Capital and Coast DHB candidates

There are 20 candidates for seven positions. Not going to go through all 20 candidates, just highlight the ones who seem sensible and worth supporting.

I’m looking for people with governance experience who can make good decisions on complex issues, and oversee $700 million of health expenditure.

A background in health can be useful, but I avoid people who have a conflict of interest and employed or contracted to the DHB. I also avoid people who see their role as a DHB member is to be a political activist, rather than a governor.

Those who looks promising are:

  • Sue Driver – good governance and health background. Former Labour Councillor but very sensible.
  • Fran Wilde – like Driver former Labour but sensible. Great track record of achievement
  • Ross Church – has done a good job as Mayor of Kapiti.
  • Roger Blakeley – has a good background as a central and local government CEO
  • Ana Coffey – current Deputy Mayor of Porirua. Young and effective
  • Tavita Filemoni – don’t know him personally but seems to have a good background
  • John Apanowicz – strong health and governance background

So these are the seven I’ll rank as my top seven.

Arizona Republic endorses a Democrat for first time since 1890

The Arizona Republic editorial:

Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.

This year is different.

The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.

That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.

The Arizona Republic is not alone in this. So far nine newspapers who endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012 have announced their views. Five have endorsed Clinton, three Gary Johnson and one made no endorsement.

The challenges the United States faces domestically and internationally demand a steady hand, a cool head and the ability to think carefully before acting.

Hillary Clinton understands this. Donald Trump does not.

Clinton has the temperament and experience to be president. Donald Trump does not.

For this role, temperament is more important than policy.

Many Republicans understand this. But they shudder at the thought of Hillary Clinton naming Supreme Court justices. So they stick with Trump. We get that. But we ask them to see Trump for what he is — and what he is not.

Trump’s conversion to conservatism is recent and unconvincing. There is no guarantee he will name solid conservatives to the Supreme Court.

Trump as President would be highly unpredictable. He has changed his views on almost every major issue there is.

Trump’s inability to control himself or be controlled by others represents a real threat to our national security. His recent efforts to stay on script are not reassuring. They are phony.

The president commands our nuclear arsenal. Trump can’t command his own rhetoric.

Were he to become president, his casual remarks — such as saying he wouldn’t defend NATO partners from invasion — could have devastating consequences.

I want Eastern Europeans to decide their own destiny, not have Putin decide it for them.

WCC Candidates’ Survey – Northern ward

There are six candidates seeking three positions. Only one candidate has completed the survey (John Apanowicz) so his responses are copied below.

Q4: What is the maximum average annual rates increase, if any, you would vote for over the next three years?

The rate of inflation

 
Q5: Do you support the proposed runway extension for Wellington Airport?
  • Yes
 
Q6: What is the maximum contribution ($ or %) from WCC toward the runway extension you would vote for?

If the Council is to provide funding in any form then it needs a return for the ratepayers. This should either be through increased equity in the airport or via a loan like the Stadium.

 
Q7: Can you give an example of current WCC spending that you would vote against in future?

No

 
Q8: Do you support four laning (through additional tunnels) the Mt Vic and Terrace tunnels at an estimated cost of $250 million?

yes, One of my priorities is finalising a workable solution to the basin reserve congestion. This is part of that.

 
Q9: Do you support a change to the structure of local government in the Wellington Region, and if so to what?

No, it’s not what the region wants.

 
Q10: Do you support the current closing times for CBD bars of 4am. If not, what time would you prefer?

No, 2pm or 3pm.

 
Q11: Do you think WCC should make it a condition for any business tendering for a contract with WCC to pay their staff at least $20 an hour?

No, as a business owner I would be against imposing any conditions on another party.

 
Q12: Should fluoridation of the Wellington city water supply continue?

Yes, I am also standing as a CCDHB candidate and this is a regular question.

 
Q13: If Council had an additional 10% revenue, or $40 million, what would be your priority spending areas?

The arts and infrastructure. Although $40 million does not go far on infrastructure.

 
Q14: Vegemite or Marmite
  • Other (please specify)peanut

DPF Comment: With the exception of the bar closing time questions, Apanowicz seems to have sensible responses.

WWF on Kermadecs

Alex Smith from WWF writes:

Many of you will know that the Kermadec/Rangitahua Ocean Sanctuary, which is supported by 89 per cent  of New Zealanders and 86 per cent of Maori, is on hold while crisis talks are held between the National Party and the Maori Party. This is as a result of Te Ohu Kaimoana (TOKM) pushing for the Maori Party to leave the Government over the bill to protect this ecologically important area. …

One of the first steps taken was to work with Ngati Kuri to get their blessing and support for this important mahi, because we know that conservation doesn’t work without iwi being involved, and that Te Tiriti o Waitangi gives us Pakeha our foot in this land.

Important to note the two Iwi with actual historical links to the area were involved and consulted.

Just over a year ago, the National Government announced it would create the sanctuary, and we, and it seemed the entire country too, were over the moon. Protection for this vital ecosystem was going to happen and New Zealand was going to set up the largest ocean sanctuary in the world. 

There were some rumblings from TOKM and other fishing industry lobbyists, but that came as no surprise. Time and again they have opposed (too often successfully) progressive legislation for our oceans: from the Marine Reserves Bill in 2002, to protection for Maui dolphins, to legislation to protect workers on foreign charter vessels, and pretty much any no-take marine protected area ever suggested. You name it they fight it, tooth and nail.

TOKM are among those who were using foreign flagged vessels which used slave labour. They fought the Government changes to require such vessels to be flagged in NZ.

Then the rumblings got louder. TOKM (which represents Maori commercial fishing interests) claimed the failure to consult with iwi and Maori was inconsistent with the Treaty, and reading the cabinet paper you’d have to say they are right.

Government consultation – whether with mana whenua, the iwi leaders’ group, Maori or fishing interests – didn’t start until after the announcement had been made.

It is fair to say the Government made a mistake by prioritising making the announcement a surprise for a global meeting, over domestic consultation.

But this is where my views diverge from some others who also hold the role of Te Tiriti in Aotearoa close to their hearts. I believe TOKM has used the legitimate anger around the process for developing the bill to get support for its position that it and the wider fishing industry should essentially have a right to veto marine protection in the Kermadecs, and wherever there is fishing quota, which is pretty much the entire ocean.

I don’t think this is right under the Treaty or under the law. Quota, both that held by Maori and Pakeha, has always been subject to regulation to look after the health of our oceans. The fisheries settlement was explicit that the government would still need to (and has the right to) regulate quota in terms of how much, where and what kind of fishing can take place.

And restricting where quota can be fished does not impact the property right associated with that quota. They are still allowed to catch the same amount of fish – just not in some areas.

It has to be that way because if the fishing industry has a right to veto marine protection, we will have no more effective marine protection.

There have been 20 marine reserves created, and none have had demands for compensation because again your rights to quota can easily be met in the areas outside the reserves. If you need to compensate for every marine reserve created, then there won’t be any more.

WCC Candidates’ Survey – Lambton ward

There are eight candidates seeking three positions. All eight candidates have kindly completed the Kiwiblog candidates’ survey. The candidates are:

What is the maximum average annual rates increase, if any, you would vote for over the next three years?

  • Troy Mihaka – I would like to see Rates increases capped at inflation.
  • Mazz Scannell – CPI.
  • Tony Jansen – Peg any increase to the rate oif inflation
  • Brian Dawson – I don’t have a figure in mind, as it will depend on what the needs are. I am comfortable with similar amounts to this year IF there are good reasons for needing the money
  • Dave Gee – I will not vote for any increase.
  • Nicola Young – Freeze at inflation
  • Milton Holland – Up to three per cent. Since 2000  NZ CPI  inflation has averaged 2.7% (according to Reserve Bank information).
  • Iona Pannett – I won’t commit to any increase or decrease until we have undertaken consultation with the community and discussed what the priorities will be for the next three years. If the community wants cuts in Council spending, I will support those but want clear feedback from them about what should be cut.

DPF comment: Only two candidates have said they would have a cap – Brian Dawson and Iona Pannett. Holland has a 3% cap. Four candidates (Mihaka, Scannell, Jansen and Young) want it no more than inflation and Gee would not vote for any increase in rates at all.

Do you support the proposed runway extension for Wellington Airport?

  • Troy Mihaka – No
  • Mazz Scannell – Yes
  • Tony Jansen – No
  • Brian Dawson – No
  • Dave Gee – No
  • Nicola Young – No
  • Milton Holland – No
  • Iona Pannett – No

DPF comment – Seven candidates are against and only Scannell in favour

What is the maximum contribution ($ or %) from toward the runway extension you would vote for?

  • Troy Mihaka – Zero Dollars. As it stands, I am opposed to the funding of the runway extension. Until a solid business case has been brought forward, showing a clear return of investment for Wellington, at which point I will review my opinion.
  • Mazz Scannell – 33% of Infratil’s contribution
  • Tony Jansen – Nil. It is Think Big 1980’s lunacy!
  • Brian Dawson – My ‘no’ vote above reflects my concern over the lack of a robust business case thus far. In the event such a case is presented I would be willing to consider funding to the same percentage as the council’s stake in the airport company
  • Dave Gee – Zero. There is no demand from airlines, Infratil aren’t interested in putting in their share (66%), and frankly I don’t trust the numbers that are being promoted by the current council.
  • Nicola Young – 34%; in line with WCC ownership
  • Milton Holland – Nil, not as matters stand because a business case has not been made. Airlines haven’t committed as long haul passenger demand is said to be  insufficient (and air freight, mostly cut flowers, is  too costly), while the majority shareholder in Wellington Airport, Infratil, doesn’t want to pay its proportionate share of the cost  (which would mean ratepayers subsidising them).  (I’d like a Golden Gate Bridge spanning the harbour from the Miramar Narrows  across to the other coast and access to south Wairarapa, with the airport to be located there, but that will remain a fantasy.)
  • Iona Pannett – Given I do not support it at this current time, I do not believe that the Council should make a contribution.

DPF comment – Mihaka, Jansen, Gee, Holland and Pannett against any contribution, Scannell, Dawson and Young favour in line with shareholding.

Can example of current WCC spending that you would vote against in future?

  • Troy Mihaka – I would have voted against the budget increase for the construction of the Movie Museum. If the building designers already are having trouble creating something iconic, but within budget, I am concerned this may lead to additional costs during construction.
  • Mazz Scannell – Island Bay cycleway
  • Tony Jansen – Runway & Harbour Channel Dredging.
  • Brian Dawson – Not as such, although I have concerns about the commitments to the Chinese Garden for example. I would also like to see a suitable remuneration policy adopted which sets clear connections between top and bottom wage earners.
  • Dave Gee – Runway Extension. Movie Museum and Convention Centre. Doing up the Town Hall. Corporate Welfare (e.g. Paying Singapore Airlines to fly here). Poorly Designed Cycleways. And for the record, Light Rail and Pedestrianising Lambton Quay.
  • Nicola Young – Revamp of Frank Kitts Park ($5.5m = 90% of this year’s general rates increase)
  • Milton Holland – Frank Kitts Park redevelopment (a waste of $5 million ); a proposed Oceanographic Centre (aquarium), unless a significant contribution is forthcoming from some  body like NIWA or Victoria University; the secret development funding for corporate welfarism.
  • Iona Pannett – Under the Local Government Act, we are required to keep an open mind before voting so I won’t answer a question about what I would vote for and against but I do have concerns about the runway extension, Frank Kitts Park upgrade and money being used to support liquor bans.

Do you support four laning (through additional tunnels) the Mt Vic and Terrace tunnels at an estimated cost of $250 million?

  • Troy Mihaka – I do. I believe that adding capacity to these tunnels will be the best way to alleviate traffic congestion at these points
  • Mazz Scannell – Yes
  • Tony Jansen – Partially. Not wedded to the government’s ideological fixation with roads
  • Brian Dawson – Not at this stage. I would need to see the outcomes of the Get Wellington Moving work currently underway, and would prefer to have some real-world trials of cheaper and more regular public transport so we can get a better idea of how that might impact on vehicle numbers.
  • Dave Gee – Yes. Although as a State Highway I would expect the government to cover much of the cost. But the council needs to be counted on as a reliable partner.
  • Nicola Young – Yes
  • Milton Holland – No.  Rapid rail would be a better choice.
  • Iona Pannett – No, the projects are both environmentally and economically unsustainable. The amount you have given is incorrect. The cost will be much more (according to NZTA’s own estimates, the Mt Victoria tunnel is already priced at over $400m, both projects also have BCRs of less than 1). Fiscal discipline needs to be exercised in the transport area, something the government has failed to do over the Roads of National Significance programme.

DPF comment: Mihaka, Scannell, Gee and Young in favour. Jansen partiallu supportive. Dawson, Holland and Pannett opposed.

Do you support a change to the structure of local government in the Wellington Region, and if so to what?

  • Troy Mihaka – I am not in favour of the “Super City” style of government for Wellington. I would, however, consider the amalgamation of some of the smaller city/district units within the region, such as the Wairarapa Councils.
  • Mazz Scannell – Yes, collaboration on on service provision eg water mamagement
  • Tony Jansen – No. And thats no to a Super City too.
  • Brian Dawson – Not at this stage. The public have clearly spoken against it and I would want a democratic process before any changes were considered
  • Dave Gee – No
  • Nicola Young – Abolish the Regional Council, which I have described as ‘the Malvina Major home for retired politicians’. Establish an integrated transport authority.
  • Milton Holland – No.  I don’t support the Government’s Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) which would enable the Local Government Commission   to impose council-controlled organisations on local authorities, a kind of back door way of amalgamating local authority services. We already have some shared services in the Wellington area that have been  voluntarily entered into, such as through Wellington Water.
  • Iona Pannett – I do not support a super city but will support smaller scale amalgamations if they are community driven. Otherwise, working together across the region has proven benefits and with time, I expect to see more benefits eventuate in the transport, water, economic and waste areas particularly.

Do you support the current closing times for CBD bars of 4am. If not, what time would you prefer?

  • Troy Mihaka – For now, yes.
  • Mazz Scannell – No. Closing should be at the discretion of the proprietor
  • Tony Jansen – Yes. And cut back on the number of liquor shops in the city
  • Brian Dawson – I am interested in looking at options and definitely need to see some actual (rather than anecdotal) data before committing to a position. As an inner city resident I am comfortable with the current arrangements
  • Dave Gee – Yes
  • Nicola Young – Yes – the police must not dictate licensing policy
  • Milton Holland – 4am for the “entertainment precinct”, 3am in the rest of the inner city.
  • Iona Pannett – Yes, at 4am as it is the default closing time set by Parliament and it is a compromise between differing views on what is an appropriate time. Over time, I hope that we can develop a more sophisticated drinking culture so this question becomes irrelevant.

DPF comment: No candidate is saying there should be an earlier closing time. Scannell thinks that there should be no mandated closing time (yay). Jansen, Gree, Young and Pannett support 4 am. Holland wants 3 am for some outlets. Mihaka and Dawson are somewhat equivocal.

Do you think WCC should make it a condition for any business tendering for a contract with WCC to pay their staff at least $20 an hour?

  • Troy Mihaka – I think it depends on the business. I believe that all larger businesses should pay their staff a Living Wage, and that we should be working towards all businesses being able to provide that wage. But for smaller tender offers (for example, grass cutting, weed spraying) I would not want to eliminate local Wellington small businesses from being able to apply.
  • Mazz Scannell – No
  • Tony Jansen – Yes absolutely. I support the Living Wage.
  • Brian Dawson – Broadly yes, in terms of what they pay their staff for work done in relation to the WCC contract. I am a strong supporter of the Living Wage.
  • Dave Gee – No
  • Nicola Young – No. It’s not for WCC to dictate how businesses should operate.
  • Milton Holland – The living wage, currently $19.80, should apply.
  • Iona Pannett – Ideally I believe we should be paying all contractors the Living Wage (not currently at $20 an hour), but want further legal advice and debate at Council before making that commitment.

DPF comment: Jansen, Dawson, Holland and Pannett support the living wage for contractors. Mihaka supports it for larger contractors. Scannell, Gee and Young opposed

Should fluoridation of the Wellington city water supply continue?

  • Troy Mihaka – Yes
  • Mazz Scannell – Yes
  • Tony Jansen – Yes
  • Brian Dawson – Yes
  • Dave Gee – Sure
  • Nicola Young – Yes – but this is now a central government matter
  • Milton Holland – Not essential— fluoride is an inorganic industrial chemical of dubious merit, and brushing and flossing  one’s teeth and avoiding sugar is more important. Chlorination, however, is essential as it prevents cholera and other health issues (but is sometimes overdone and taints the water, especially in New Plymouth).
  • Iona Pannett – Yes

DPF comment: All candidates in favour of fluoridation except Holland.

If Council had an additional 10% revenue, or $40 million, what would be your priority spending areas?

  • Troy Mihaka – The construction of new homes in our city
  • Mazz Scannell – Infrastructure – sewer pipes, storm water and the repacement water tank for the hospital
  • Tony Jansen – Get the old Town Hall renovated and open.
  • Brian Dawson – Social housing and the Te Mahana Project focused on ending homelessness.
  • Dave Gee – I don’t have any pet projects I want to make you pay for. I’d cut rates.
  • Nicola Young – I’m committed to freezing the rates; next would be paying off city’s $500 million debt.
  • Milton Holland – Investing in light rail,  more expenditure  on water supply and drainage infrastructure (including faultline crossovers), support for helicopter services for civil defence purposes, but  otherwise reducing debt.
  • Iona Pannett – Affordable housing, it is unacceptable that part of a generation of New Zealanders are being priced out of the market and belive that the government has failed to show leadership in this area.

Vegemite or Marmite?

  • Troy Mihaka – Vegemite
  • Mazz Scannell – Marmite
  • Tony Jansen – Vegemite of course…Marmite. Yuk!
  • Brian Dawson – Marmite
  • Dave Gee – Marmite
  • Nicola Young – Vegemite
  • Milton Holland – Neither. Prefer hummus.
  • Iona Pannett – Vegemite

DPF comment: Four for vegemite, three for marmite and one for hummus

lambton

The table above is a simple scoring system of responses against my own personal views of low rates, no subsidy for the runway, four lanes on SH1, 4 am closing, no living wage requirement and pro-fluoridation.

Young, Gee and Scannell are the candidates I most agree with. Mihaka and Jansen a bit behind them. Then Pannett, Dawson and Holland.

The scores on policy are not the only factor in deciding how I would vote. Ability to work with others, communicate, work hard etc all factor in also.

When We Dead Awaken

The Bats production of When We Dead Awaken was thrilling and captivating.

You enter the Dome Theatre, and already on stage is The Artist, Arnold Rubek played by Ryan Cundy. He is sitting down obviously engrossed in his own thoughts. Then The Other One, Maia Rubek played by Iris Henderson appears and is trying to get Arnold’s attention. As this occurs on stage, the show transitions into starting.

The play was written by Henrik Ibsen, the second most performed playwright in the world. It was published in 1899 and is set in Norway.

You soon work out Arnold and Maia are married, but not entirely comfortable. She struggles to get his attention, and he finds her distracting. But then the two of them are distracted by a sighting of The Strange Lady, Irina Von Satow, played by Catriona Tipene. Shadowing her is The Woman in Black played by Evangelina Teller. You also have The Bear-Killer, Ulfheim played by Tom Kereama.

The plot unwinds with intrigue. Do Arnold and Irina know each other? What or who is The Woman in Black? Will Maia seek a distraction with Ulfheim – the near opposite of Arnold. One is sensitive artist and the other is somewhat akin to a Norwegian version of Colin Meads who kills bears.

Dominating the set is the mountain behind them. It plays a critical part in the play.

You learn that all four main characters are tortured souls. Can they find happiness again? Is happiness the goal? Or is it to live? And what or whom exactly is The Woman in Black? She is a nun in the original script, but in this production comes across more a supernatural shadow.

The show is only 60 minutes long and has a lot of energy. Cundy and Henderson are great in their roles, with their body language being as powerful as their dialogue. A strained relationship, which they finally confront. Tipene is also very good as the mysterious and tortured Strange Lady.

A raw and powerful show which had me engrossed.

Rating – **** (out of five)

Council handed over $8 million with no independent analysis

Stuff reports:

Lavery initially claimed that he had received a six-page report on the funding request written by “my staff”, before acknowledging that the report was actually written by Wellington Airport which had “different interests” to the council.

The council commissioned no work of its own to review the airport’s claims, but could have, Lavery said.

“We could have done that, if we’d felt uncomfortable with it. But we didn’t, so we didn’t. And that’s not uncommon.”

Here we get to the heart of the problem. The Council seems subservient to the airport company which it parts owns. The airport company proposes ratepayers hand over $8 million to Singapore Air to fly to Wellington, and our Council just says “yes sir” without any independent analysis.

One solution is that the Council should sell its share in the airport. Then it would treat the airport like any other company that comes to it wanting subsidies.

The key thing is that what is good for the airport is not necessarily good for Wellington and ratepayers. It may be, but the Council should independently assess this.

Brash launches campaign

Stuff reports:

A new “anti-separatism” campaign fronted by former National Party leader Don Brash has been launched to pressure politicians into opposing preferential treatment of Maori.

The campaign group is running a number of newspaper ads calling for an end to separatism and race-based laws – and will consider donating to any parties willing to “commit strongly to a colour-blind state”

The campaign, Hobson’s Pledge, is named after the first governor of New Zealand, Captain William Hobson, and his statement upon signing the Treaty of Waitangi that “we are now one people”.

The campaign says it wants to “arrest a decline into irreversible separatism” by ending race-based structures and co-governance models, but claims “we are not in any sense anti-Maori”.

Brash, anti-MMP campaigner Peter Shirtcliffe and Canterbury University law lecturer David Round are among the group’s members.

Brash said the catalyst for the campaign was a number of government policies which would “create a constitutional preference for those with a Maori ancestor”, such as proposed changes to the Resource Management Act to require iwi involvement.

“I’m not trying to win another election – I’m out of politics – but I want to avoid New Zealand drifting further into a racially-based society.”

The Treaty of Waitangi was not based on “some kind of ongoing partnership between two different races”, but the idea of New Zealand as one people.

And what will the campaign do?

Brash said the campaign had paid for newspaper ads, calling for “an end to separatism”, which would run over the next fortnight.

“If funds permit”, it would also make donations to any political parties that were willing to “commit strongly to a colour-blind state”.

This could be interesting. The Brash campaign could end up raising money for Winston!

Productivity Commission recommends vouchers for tertiary education

Stuff reports:

Students should return to paying interest on their loans in an attempt to make tertiary education more accessible for all, a report to the Government suggests.

The Productivity Commission, an independent Crown entity, is recommending interest be charged on new student loans, as part of a proposed overhaul of the tertiary education sector.

However, the Government, Labour and the Greens have all said they are not keen to act on the recommendation.

The commission is also suggesting the Government increase the income threshold for repayments, and is seeking feedback on an idea to give all New Zealanders a “budget” to spend on tertiary study once they turn 16.

Scrapping University Entrance and allowing tertiary institutions to set their own entry criteria has also been put on the table. …

The commission was also looking for feedback on the concept of a student education account. Money would be given to all 16-year-olds, to be spent only on approved education courses.

Students would then be driving demand, and providers would have to be responsive to their needs, Sherwin said.

“It’s really out there as a conceptual flyer to say if you really wanted to shift the system, how would you do it? 

“If you really wanted to make a difference you need to shift the funding mechanism, this is the sort of thing that might do the trick.”

This is a good idea in theory but I’m wary that it can work in practice.

Even under the current scheme you’ve seen providers sign up prospective students in hamburger joints to try and get them to enrol in a course so the institution gets the funding. I think under vouchers you’d get a huge number of low quality providers and courses. The only way around this would be to say that the voucher can only be used for say up to 80% of course costs so students are having to use their own money also (and hence be far more selective). But then you get some not being able to afford to study, so overall I can’t see this happening.

Minto on contractors

Stuff reports:

Minto said he wanted to research the feasibility of axing all contractors and bringing their staff into council employment.

He said he suspected contractors were defrauding the council of money, but didn’t have any evidence.

Need more be said.

Hehir on crisises

Liam Hehir writes:

In 1991, the Soviet Union unravelled.

Its empire had been lost, its constituent regions declared independence and its economy crumbled. After decades of failure, the will to preserve the Soviet state was exhausted.

Nineteenth-century America was bitterly divided by slavery. This eventually led that country to civil war in which more than one million people were killed. At times, the very existence of the country hung in the balance.

The 3rd-century Roman Empire found itself beleaguered on all fronts. With the assassination of the emperor in 235, the Romans were plunged into a half century of repeated barbarian invasions, rebellious provinces, civil wars, plague outbreaks and the economic turmoil caused by currency debasement, known today as “quantitative easing”.

In each case, the countries involved were facing critical challenges to their existing order. In other words, they each found themselves confronted with a “crisis”.

Some came through better than others. America survived her civil war and is better for it. Rome got lucky with some good emperors and managed to buy another century before its final collapse in the West. The Soviets’ crisis was too much for their rotten states to withstand.

Many of our opinion-makers seem to be of the view that New Zealand is in the grip of a great crisis. Looking back through the news this year, we have seen the proclamation of a manufacturing crisis, an agriculture crisis, a regional economy crisis, a trust in politicians crisis, a healthcare budget crisis, a mental health crisis, an income inequality crisis, a wealth inequality crisis, an obesity crisis, a teacher recruitment crisis, a log-supply crisis, a water crisis and a casual racism crisis.

Labour refer to every issue as a crisis because they have a belief if they call everything a crisis the public will believe them and that if something is a crisis, then the only solution is a change of Government.

The media play along as crisis headlines make good clickbait.

This is to say nothing of the Auckland housing crisis, which absorbs at least three-quarters of public debate these days. This crisis is so bad the opposition wants to declare a “state of emergency” over the matter. Previous states of emergency have been declared over the destruction of our second city in 2011 and the worst strike in our history in 1951

Labour getting over excited.

With the country in the grip of so many crises, you could probably expect us to be at the brink of secession, civil war, economic collapse or irresolvable constitutional impasse.

Instead, our politics is stable. According to the Legatum Institute, New Zealand is the second best governed country in the world. Even our populist party is led by somebody who has been in politics since the 1975 and is a former deputy prime minster, foreign minister and treasurer.

Things are pretty good on the economic front too. Recently released GDP figures show the economy is growing at a rate that most Western countries would kill for – partly due to a strong performance from the manufacturing sector. Our unemployment rate is at the lower end of the OECD spectrum and wages are growing in real terms.

It is certainly true that the country faces problems. Some of these are concerning and a few warrant some anxiety, but “problem” is not a synonym for “crisis”. We will always have problems, but it has been a long time since we were confronted with anything like a crisis.

Exactly.

Quigley appointed Reserve Bank Chair

Stuff reports:

University of Waikato vice-chancellor Professor Neil Quigley has been elected as chairman of the Reserve Bank, as Dr Rod Carr reveals he is quitting the board.

In a statement the Reserve Bank said Carr, the vice-chancellor at the University of Canterbury, had advised the board “some months ago” that he would not be seeking a further term on the board when the current term ends in July 2017.

“In light of that decision he had decided to step down as chair,” the Reserve Bank said. 

Quigley became chairman on Thursday, the Reserve Bank said.

Finance Minister Bill English said Quigley “has had a distinguished academic and consulting career”.

Previously a professor at Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Western Ontario, Quigley is also a director of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority. He was first appointed to the board of the Reserve Bank in 2010.

Professor Quigley was my lecturer in monetary economics. He was a great lecturer and made a lot of sense then. Am pleased to see him as Reserve Bank Chair.

Carr was previously deputy governor of the Reserve Bank, and served as acting governor for a time in 2002, when Don Brash quit the role to join the National Party as an MP.

He was later replaced by Alan Bollard.

One leading market participant speculated earlier this year that if Carr stood down from the Reserve Bank board, it could be a sign that he wanted to be considered as a contender to replace Graeme Wheeler as governor in 2017.

He would be a strong contender.

Gilbert on ascribing racism

Jarrod Gilbert writes:

The disproportionate amount of Maori in our criminal justice system is among the most serious problems facing New Zealand. In my April column I unpacked Maori imprisonment rates and if you read that and weren’t concerned by it then I dare say your moral compass requires recalibration.

In recent times, however, a number of journalists and commentators have placed heavy emphasis on racism being the root cause of the problem, but on this point I think we need to be much more cautious than most have.

A report by the Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCA) released two weeks ago was held up as evidence for racism.

The report looked at pre-charge warnings used by police.

Pre-charge warnings are employed when a person has been arrested for a minor offence that requires police intervention but a “public interest” test indicates prosecution is not warranted. It is intended to give some account for the offence by recording the warning as part of a criminal history but it keeps people away from the justice system.

Apart from saving taxpayers a truckload of money, the thinking behind such warnings is that for many people the shock of contact with the police and a formal caution will act as a wake-up that modifies future behaviour.

The IPCA report found that Maori are significantly less likely to get pre charge warnings than non-Maori.

Which has led people to conclude it is racism.

The headlines from that point wrote themselves. It was concluded, quite naturally perhaps, that racism was at play.

But the headline figures didn’t tell the whole story. Far from it, in fact. The IPCA drew on an audit of those given pre charge warnings and that found 51 per cent of non-Maori had no previous convictions but only 26 per cent of Maori enjoyed a clean record. Among a number of disqualifying factors for pre-charge warnings, a person’s form is certainly considered. This was near universally ignored in reporting and commentary around the report, even though the IPCA stated: “The Authority has not come across any evidence that clearly demonstrates differential treatment on the basis of ethnicity.”

I have found not a single reference to that in the media.

The media report has been simplistic.

Just comparing between two ethnic groups is misleading. You need to control for other factors. This is basic science. You need to compare between people with the same criminal records (no previous offending), same type of charges faced, same age etc etc. What you want is to make sure every variable except ethnicity is accounted for, and then you can determine if ethnicity is the issue.

I’ve done a lot of work with criminals and inside prisons, and while Maori are overrepresented, the commonality that is most obvious between Maori and non-Maori offenders is deprivation and disadvantage – the foibles of those terrible pockets of lower socio-economic communities.

And here we unquestionably stand on foundations altogether more solid.

The Ministry of Health found that one in four prisoners reports a mental illness or psychological condition that makes everyday activities or socialising difficult, and one in five has difficulty learning, which is unsurprising given the Department of Corrections has found that 71 per cent of prisoners have difficulty reading and writing.

This data, of course, point to the drivers of crime.

Maori are over represented in communities in which such problems have fertile ground. The unemployment rate for Maori is double that of non-Maori, Maori have the highest rates of binge drinking and smoking and their morbidity data are across the board depressing. Maori die younger and suicide more often. Maori dominate gang numbers and they are also more likely to be the victims of crime. Tackling criminal justice bias, whatever that might be, will not solve these problems.

Exactly. One has to target the drivers of criminal offending.

Comparing the leaders

Thinking more about how company CEOs and directors rated the various opposition leaders. Their ratings were:

  1. James Shaw 3.21
  2. Annette King 3.10
  3. Winston Peters 2.90
  4. Metiria Turei 2.37
  5. Andrew Little 2.22

So to sum up, Metiria Turei is a former anarchist, clown and candidate for the McGillicuddy Serious Party. She is a larping cosplayer and lives in a castle.

However a poll of company CEOs and directors rated her as more impressive than Andrew Little!

Just think about that, if you are a Labour MP.

Incidentally I agree with the CEOs.

Note I have nothing against larping or cosplay, or clowns or castles.

Hypocrisy in Mt Roskill

The Herald reports:

Labour has claimed the first dividend from its agreement with the Green Party after the Green Party decided not to contest any Mt Roskill byelection.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said today the Greens would not stand in a byelection in Mt Roskill should current MP Phil Goff win the Auckland mayoralty.

“The Mt Roskill by-election will be closely contested, and we don’t want to play any role in National winning the seat.”

However, she said it did not have a position on whether it would endorse Labour’s candidate Michael Wood or actively encourage Green supporters to vote for him.

It is the first ‘deal’ in an electorate under the agreement between Labour and the Greens to campaign together more closely and work to increase the centre-left vote.

Such huge hypocrisy.

Labour has spent years decrying so called dirty deals in Epsom and Ohariu where National made it known it was happy to get the party vote only. The loudest critic of these was Labour’s Epsom candidate Michael Wood.

But now he is standing for Labour in Mt Roskill and they have done a mega dirty deal (their term) and have arranged for the Greens to not even stand a candidate.

I don’t have a problem with such a decision per se. The problem I have is their blatant hypocrisy in loudly condemning such deals for years and then doing it themselves.

Academic wants to rename Massey University

Stuff reports:

A racially-charged debate is igniting over research that has revealed “white supremacist” comments made by the prime minister Massey University is named after.

Now, almost a century on, a top academic is calling for the university to consider a name change.

The controversial call comes from Massey lecturer and recent PhD scholar Steve Elers, who was startled to uncover blatantly racist comments made by William Ferguson Massey.

A farmer and entrepreneur, Massey was prime minister of New Zealand between 1912 and his death in 1925. The then Massey Agricultural College was founded in 1926 and named after him.

Elers of Ngati Kauwhata, said he was surprised to discover Massey’s beliefs, during his research into Maori representation in newspapers.

He presented the findings at a talk on the Manawatu campus on Wednesday, challenging the institution to consider the symbolism of using Massey’s name.

Some of Massey’s quotes presented included: “New Zealanders are probably the purest Anglo-Saxon population in the British Empire. Nature intended New Zealand to be a white man’s country, and it must be kept as such”; and, “I am not a lover or admirer of the Chinese race. I should be one of the very first to insist on very drastic legislation to prevent them coming here in any numbers, and I am glad such is not the case.”

During Massey’s lifetime many people freely expressed views considered unacceptable today, Elers said. However, any justification that his comments were made “a long time ago” and in another context was “irrelevant”.

Context is everything. Judging people off their beliefs 100 years ago will find 99.9% of the population unworthy. It’s ridiculous.

In 100 years no doubt someone like Elers will demand that a university named after Barack Obama be renamed because Obama started his presidency opposed to same sex marriage.

Victoria University head of history, associate professor Jim McAloon, said there should be a “fairly high threshold” for an institutional name change, but the good and bad should be remembered together.

“If we only memorialise the perfect we’re not going to have anyone to memorialise.

Exactly.

Rather, let us debate the lives and legacies of those who are memorialised and ensure that memorials represent the breadth of our history.”

Much more sensible.

Queen Victoria no doubt had some terrible views in the 1800s by today’s standards. We must rename VUW also! And I am sure Lord Auckland and the Duke of Wellington said some awful things – so let’s rename these cities too.

Our new (sort of) head of state

Stuff reports:

Dame Patsy Reddy has been officially sworn in as New Zealand’s 21st governor-general at a ceremony in Wellington.

Hundreds of people, including film-makers Sir Peter Jackson and Reddy’s former neighbour James Cameron, were at Parliament’s grounds on Wednesday morning.

Reddy, who succeeds Sir Jerry Mateparae, accepted the Rakau Tapu ceremonial challenge and was welcomed to the ceremony.

She and husband Sir David Gascoigne then met with mana whenua for hongi, several short haka and met Prime Minister John Key.

Pomp and ceremony continued as she moved to the saluting base, receiving a general salute from the Royal Guard of Honour and was then sworn in.

The formalities continued with Chief Justice Dame Sian Elias administering the affirmation of allegiance and affirmation of office.

Later, Reddy, 62, inspected the Royal Guard in front of Parliament.

Key then addressed the ceremony. He said governors-general in recent years had better reflected New Zealand’s diversity.

The first New Zealand-born governor-general was not sworn in until in 1967. 

Reddy said she was happy to have been approached about the job. “I want to encourage greater diversity in our leadership,” she said.

“When the prime minister first asked me if I would consider being New Zealand’s 21st governor-general, he pointed out that the role would provide me with a unique opportunity to make a worthwhile and lasting contribution to New Zealand and the lives of New Zealanders.

“That was a challenge that I could not easily ignore.”

The national anthem was played, while the air force band also played Pokarekare Ana, understood to be Reddy’s choice, and the New Zealand Opera Chorus sang Hine e Hine. 

In her new role, Reddy is commander-in-chief of New Zealand’s armed forces and the Queen’s representative in the Realm of New Zealand, which includes Niue, Tokelau, the Cook Islands and the Ross Dependency in Antarctica. 

Reddy thanked her husband, whom she called her “confidant and adviser”.

The new governor-general also thanked other family members, friends, and previous governors.

She made special mention of immediate predecessor Mateparae, and Dames Cath Tizard and Silvia Cartwright, New Zealand’s first and second female governors-general.

She approached her role with “some trepidation, but also enthusiasm”, she said, after spending about six months preparing for it.

Cameron told NZME that Reddy was an “astonishingly talented and competent woman”.

“We got to be quite chummy … She has got a big vision of what she can do as governor-general.

“She has done a good job with everything she has ever done, and she has done an awful lot of things.”

Dame Patsy is out 21st Governor-General, or our 36th if you include the Governors also. She becomes our effective head of state, representing the Queen.

Small on Little rejecting the centre

Vernon Small writes:

Even if things should fall apart, it seems the centre cannot hold Labour leader Andrew Little’s interest.

In a strangely intense rejection of Helen Clark’s suggestion that parties on the left must “command the centre ground” to win elections, Little dismissed the idea as “meaningless” and “a pretty hollow view”.

Strange, because it is truism. Winning power requires 50 per cent plus one of the voters – and Mr 50 and Mrs 51 are by definition in the centre.

No NCEA achieved grade for Little.

He may even have been worried his own insiders would take “centrism” as an abandonment of his mandate.

As he explains it, he is constructing a “coalition of constituencies” ahead of next year’s election. It is one that transcends simplistic Left and Right, but is focused on some salient issues, such as health, housing, inequality and the needs of small business.

But whatever the explanation, it seems odd that Little would allow himself to be seen as offside, or peeved, with Clark’s view.

Publicly slapping down her advice was stupid. What he should have said is “Yes I agree which is why we are targeting the aspiring home owners who have been locked out of the housing market and families who have been locked out of the education system etc etc”

Beyond the altruistic reasons for seeking a top slot for a Kiwi on the world stage, it is unlikely Key will be blind to the domestic advantages for him.

Clark was, after all, popular with many a centrist and women voter in her time and still commands respect. Showing magnanimity towards her can hardly harm his prospects of a fourth term – and might well improve it.

Which underscores just how odd it was that Little would distance himself from her comments – especially when the UN secretary-general vote is coming to a head.

Was basically just bizarre.

Republicans now anti trade

Politico reports:

In a stunning reversal, a large majority of Republicans are repudiating their party’s traditional support for free trade, and falling sharply in line with nominee Donald Trump’s insistence that trade costs Americans more jobs than it creates.

Meanwhile, Democrats, whose representatives in Congress have traditionally been far more skeptical of trade deals — and largely voted against giving President Barack Obama the “fast-track” authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year — are now far more apt than Republicans to see the benefit of trade, according to an exclusive poll conducted for POLITICO and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Forty-seven percent of Republicans surveyed said that trade deals have hurt their communities over the last 10 years, compared to only 24 percent of Democratic voters. Only 18 percent of Republicans surveyed said that trade deals helped, while 33 percent of Democrats believe free trade helps.

Sadly I’d say this kills off TPP.

Fast track authority only got through with massive Republican support. Trump has led the GOP to abandon a belief in trade being good, and this climate will mean even in the lame duck period, there will not be votes for TPP.

Time for the rest of the world to give up on the US as a lost cause, and let’s focus on expanding TPP to China and even India.

Trade has “gone from the gold standard to being something that’s bad,” Stuart Stevens, Mitt Romney’s former chief strategist, told POLITICO. “I think it’s a disaster across the board for the Republican Party, because you’re betting against all these trends [in globalization] that are not going to stop.”

Yep.

Lecturers blame Government for fewer students enrolling in their papers

The ODT reports:

University of Otago staff and students protested against cuts to the  humanities division during a visit by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English yesterday.

Mr English was met by about 70 people, many holding signs with slogans calling for the Government to stop staff cuts,  when he visited the campus to give a talk to commerce students.

In August, humanities pro-vice-chancellor Prof Tony Ballantyne announced plans to cut jobs in  anthropology and archaeology, English and linguistics, history, languages and cultures, and music.

The cuts were necessary because of a decline in the division’s roll since 2010, Prof Ballantyne said.

So fewer students are deciding to do a humanities degree, which of course means fewer staff are needed. This is not surprising, and is how it works. But somehow the precious few at Otago think it is the Government’s fault and that Bill English somehow is to blame.

NZ on Air going platform agnostic

Radio NZ reports:

NZ On Air is shaking up the way it spends public money on programmes. Mediawatchlooks at why the government’s broadcasting funding agency is making the change, and the potential pitfalls in the proposal.

Last weekend, Fairfax Media published a major investigation into racism in the justice system. At the heart of it was a 20 minute video for the stuff.co.nz website by journalists Paula Penfold and Eugene Bingham and videographer Toby Longbottom.

Just last year, all three were producing similar work for TV3’s prime time current affairs show 3D. NZ On Air funding supported the show’s journalism, but TV3 canned the programme because it didn’t attract enough viewers and advertising.

Traditional TV fare shifting online like this is one of the reasons NZ On Air is adopting a “platform agnostic” attitude and – as announced today – planning a move to a single public media fund.

Research on viewing habits commissioned by NZ On Air has shown New Zealanders – especially the young – are increasing going online for their screen time, using on-demand services like Netflix, Lightbox, Neon and YouTube.  

In the past, NZ On Air sought to ensure the public got bang for its bucks by ring-fencing most money for programmes screened by mass-audience free-to-air TV broadcasters such as TV3, TVNZ and Prime.

The proposed new NZ Media Fund will instead create four new streams – factual, scripted, music and platforms – which will mean television loses its place as the centre of gravity.

NZ On Air will still send big budgets to free-to-air broadcasters for TV shows, but online and on-demand services will also be able to bid for money to make a wider range of content.

In principle this is a good idea. If we are to have taxpayer funded content, then it shouldn’t be focused on broadcast media only. So this is sensible.

However as more diverse platforms emerge, it is important to have transparency over how many people view something funded by the taxpayer. Ratings are not the only criteria (as the point of funding is to help produce NZ content that may not be commercially viable) but it is important to understand how many people actually viewed something.

I’d like to see NZ on Air report annually (or more often) on every show funded by them, and including:

  1. Total contribution from NZ on Air
  2. Number of viewers (broadcast, streaming, online, download etc)
  3. Cost per viewer

The issue is not Lavery but those who approved the corporate welfare fund

The Dom Post editorial:

It is extraordinary that Wellington City Council’s chief executive could give large sums to an airline and leave almost no record about it. Kevin Lavery’s decision might mean as much as $8m for Singapore Airlines over ten years. The documentation of the deal is slender, amounting to perhaps two pages. This seems a funny way to do business with public money.

Deputy mayor Justin Lester says the spending was within Lavery’s authority and he would be “highly surprised” if there was nothing else in writing. Presumably the politician is now very surprised, as he should be, although he also offers the thought that Lavery “doesn’t send emails.”

Nobody is accusing Lavery of doing anything dishonest, but his handling of this matter has been far too casual. Anyone with this much discretionary power to spend ratepayers’ money owes them a corresponding accountability. That means carrying out and recording a proper analysis and putting the deal and discussions about it in writing.

The issue is not Lavery, but accountability.

It is the Council that set up a secret slush fund for corporate welfare. It is the Council that delegates spending approval to the CE. Councillors should have a policy that any payments must include a detailed business case and analysis.

It is a failure of Council leadership here.

It’s a sign of Lavery’s extraordinary power at the council that an elected politician such as Lester finds no particular problem here.

So elect a Mayor dedicated to making changes.

The issue is not the CE, but the fact the Council has delegated spending authority with no requirements for transparency and analysis.

Wellington Regional Council candidates

In the Wellington constituency there are 11 candidates seeking five positions.

Some are easy to eliminate. Some candidates have said they wish to waste up to $1 billion on a light rail system that will provide benefits of just $50 million. Yes $950 million down the drain. The Council’s own study has said the BCR is a minuscule 0.05 yet they still support it. This rules them out on rational grounds.

So Paul Bruce, Sue Kedgley, Daran Ponter, Roger Blakeley, John Klaphake and Russell Tregonning are all big nos. It is a pity in the case of Roger Blakely who has a good CV as a department CEO and Porirua Council CEO but I can’t support anyone who ignores evidence as these six are.

So that leaves five candidates you should rank as your top five. They are:

  1. Ian McKinnon
  2. Chris Laidlaw
  3. Keith Flinders
  4. Norbert Hausberg
  5. Sam Somers

McKinnon is my top pick. An excellent former Deputy Mayor.

Laidlaw has not been a favourite of mine but he seems to be doing a good job as Chair and is rational. I’d rank him No 2.

Flinders and Hausberg seem okay so 3 and 4.

Somers does not seem to have any particular background with public policy or governance. But at least he isn’t campaigning to waste $950 million.

Lower Hutt has eight candidates for three spots.

  • Kath Allen
  • Leonie Dobbs
  • Sandra Greig
  • Ken Laban
  • Prue Lamarson
  • David Ogden
  • John Terris
  • Derek Wilshere

I rate Ken Laban highly and would have him in a top spot. David Ogden and Prue Lamarson as incumbents seem good also.

Porirua – Tawa has four candidates for two positions. They are:

  • Jenny Brash
  • Barbara Donaldson
  • Heidi Mills
  • Joern Scherzer

Brash and Donaldson are incumbents and seem solid. Scherzer seems to have a useful transport background.

Kapiti has three seeking one seat. They are:

  • Peter Bollmann
  • Penny Gaylor
  • Nigel Wilson

They all seem quite good. Wilson is the incumbent and seems to have been good.