all citizens before the law prevail.”

Those were the words of Albert Einstein, who fled Nazi Germany in 1933 to live in the United States.

How many of the record 55,000 Kiwis who have “fled” New Zealand over the last few months, have left to escape the racism that is now dividing our country?

JC: Jones Calls a Spade a Spade and Wants to Use It

If there’s one politician in the current parliament who stands out as not being afraid to speak out against the woke and ideological left it is Shane Jones. Here is a man who takes no prisoners. What he does take is a pragmatic approach to what he sees as necessary for New Zealand’s economic future, resilience, prosperity and, not to put too fine a point on it, its very survival. Ideology and singing from the songbook of the Greens Sisterhood, as he calls them, is not for him.

Cam Slater: Dodgy Is as Dodgy Does

Stuff continues to drip out unsavoury facts about Chinese involvement to subvert our democracy. We all know about both Labour’s and National’s dodgy donations, where the idiots at the Serious Fraud Office comprehensively destroyed any credibility they had by failing in all of their prosecutions because of the ham-fisted way they tried to shoehorn Electoral Act offences into the Crimes Act. And lookee here: who do we find?