Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category


June 17th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government has vetoed a Labour Party bill which would have extended paid parental leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks.

Finance Minister Bill English confirmed this afternoon that he had exercised the financial veto – the first time he has used it to sink an entire piece of legislation.

Labour MP Sue Moroney’s bill had broad support in Parliament and was expected to pass into law this month.

But Mr English said it was unaffordable.

“Treasury estimates the cost of this legislation amounts to $278 million over the next four years, a significant extra – unbudgeted – cost,” he said.

“That’s on top of the $251 million a year (net of tax) taxpayers are expected to spend by 2020 under the existing paid parental leave framework.” …

United Future leader Peter Dunne, who wants an eventual increase in paid leave to 52 weeks, said there was a “delicious irony” in the Government’s veto.

“Yesterday Government was saying that putting children at the centre of policy was priority. Today they ban a bill on paid parental leave.”

Why stop at 52 weeks? Why not 156 weeks?

Dunne’s proposal would cost $391 million a year more. That’s around 30% of the total budget every year for new spending.

Little served

June 17th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has now been served with defamation proceedings by National Party donors and hoteliers Earl and Lani Hagaman.

The Hagamans confirmed in a statement they had now commenced defamation proceedings against Mr Little in the High Court and they had been served on Mr Little.

The defamation suit relates to comments Mr Little made about a management contract Mr Hagaman’s company, Scenic Hotel, was awarded to manage the Matavai Resort on Niue. That was awarded a few weeks after Mr Hagaman donated $101,000 to the National Party during the 2014 campaign.

The Hagamans gave Mr Little a deadline to retract his comments and apologise last month, but Mr Little refused.

“As we said earlier, the reasons we’re taking defamation action have been widely reported in the media and I won’t be repeating his allegations that Earl and I find hurtful, highly offensive and totally false.

We will now clear our names in court”, Lani Hagaman said.

I presume it will go to trial, if not settled, around the middle of next year.

Herald argues for oppressive values

June 16th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

One of those basic Western, liberal values is a tolerance of diverse views and open debate. Muslims who come here may arrive with distinctly non-Western values on the status of women and decency in dress and relationships. They justify their restrictive codes of dress and conduct on a sense of respect and self-respect that they find deficient in Western liberal values. Westerners find that sort of respect oppressive but it is good to have our attitudes challenged. To bar people because they do not share them would be the antithesis of basic Western, liberal values.

Not at all. Does the Herald editorial writer think for example we should welcome in members of the KKK because it is good to have our values challenged? How about neo-nazis from Europe? Would having more neo-nazis in NZ be good for our NZ as they will challenge our values? By the same basis, I don’t want people immigrating here who think gays should be stoned to death, that execution is the appropriate punishment for apostasy or that women are second class citizens.

A difference between gossip and a leak

June 16th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The TVNZ journalist Paula Bennett’s press secretary leaked to was Rebecca Wright – a journalist with whom the Social Housing Minister has crossed swords in the past, including taking an unsuccessful complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

The minister’s press secretary told Ms Wright about a police investigation into the handling of a case by Te Puea Marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis, after Mr Dennis informed the minister about the matter in a private meeting last week.

The police investigation is not a criminal investigation into Mr Dennis personally, who could not be immediately reached for comment today.

Opposition MPs have claimed that the press secretary, Lucy Bennett, must have passed on the information with the minister’s permission. Paula Bennett has denied this, saying the first she knew about the leak was when a Radio NZ reporter asked her about it on Tuesday.

She has described the leak as inappropriate and has apologised to Mr Dennis, who is on leave from his role as police inspector and iwi liaison officer while the investigation is underway.

RNZ was the first to ask the minister about the leak. It is not known how RNZ found out about it.

Ms Wright has not responded to requests for comment. Lucy Bennett, who is not related to the minister, declined to comment or confirm Ms Wright was the journalist she spoke to.

My understanding is that what happened was gossip, not a deliberate leak. Press secretaries and reporters exchange gossip all the time. In this particular case, many in the media were already aware of the investigation into Mr Dennis, and an assumption was made Rebecca Wright already knew.

It was an error of judgement on Lucy Bennett’s part, but not any sort of deliberate act.

For those convinced it was some sort of deliberate strategy signed off by the Minister, well if so the last person they would choose to deliberately leak to is Rebecca Wright! As in even if every other journalist in NZ had Ebola, Paula would still not choose to deal with Rebecca Wright, let alone leak to her.

If TVNZ and Radio NZ had revealed immediately that the journalist talked to was Rebecca, then I doubt any one else in the media would have taken seriously the accusation that this was a deliberate leak. The ill will between the Minister and Rebecca is well known. You wonder if it was a deliberate decision not to reveal this, so the story would be more potent.

Bishop on PPTA and charter schools

June 16th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Chris Bishop wrote on Facebook:

This just makes me want to weep.

I encourage people to read the whole article along with the correspondence (which has put up online too), but here’s a summary of the story:

Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa is a partnership school based in Whangarei which opened in 2014. It’s a new school but since opening it’s been doing well – its roll increased from 50 to 72 in 2015, it graduated five year 13 students all with UE; it placed 4th at the regional kapahaka competition, to name a few. All of its students in 2015 were “priority learners” (Maori, Pasifika, kids with special needs or from low socio-economic backgrounds). The exact kids we really want to be helping.

It’s achieving great NCEA results for its students – 100% NCEA Level 3 and 2 achievement rates in 2015; and 84.2% at Level 1 – well above the average for Maori.

Earlier this year a local high school, Kamo High School, offered to let the kura use their chemistry fume cupboard to mix chemicals for students’ science experiments. Sounds sensible right? Who could possibly be opposed to that? As the Principal of Kamo said, she “saw this as an opportunity to support a highly successful emerging school in our area, and to improve the chemistry results for Maori students.”

Well, the PPTA it seems, the union for secondary teachers. This was a “major issue”. The executive turned up unannounced at the school for a “vital” meeting with the staff. Soon a long menacing letter arrived, threatening all sort of legal repercussions – all over the simple offer to let a nearby school use some science resources.

So now the offer’s been withdrawn. What a shame for the students of the kura. Once again, the PPTA is putting its ideological (and frankly wrong) views about partnership schools ahead of kids in our education system – and kids whom the system has largely failed so far (that’s why partnership schools exist).

This is not an isolated incident. In 2015 a teacher studying to become qualified was asked to leave one of his placements because he was employed at the kura. The PPTA has instructed all its members to “refrain from all professional, sporting and cultural contact with charter schools” – so no playing rugby against them, participating in arts festivals, no debating competitions – nothing.

I find all of this really sad. Partnership schools are a genuine, well-intentioned attempt to try and tackle the long tail of under-achievement in our education system. Every kid deserves a good education. For some, the existing system doesn’t work well. Partnership schools may help them; and the evidence so far is that they are. Nobody is forced to send their children there. No teacher is forced to work there. They’re a choice. I haven’t been to the kura (yet), but I’ve visited South Auckland Middle School in Auckland, and looked at their results. Sadly, many opponents of partnership schools have not bothered to do the same.

So this school agreed to allow students at another school their chemistry fume cupboard and because of that they had almost the entire PPTA Executive descend on their school to threaten them.

UPDATE: I’m informed that it was not the entire PPTA Executive, but just two people – the President and a staffer. Also the visit was known in advance.

What are NZ values?

June 15th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Should refugees be expected to officially commit to New Zealand values when they get here?

Some political leaders say yes, they should.

Refugees should sign up to a ‘New Zealand values statement’, proposes ACT leader David Seymour as he believes it would help ensure those arriving share our values. 

Just look at Australia, Seymour points out – they have a charter to accompany their visa approvals.

What the Australian charter says:

“Australian society values respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual, freedom of religion, commitment to the rule of law, Parliamentary democracy, equality of men and women and a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play and compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good.

“Australian society values equality of opportunity for individuals, regardless of their race, religion or ethnic background the English language, as the national language, is an important unifying element of Australian society.”

Seymour admitted Australia have a different set of migration circumstances, but “on balance Australia is an incredibly tolerant and liberal place, that many many people from around the world want to go to”.

Seymour said it wouldn’t be difficult to pull together a simple charter, stating for example: “We believe regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or religion, you have the same legal rights as everybody else.”

I quite like the Australian one, but Seymour’s one is also good.

What the Netherlands do is also good. They actually require all prospective immigrants watch a video about life in the Netherlands, and in it they stress things like freedom of speech, that same sex couples are affectionate in public and that if this upsets you, you should consider not moving here, as you’ll be unhappy.

1st increase in refugee quota for 30 years, so of course attacked by the left!

June 14th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The number of refugees New Zealand will accept is to increase from 750 to 1000 each year, a decision widely panned by human rights advocates. 

Prime Minister John Key confirmed Cabinet had discussed the issue and reached a decision on Monday.

The figure is short of the 1500 refugees campaigners and Immigration NZ have said New Zealand can handle, but Key said services had to be bolstered to cope with an increase first. 

The annual costs to take on additional refugees would rise by $25 million to $100 million per year.

The Government was also working on a new pilot that would see community groups sponsor certain refugees, that filled criteria that was yet to be decided on. 

New Zealand’s refugee intake quota has remained at 750 per year, for the past 30 years.

New Zealand Amnesty International chief executive Grant Bayldon said the announcement was “shameful”. 

“This is a shameful and inhumane response and a stain on our country’s reputation as a good global citizen.

I recall the good old days when Amnesty was not seen as partisan. A non=partisan Amnesty would say we are pleased the Government is the first one in 30 years to increase the quota but we are disappointed they have not increased it further. But instead they call the first increase in 30 years “shameful”.

Key said Monday’s announcement was “an appropriate response”.

“Before we take any more, we need to be sure that people have the appropriate support and services they need to resettle in New Zealand, like housing, education and translation services. 

“Therefore, we’ve opted to increase the quota to 1000 from 2018, after the Syrian emergency response refugees have been resettled,” he said.

“When the new quota of 1000 comes into effect, the annual cost will rise by $25 million a year, to $100 million a year.

“It’s important to note, the annual refugee quota is just one part of New Zealand’s total refugee and humanitarian programme. 

“There are also 300 places available each year for family reunification, and an additional 125 to 175 asylum seekers have their claims approved each year.”

So once implemented we probably will be taking in around 1,500 refugees a year.

ACT leader David Seymour welcomed the increase but said the Government could do more to monitor the “tolerance” of refugees.

“This level of increase is very close to where we would be if we had followed ACT’s policy of increasing the quota in line with our growing population.

“However, this is also a good opportunity to up our commitment to values of peace and tolerance. Why wouldn’t we state these values clearly to the people seeking join our country?”

He proposed making all immigrants sign a “New Zealand Values Statement”, similar to those signed in Australia and Belgium.

“Specifically, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and respect for women and those of different sexualities should be understood and respected by all new New Zealanders.”

I agree with David Seymour. I think this should be a priority.

The reoffending rate

June 14th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Judith Collins released:

The number of people going on to re-offend after completing a sentence has decreased by 25 per cent from 2011, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said today.

“This is excellent progress, and I’m very proud of the hard work the Department of Corrections has done to get to this point. Reducing re-offending is hugely important because less crime means fewer victims and safer communities.”

Corrections aims to reduce re-offending by 25 per cent by 2017.  As of December 2015, the rate of re-offending has fallen by 6.8 per cent since 2011. 

“Unfortunately the re-offending rate is affected by a small group of individuals who are offending more often and more seriously.”

Up until reading this release I had not reflected on the difference between the re-offending rates for offences and people.

It’s a great thing 25% fewer people are re-offending.

But the re-offending rate has only fallen 7% as some offenders are re-offending more often.

It is possible they are a hard core who will not respond to rehabilitation, and there will come a point where you just have to keep them in jail for longer and longer to protect the community.

But those who do respond and stop re-offending should be given considerable support to do so.

Capital Gains Tax and housing

June 14th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I support a comprehensive capital gains tax (so long as other taxes are reduced to compensate) as the best tax system is broad based, low rate and few exemptions.

But I have always been suspicious of the claims that a CGT will have a big impact on house prices. Certainly Australia has a full CGT and they have similiar price inflation.

This exchange from Q+A was interesting:

Jonno Ingerson told Q+A that the Government’s bright line test doesn’t seem to be deterring speculators.

CORIN   Well, that’s interesting too, because that suggests, say, that the bright line test that the Government brought in, which was to say, ‘You sell within two years, that’s a clear line there. You have to pay your tax on your capital gain,’ that’s not deterring people.

 JONNO No, and if you look at the people that that was targeted at, which would be the speculators, if you like, that are driving the market, turning it over quickly, a lot of them were doing that as a business anyway.

 CORIN   And paying tax, presumably.

 JONNO And paying tax. Quite happy for the IRD, sure, yeah, ‘I bought and sold, and I’m paying you my big block of tax.’ The people it was aimed at were those that were skirting around the system. Yeah, it’s knocked a tiny number of those out, but—

 CORIN   Yeah, but that suggests they’re making such a decent profit that they’re quite happy to hand over it.

 JONNO Quite happy. Make 100,000, there’s your 50,000, 30,000, whatever it is and keep going.

If you make $100,000 off a house purchase and sale, then its a great investment whether or not your profit is $100,000 (untaxed) or $67,000) taxed.  A CGT will have some impact around the margins, but when demand is so much greater than supply, the impact is small.

Until the land supply issue is fixed, house prices will continue to increase.

Quote of the week

June 14th, 2016 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“As well as being tailored to the circumstances of the recipient, charity allows the donor to make a moral choice. There is virtue in deciding to give away your money, but none in having the same amount taken from you through the tax system.” 

– Daniel Hannan

The quote of the week is brought to you by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. To support the Union’s campaign for lower taxes and less government waste, click here.

Guest Post: Government shows leadership on equal pay

June 13th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by the PSA:

John Key’s Government has shown true leadership on the issue of equal pay for working women.  It set up a high-powered group led by the next Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and including  Phil O’Reilly, unions and Government Negotiators, tasked with developing equal pay principles under the Equal Pay Act 1972.

This was a bold and brave move by the Government and the fruits of the group’s efforts can deliver real gains for working women and their families.  It has developed and agreed comprehensive principles for the implementation of equal pay in female-dominated work in New Zealand. The agreed principles are here.

In just four pages, the group has established a process by which women doing work that is predominantly performed by women can make a claim for equal pay, and have outlined the assessment process as well as stating how a claim will be settled. 

The process suggested provides that any employee or group of employees can raise a claim and contains a list of factors that must be considered when determining the merit of a claim. 

These factors are not overly legalistic or technocratic.  They include consideration of whether the work has been historically undervalued because of the origins or history of the work, or whether there is some characterisation or labelling of the work as “women’s work” or a social, cultural or historical phenomena whereby women are considered to have “natural” or “inherent” qualities that may have led to historical undervaluation of the work. 

The assessment will consider whether the remuneration paid has properly accounted for the nature of the work, the levels of responsibility associated with the work, the conditions under which the work is performed, and the degree of effort required to perform the work.   

The claim will then be thoroughly assessed by looking at the skills, responsibilities, conditions of the work and the degrees of effort of the work done by the women. 

One important aspect of the assessment is that it must fully recognise the importance of skills, responsibilities, effort and conditions that are commonly over-looked or undervalued in female-dominated work such as social skills, responsibility for the wellbeing of others, emotional effort, cultural knowledge and sensitivity. 

The assessment of the claim can also include an examination of the work being performed and that of appropriate comparators. These may include male comparators performing work which is the same as or similar, or aspects of which are the same or substantially similar, to the work being considered.

It has been quite a journey to get these principles agreed by employers, unions and the Government Negotiators, and comes after a landmark decision by the Employment Court in the Kristine Bartlett case.

Working women in New Zealand have been undervalued for too long and implementation of this new approach to equal pay would be an historic break-through and a lasting legacy of this Government.

Fleur Fitzsimons is a solicitor with the PSA who works on equal pay.

No officials shouldn’t decide where stores go

June 12th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Diabetes New Zealand chief executive Steve Crew said one in four New Zealanders were pre-diabetic and an estimated 40 people a day were diagnosed with diabetes.

The problem was a huge one for the health system, he said.

The study’s results were not surprising, as Asian, Maori and Pacific people all had higher rates of diabetes.

But there were several factors at play, such as being able to afford health care.

Diabetes was often picked up earlier in patients who were able to afford to visit the doctor for a check-up.

A tax on sugary drinks and processed sugar would help, while the placement of fast food outlets should also be more regulated, Crew said.

“In Auckland there are certain parts [where fast food outlets] seem to be congregated more than others.

“It’s a fine line between having a nanny state, if you want to go out and have a burger you can, but it’s about having these processes in place so officials can work together about where to put these stores.”

No officials shouldn’t decide where stores can go. They should be able to go wherever a location is zoned for business activity.

The proposal to ban dairies within 800 metres of schools, for example, would see almost no dairies in Auckland.

Say you think no McDonalds within 500 metres of a school or ECE centre. Well there was an ECE centre in the Reserve Bank, so that means McDonalds on Lamption Quay would be banned.

486 state houses empty due to meth contamination

June 11th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

More than 1200 state homes are currently vacant.

About 486 empty because of methamphetamine contamination. Another 1 per cent of state housing — around 730 properties — are empty in the short-term, because of maintenance or turn-over of tenants.

So 486 families are missing out on a state house because of the previous tenants. And when you deny them a state house because they keep contaminating them with P, they cry to the media that the cost of the motel they are staying in is too high.

There comes a point where there should be consequences for the lack of responsibility.

Pugh clarifies

June 11th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

National MP Maureen Pugh says she’s not an anti-vaxxer and she supports the use of pharmaceuticals, such as Panadol and anaesthetic.

The former Westland Mayor spoke out on Facebook on Friday to make clear her views on healthcare.

“In the past I have spoken about funding programmes for health professionals other than doctors but I believe this should be done alongside mainstream general practice. It should also involve degree-qualified health practitioners,” she wrote.

“I do support the use of pharmaceuticals, such as Panadol and anaesthetic, when they are needed and all of my children are fully vaccinated,” she wrote.

This is reassuring. As I said there is nothing wrong with saying you shouldn’t over-use drugs. But the original comments implied an opposition to drugs full-stop.

Karl du Fresne on democracy

June 11th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Karl du Fresne writes:

I’ve always thought democracy is a pretty good sort of system. Not perfect, of course, but as Winston Churchill said: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

In other words, it’s the best we’ve got until somebody comes up with something better.

Well, it seems someone has. In Masterton, of all places.

You probably thought, like me, that democracy works because it gives us the right to choose our representatives and to get rid of them if we don’t like them.

But Masterton District Council has decided that’s flawed, or at least not appropriate for Masterton. The council wants to improve democracy by appointing iwi representatives with voting rights to two of its standing committees.

Yes, you read that correctly. They would be appointed, not elected. But like elected councillors they would have the right to vote on matters affecting the rest of us.

Whatever this is, it is not democracy. It’s something else for which we don’t yet have a term.

Perhaps we could call it part-democracy or near-democracy or almost-democracy until someone comes up with something better.


I don’t want to sound alarmist. The appointment of iwi representatives to two council committees isn’t likely to be the end of the world.

The genuine councillors – the ones actually elected by the people of Masterton – would still be in the majority. And it’s possible that iwi representatives would make a sincere attempt to make decisions in the best interests of the entire community. But that’s hardly the point. 

Democracy is a package deal. It doesn’t come with optional extras that you discard if they don’t happen to suit you. And the danger is that once you start subverting democratic principles, even with the best of intentions, anything becomes possible.

So very well said.

If there’s no longer a rigid rule that the people who make decisions on our behalf must be elected by us and accountable to us, reformers will soon find other ways to “improve” the system – all in the interests of fairness, of course.

This is how democracy gets undermined – by inches and by degrees. Ultimately someone might decide that voting is a clumsy and inconvenient process and that democracy would be much more efficient if we got rid of it altogether. It’s happened in plenty of other places.

Sadly it has.

Is it possible that 100 years hence, queues of international visitors will line up outside Masterton Town Hall to gaze admiringly at a plaque that says: “Masterton – the Place Where They Fixed Democracy”? Somehow I doubt it.

I understand the worthy intent behind what the Masterton council is doing. In an ideal world there would be more Maori in local government. But it’s fanciful to interpret the Treaty of Waitangi as imposing an obligation on councils to provide seats for unelected iwi representatives.

You can be fully supportive of having more Maori involved in local government, but also think this is a terrible idea.

How electorate seats may affect things

June 10th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader writes:

The latest one news poll came out tonight and projects a 122 seat parliament.

My understanding is that this is based on the act party, United future and Maori all getting more seats than their party vote says they should get.

Would you be able to do some commentary on your blog about what affect it would have on the make up of seats of nats won Epsom and ohairu, and labour won all the Maori seats.

I would have thought it would mean a Nat majority government?

Would be interested to see if by having those three minor parties out if it would make all the difference.

Would national consider knocking them out for ts own benefit?

Generally speaking if a party wins an electorate seat and gets under 0.4% party vote then it is an over-hang seat and helps their side of politics. If they get over 0.4% then it depends on the actual result as to whom they take the seat “off”.

Here’s what the Colmar Brunton result would be like with no seats won by ACT, UFNZ or Maori Party.

  • National 58 to 59
  • Labour 35 to 35
  • Green 15 to 15
  • NZF 11 to 11
  • Maori 1 to 0
  • ACT 1 to 0
  • UF 1 to 0

On the original result Nat/ACT/UF/Maori had 61 seats out of 122 – one short of a majority. If National and Labour won seats off the small parties then National would have 59 seats out of 120 – two short of a majority.

They don’t sound very right wing to me!

June 10th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A protest organiser in Masterton has welcomed uniformed members of a right wing group wanting to march against child abuse in the town.

Mother-of-five Liz Rikiti and Amanda Dette have arranged a Justice for Moko march in Masterton on Monday June 27, the same day as the Rotorua High Court sentencing of Tania Shailer and David William Haerewa, a couple who pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Moko Rangitoheriri, a 3-year-old in their care tortured to death over a two-month period.

Masterton scrap worker Vaughan Tocker, who heads the Right Wing Resistance in Australia and New Zealand and claims to hold the rank of lieutenant-general, said his group planned to stand shoulder to shoulder with child abuse protestors later this month and march against child abuse ” – as well as “Islamisation”.

Why only lieutenant-general? He should self appoint himself to be Field Marshall!

Mr Tocker and his group dresses in black military outfits and has called for bans on state asset sales, the Trans Pacific Partnership, Muslim immigrants and Chinese investment in New Zealand.

Which political parties in New Zealand are against asset sales, the TPP, immigration and Chinese foreign investment? Not National or ACT. One can work out pretty easily which ones have similiar policies!


Makes the Greens look moderate

June 10th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand needs to get rid of 80 per cent of its dairy cows because dairying is dirtying our water.

That was the message delivered to the annual meeting of Wanganui Federated Farmers by its former president.

Rachel Stewart, president of the group for four years in the early 2000s and guest speaker at Friday’s annual meeting, is an “ardent critic” of farming.

Dairy off memory is around 7% of GDP. So an 80% reduction is likely to reduce GDP by around $11 billion or $2,500 per capita.

Ms Stewart predicted there would be synthetic milk in five years, and people wouldn’t be eating meat in 10 years.

Her predictions seem as robust as her policies. I’m very very confident people will be eating meat in 100 years time, let alone 10.

An MP who doesn’t believe in pharmaceutical drugs

June 10th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

National’s newest MP Maureen Pugh has a secret she hasn’t even told her colleagues – the former Westland Mayor doesn’t believe in pharmaceutical drugs.

Pharmaceutical drugs are like physics – they’re not something you believe in or don’t believe in. Religion is something you can or can not believe in. But pharmaceutical drugs have been shown to be effective through thousands and thousands of trials, and have saved millions of lives.

The wife, mother of three adult children and grandmother to six, says she avoids using terminology such as “alternative medicine” because it “conjures up an image of crystal-waving, unshaven women”.

But one issue she has a particular interest in is health that falls outside “mainstream health” and doesn’t involve pharmaceuticals.

There are many good health measures that do not involve pharmaceuticals. But they are complementary not substitutes.

Up until now she’s kept her family’s health choices to herself, which includes only ever giving her children chiropractic care.

And what if one of them broke their leg? Or got cancer?

“They’ve never been on antibiotics. They have a really healthy immune system – there’s nothing wrong with getting a cold or getting a flu – if you have a healthy immune system you can deal with it.”

I’m one of those who will try not to use drugs. Not through a belief they don’t work, but general male reluctance to accept help. So I often delay using drugs until I’m really really sick. And that’s fine. But I will use them when I need to, and they make a difference when I do use them.

There is a difference between not rushing to use drugs, and refusing to use.

Pugh, who doesn’t take any kind of medication, says nature delivers whatever people need and she’d like to see the Government take a more holistic approach to how it allocates health funding.

This sounds like something you expect from Green MP Steffan Browning, not a National MP. Nature does not deliver whatever people need. Nature delivers Ebola for example. Nature used to have most people live until around age 40 instead of 75.

“If I had a dream it would be to have a pilot programme run somewhere or to have a bigger look at some of the way the funding follows the patient.”

“I think there’s a real opportunity for us to save the country millions of dollars in pharmaceuticals by treating the whole person and the environment they live in, which is all about healthy eating and healthy living.” 

The two are not substitutes. Health living and eating are important. I’ve turned my health around by making better living and food choices over the last few years. But that doesn’t mean pharmaceuticals are not needed and I still get my flu vaccine.

Not her home

June 10th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Social housing tenant Wendy Ross feels “like a criminal”.

“I haven’t done anything wrong … I’ve worked, I’ve paid my taxes, I’ve raised my family, so why are they trying to make me leave my home?”

Last year we brought you the story of Ms Ross who, having lived in her three-bedroom Whanganui state house for more than 30 years and raised her family there, had been told she would have to move out.

She has now been given a date for her marching orders – July 18 – though that has only strengthened her resolve to remain in the house she considers her home. Ms Ross, who works for the minimum wage as a carer and lives alone, has been told by the Ministry of Social Development that she is no longer eligible for a state house.

The ministry told the Chronicle that social housing reforms introduced in 2014 were intended to ensure that “people living in social housing still need it”.

With respect it isn’t her house. It is a house owned by the Government which she got to use for 30 years at a greatly subsidised rental. Now her kids are grown up, there are other families who need a subsidised three bedroom house more than she does.

We’ve heard a lot about some families being homeless. Well the answer is to prioritise social housing to those most in need, which is not the same as those who have been in one the longest.

NZ health researchers back e-cigarettes

June 9th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

It is illegal in New Zealand to sell e-cigarette liquid containing nicotine; only Ministry of Health-approved nicotine replacement therapies such as patches and gum can be sold.

People smoke e-cigarettes by inhaling a liquid vapour produced by vapouriser – a practice backed by the government in the UK, which allows them to be sold everywhere, including in supermarkets and at corner shops.

Prof Blakely said the benefits of vapourisers included a 50 percent increase in quit rates when people vaped while trying give up cigarettes.

Yet they remain illegal.

Prof Glover said legalising vaping could be worth considering.

She said there were many “lies” circulating about the safety of vaping, including “dodgy research” that deliberately created negative results.

But British research such as the Public Health England report and a review by the Royal College of Physicians UK had concluded that vaping was about 95 percent safer than smoking, she said.

“There are some unknowns but all signals – looking at the UK, looking at the US, and the drop in prevalence in those countries – far more rapid than we’ve experienced here.”

If the Government was serious about reducing harm from from smoking, it would fast track a law change to allow people to access e-cigarettes as least as easily as actual cigarettes. The status quo of making it illegal to sell the liquid for e-cigarettes must go.

Hiding your colours?

June 9th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar


How interesting. This billboard is on Onslow Road. In the bluer areas of Wellington it appears the Labour logo is being painted over.

As the official Labour Party candidate for Mayor, you’d think he’d be proudly showing off their logo and have bright red billboards using their branding.

Why not means test home support?

June 9th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Looking at the financial circumstances of elderly people before providing home support has been ruled out by the Government.

Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga seemed to indicate such a step was being considered to help cope with the increasing cost of home support.

About 72,000 seniors currently receive home support, and that number and the associated cost is growing.

In question time today, Labour’s health spokeswoman Annette King asked Associate Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga what work was currently underway to look at means testing and asset testing for older New Zealanders needing home and community support services.

“There is work being done on the health of older persons strategy, that does involve looking at the increasing flexibility and responsiveness of funding streams. It also looks at improving the integration and collaboration within the health sector,” Mr Lotu-Iiga said in response.

However, this evening his office clarified that means testing and asset testing was not being considered.

That’s a pity. You can do more for those who genuinely need help, if you target assistance to those less well off.

Labour lies on health

June 9th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Labour have been going on for months claiming that health funding has not grown to keep up with our population and inflation. They cite a figure of $1.7 billion of under funding on this basis.

I made the mistake of assuming their figure was correct, and not checking up on it previously. I just assumed someone else would have.

But as I had some spare time last weekend I went through the Vote Health expenditure for the last decade. I then got the CPI figures and the resident population figures. And put them into the table below.

Health Funding

So health funding has increased by 35% in nominal terms. In real terms it has gone up 20% since 2008 and even in real per capita terms it is up 8.3%.

That’s pretty good considering the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes led to huge deficits, which the Government also had to close.

Public Polls May 2016

June 8th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


Curia’s monthly newsletter is out. The summary is below:

Curia’s Polling Newsletter – Issue 97, May 2016

There were two political voting polls in May 2016 – a Roy Morgan and a Newshub Reid Research.

The average of the public polls has National 16% ahead of Labour in May, down 3% from April. The current seat projection is centre-right 58 seats, centre-left 51 which would see NZ First hold the balance of power.

We show the current New Zealand poll averages for party vote, country direction and preferred PM compared to three months ago, a year ago, three years ago and nine years ago. This allows easy comparisons between terms and Governments.

In the United States Clinton’s chances improved in May with a projected 126 elector lead in the Electoral College. Overall satisfaction with the direction of the US remains extremely low at a net -40%.

In the UK Remain is at 65% and Leave at 35% in the prediction markets. Brexit trails by 3% in the average of the polls.

In Australia The election is on a knife edge with the current seat projection being the Coalition having a one seat majority only.

In Canada Liberals remain sky high in the polls and confidence of the country direction has reached a new high of +27%.

We also carry details of polls on the Kermadecs, housing and US ship visits plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to to subscribe yourself.