Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Education and profit

January 8th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte writes in the NZ Herald:

On these pages late last year, Linda Mitchell, an education lecturer at Waikato University

I tend to stop reading when I see the phrase “education lecturer at Waikato”! But Jamie did read it.

She claimed the quest for profits damages the service provided. Or, as she put it, an interest “in making profits for owners or shareholders positions Evolve Education Group at odds with more community spirited aims to invest fully in the service itself”.

That profits injure consumers is a familiar idea. But this should not blind readers to its absurdity.

Kindergartens, like most enterprises, need capital and labour. The capital pays for the buildings, equipment and so on, and provides cover for “rainy days” when costs exceed revenue. The labour at a kindergarten is mainly teaching but people also work on administration, cleaning and maintenance.

Ms Mitchell is right that if the people who contributed capital were not paid for it then more could be spent on educating the children.

Yet the same is true of those who provide labour. Imagine a kindergarten with four teachers. If they all took a 20 per cent pay cut, they could hire a fifth teacher on the same pay and give more attention to each child. If they worked for nothing, they could hire even more extra teachers and pay for all sorts of other services that might benefit the children.

Why does Ms Mitchell not lament the fact that teachers are paid for supplying labour? Why is paying teachers not also “at odds with more community spirited aims to invest fully in the service itself”?

Excellent points by Dr Whyte.  Why do they argue against a return on capital, yet for a return on labour.

Second, eliminating profit harms the intended beneficiaries: in this case, children receiving preschool education. A kindergarten that gets its capital from profit-seeking investors must provide a good service. If it doesn’t, parents will take their children elsewhere and profits will decline. If the kindergarten performs very poorly, it may even go out of business and lose its shareholders the money they invested. A privately owned kindergarten, like any privately owned enterprise, has a powerful commercial incentive to provide a good product or service.

Yep. Unlike at school level, pupils are not forced into their nearest school.

Ms Mitchell pointed to the insolvency of ABC, an Australian preschool company, as evidence against private ownership. This is the crowning glory of her confusion. That underperforming private firms are subject to insolvency is a virtue of private ownership, not a vice.

The same applies to charter schools. A charter school that fails will be closed down. State schools that fail get given more money.


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Greens predicted petrol would be $10 a litre by 2018

January 8th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader reminded me of this release by Russel Norman in 2008:

Predictions from prestigious Australian research institute CSIRO that petrol could cost up to AUS$8 – about NZ$10 – per litre within a decade means we need to rapidly change course to avoid serious economic disarray, Green Party Co-Leader Russel Norman says.

“Petrol at that price would make the Government’s entire motorway building project a white elephant – modern day Easter Island statues. Our new motorways would be monuments to short sightedness and profligate waste of resources.

“Governments even contemplating building motorways like the billion dollar-plus Transmission Gully project in Wellington or the $2 billion Waterview tunnel project in Auckland are seriously out of touch with reality,” Dr Norman says.

The economic disarray would have come if we had followed Dr Norman’s advice and did our transport planning on an assumption of $10/litre petrol.

If the Greens had intellectual consistency, they would now come out and say that Waterview was justified, as the cost of petrol is now under $2/litre and likely to stay there for years.

“We have no choice but to move to a far less oil-dependent economy, because rising prices will give us no choice.

The Green movement have a history of predicting massive shortages and associated price rises of natural resources, and being basically wrong every time.

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MBIE struggling

January 5th, 2015 at 10:59 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

The State Services Commission has delivered a scathing report on the performance of the government’s ‘super ministry’ two years after it was created by merging four government departments.

The commission’s first performance review of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says the ministry has significant external and internal problems.

It says the ministry needs work, its human resources (HR) systems are an irritant to progress and it has weak leadership and governance.

Out of 32 areas of review, the commission dished out 27 ratings of ‘weak’ or ‘needing development’. …

The review said MBIE’s policy creation was not coherent, that its advice was not consistently meeting ministers’ expectations, that its Senior Leadership Team struggled to be the “sum of its parts”, and there was a high level of frustration among managers.

The review’s authors stressed that MBIE’s performance was adequate but said there were “concerns for future performance”.

One of the core functions of MBIE is to provide cohesive and future-focused policy advice to the Government.

The average rating ministers gave to its policy advice was 7.1 out of a possible 10 and the report’s authors expressed concern about the “variable service across ministerial portfolios”.

They said ministers were having to chase MBIE to find out who to speak with about their own portfolio.

“This is evidenced by a perception that the responsibility for manoeuvring across different parts of MBIE is now the responsibility of Ministers, rather than MBIE presenting with a senior leader who can deliver all of the relevant parts of MBIE to each portfolio Minister.

This report comes as little surprise to those in the beltway who have been hearing grumbles about MBIE for some time. There are some very good staff there, but it is far from functioning as one unified ministry, rather than a series of silos.


How Kiwis see America

January 4th, 2015 at 7:39 pm by kiwi in america

Having lived in the US for 8 years but having business interests in New Zealand that bring me back home frequently, I have had a good ringside seat as to how Kiwis view America. It has been fascinating to witness US and world events through an American media slant and how my friends, family, business compatriots and my local community in the US see things and then see how the same events are portrayed in the NZ media and perceived by NZ friends, family and business contacts. The differences can be quite marked. This essay seeks to explain why and covers six key areas:

1 – Media

Public opinion is still largely shaped by media although the rise of blogs like this has blunted the power of the mainstream media. We all know what is meant by the term “mainstream media”. Amongst those on the centre right, it is a code for the left leaning or liberal tendencies of the old legacy media (in the US: NYT, WaPo, LAT, ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and NPR along with establishment journals like Time, Slate and TNR augmented by left leaning blogs: Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, Daily Kos and even supposedly neutral political online sites like The Hill and Politico). These outlets dominate elite thinking in the US and are almost exclusively are the feeds and sources chosen by NZ media when reporting on the US. NZ media then apply a filter that interprets US news through the same lens that non US establishment elites apply to the US in Europe (Reader’s Digest version: that the US is a predatory economic superpower that throws its weight around the world as the world’s self-appointed policeman). The NZ public are served up a left leaning US MSM world view filtered through a mildly anti American kiwi media lens. This process by-passes the extensive right wing media alternatives that have grown strongly in the last 20 years at the expense of the legacy MSM (Fox News, talkback radio, NY Post, Washington Times, Wall Street Journal, The Blaze, National Review, National Standard and Commentary magazines and the rise of several key centre right blogs such as Hot Air, Powerline, Red State, Breitbart, Pyjamas Media and Real Clear Politics). In terms of aggregate audience and nationwide reach, particularly into heartland America, the collection of right leaning media either matches or exceeds the audience of the legacy MSM. NZ media consumers are rarely exposed to both sides of the robust, intense and often partisan political debate that is a strong feature of American political life unless they go out of their way to read centre right US blogs or watch some of Fox News. There is universal opprobrium of centre right US news sources by most NZ media commentators and a blanket extremist tag is placed on every and all sources lumping the moderate Brit Hulme with the more right wing Glenn Beck. US media consumers, especially those on the right, are able to separate out the various conservative media and ‘rank; them for quality. Similarly rather than apply an ideological blanket over Fox News, US viewers know for example that Fox News’ hard news team (Brit Hulme, Shepherd Smith and Chris Wallace etc.) are highly regarded as more neutral highly professional news guys whereas the nighttime line up on Fox features more conservative commentators with far less hard news who view the political news of the day though a much more right wing partisan lens.  More moderate right leaning contributors like Fred Barnes, Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer are assumed to be the same as Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Glenn Beck when they most decidedly are not.

NZ media consumers are pretty much shut out from not only the bulk of centre right commentary from the US but are less able to weigh the quality of what little content is reported on. This means most US affairs reported on in NZ  are done so through a mostly left wing lens with virtually no attempt to even report what the right is saying let alone applying any qualitative analysis to what the US right says. This renders making truly and deeply informed opinions about US politics and US responses to global affairs more difficult in NZ.

 2 – Political systems

To most kiwis the American political system seems chaotic and messy. The American system does indeed involve a level of complexity rarely seen in other democracies: its unique division of powers at the Federal and State level, the primacy of the Constitution, the frequency of elections, the states being like 50 countries and then add in counties, cities and countless ballot initiatives (referenda) and you have a mélange of governments, elections and competing interests. In NZ we have triennial elections of Parliament and a similar staggered triennial cycle for local bodies and that’s it. It is easy for kiwis to assume that less is better and to dismiss America’s version of democracy as an almost excessive indulgence especially when outsiders consider the vast billions expended in each electoral cycle especially at the Presidential level. When assessing the US political system, here are some things for NZ observers to consider:

  • America was founded on a political experiment to do things explicitly differently from England whereas NZ’s Parliamentary tradition is a direct Westminster clone albeit with modifications over time (e.g. abolition of the Upper House)
  • America’s political system stems from its founding document the Constitution whereas the British system has evolved over time. For example the Constitution dictates when elections are held (first Tuesday in November depending on what office/body being elected) whereas the NZ system gives the governing Prime Minister the power to decide the exact election date (within the three year term limit). Both systems work fine. Both systems make it difficult to change electoral law without strong bipartisan consensus (the Constitutional amendment process in the US and the entrenchment provisions of NZ’s Electoral Act)
  • America was a collection of separate colonies that chose to federate – NZ was one colony that had separate provinces that were abolished early on in its history. NZ has a unitary government administering almost all executive governmental functions in a unified manner across the country. US states are sovereign and the Constitution specifically limits the role of the Federal Government leaving all unspecified matters to the States. Thus a huge amount of law and administrative/governmental processes and procedures are decided at the state level leading to considerable differences in laws between states. When it comes to education, this is decided at an even lower (city) level with large metro areas having multiple separate school systems. All schools in NZ take the same holidays at the exact same time whereas in the US, each district decides their own system. I help coach a high school aged club rugby team that straddles three city school districts and they all have their own spring break and not at the same time!
  • Electoral laws are decided at the state level leading to quite different election procedures in each state such as: when special (by) elections are held, how lieutenant governors are elected, who can participate in primaries and when primaries are held and who/how boundaries are redrawn. NZ has codified such matters in the Electoral Act or designated administration to quasi-independent bodies such as the Representation Commission or the Electoral Commission.
  • American voters get to have a much greater say on governance matters than their kiwi counterparts. A larger number of officials who preside over voters are subject to voter approval such as a variety of state wide offices and judges. More matters can be put to referenda due to lower petition thresholds, some states make the results binding on legislatures and in all jurisdictions, bond issues and sales tax increases are always put to voters via ballot initiatives. NZers are only able to express opinions on these matters indirectly through the election of the national (note the small n) government.

Politics in NZ is most definitely simpler but American politics is more rich and varied and American voters, notwithstanding the noise, expense and confusion, have a far greater say in their destiny.

 3 – Business

Calvin Coolidge (the 30th American President) once famously said that the business of American is business. This is an accurate statement. Big business built America. The oil, steel, railroad and coal barons catapulted America to the world’s largest and wealthiest economy in a single generation in the late 19th century. Having done business in the US, NZ, Australia, Canada and a bit in Europe I find Americans are the easiest to do business with. They analyze deals the quickest, they get to the nub of a deal quickly, they are usually polite and professional, they are self-assured and firm in what they want, they are better at assessing and taking risks and they have unrivalled access to capital. Starting businesses and being an entrepreneur is in their blood – entrepreneurship is the life blood of the modern US economy and it is considered universally as an honourable and revered career pathway. It is not quite the same in NZ.

NZ was built by big government because only government had the sufficient access to capital to build infrastructure and business. NZ pioneered various key welfare state provisions and have only gradually and carefully given some of them up. Many big businesses could only thrive with government protection (tariffs) or subsidies. Government interventions in NZ are more welcomed, expected and tolerated. More kiwis see business in a less than positive way. The hard socialist left (those who detest and publicly oppose capitalism) comprises barely 1% of the US electorate – when you add the Greens, Mana and the left wing of the Labour Party, fully 15% of the NZ electorate are largely hostile to capitalism. This negativity towards business, free markets and capitalism bleeds into wider NZ societal views. NZ’s experience with freer markets is barely 3 decades old so the culture of entrepreneurial business startups and seeing them as the backbone of a vibrant growing economy is in its infancy.

This divergence of views on business between the US and NZ can be illustrated in my observations of how each society views business success and failure. In America successful business people are mostly admired, respected and followed whereas in NZ there is a vocal and sizable minority who consider successful businesspeople through a negative lens assuming that they have somehow ripped people off to “get rich”. This same divergence is evident on the flip side: in the US if you fail in business most people are sanguine and nonjudgmental and the widespread view is to encourage those who fail to get up and have another go and not give up citing the various successful businessmen (e.g. Steve Jobs at Apple) who failed before they succeeded. In NZ the attitude to failure (outside the small enclave of successful small/medium business entrepreneurs who see failure like most Americans) is to judge the failed businessperson in such a way as to leave somewhat of a black mark on their reputation sometimes for decades especially if the failure occurred in smaller cities.

4 - Religion

In no area do kiwis misunderstand American culture more IMO than over religion. The gulf between the percentage of Americans who attend church regularly and the same percentage in NZ is huge and this gap explains why many kiwis are baffled by the very large role faith plays in American life. Roughly 85% of Americans profess belief in God – a figure double the equivalent in NZ. Over 50% of Americans attend church regularly compared to only 10% of the NZ population. These figures only tell part of the story. Belief in God is widely accepted in most parts of America (exceptions being the east and west coast progressive enclaves) and with that comes an acceptance of prayer, of mentioning God in public, of invoking God in public speech and discussion of, and hope for, miracles. Such pronouncements of faith occur despite concerted efforts by atheist litigants to sue various persons and groups who show public displays of faith. Such displays are almost unheard of in NZ and those who participate are usually ridiculed off the public stage. Nowhere is this gulf more apparent than in politics. In America, politicians routinely invoke God’s name, the most common saying being the almost obligatory “and God bless the United States of America” at the end of speeches, many openly profess a belief in God and tout regular church attendance and belief in prayer all of which are seen as electoral plusses. Indeed the number of professed atheists in elected office at ANY level in US politics runs in single digits – a miniscule number compared to the many thousands of people who hold elected office. Being an atheist is such an electoral negative that even people who really are atheists hide their atheism and nominal Christians like Obama, even if they have ceased to be regular church goers, will go through the motions of church attendance and at least give the impression they believe.

In the NZ the exact opposite is the case. To admit to a belief in God, to attend church regularly, to confess to regular prayer and belief in miracles would be electorally toxic in all but the safest National electorate seat. Being an atheist is common place – NZ’s last two Prime Ministers professed no belief in God and suffered no electoral backlash for this. What is thoroughly mainstream behaviour in the US is considered ‘godbothering’ nutter fringe territory in NZ. This gulf causes NZ observers of the US to assume that there is something slightly odd and weird about America because so many believe in a Deity. It enables stereotypes of rednecks and backwater hicks to be exaggerated and for the mocking to take on an almost anti-Christian tinge to it as the now mostly secular average kiwi struggles to make sense of why God, church and the Bible play such a large part of US life particularly in the heartland regions. Some NZers tend to favour discussion with secular Americans and become a little nervous coping with Americans who do profess faith and belief because such beliefs are extremely rare in polite society in NZ.

5 – The military

It has been many decades since New Zealand was on a genuine war footing with many of our young men enlisting to fight in a war. New Zealand is far from the world’s hot spots and our military involvements since the Korean War have been modest and limited with the recent SAS assignment in Afghanistan being one of our longer deployments. For this reason military culture has faded from prominence in most of NZ society. For many years military enlistment was a more prominent part of Maori family life with so many Maori joining mostly the Army. Deployments in Singapore and NZ Peace keeping efforts overseas meant Maori families were proportionately more impacted by NZ’s military commitments.

In the US, the impact of the military on everyday American life is far more pronounced and reaches far deeper into the fabric of US society. US per capita spending on defense, whilst a lot lower than it has been, still far outstrips similar per capita spending in all other first world democracies. Such is the sheer size and scale of the US military that there is barely a single Congressional district in the country that does not have some kind of military installation or base. The overseas deployment of US forces, either in peace or war, has a far more pronounced impact on US society than in NZ. Many many more families are impacted particularly in heartland areas of the US where enlistment rates are far higher than the more liberal urban west and east coast enclaves. Americans understand the vagaries of the military, the arbitrary transfers, the odd hours, the threat of death or disablement due to American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the primacy of the command structure and the loyalty to one’s country that is needed to serve in difficult circumstances. There are significantly fewer NZers who appreciate the sacrifice made to serve one’s country in the military. Regardless of what people may think politically about America’s wars and America’s foreign policy, it is much more difficult for kiwis to see things as Americans do when it comes to war and the military because we are so much more isolated from both matters. Meeting serving and former Marines who have served in wars is a sobering experience as they talk about what war is really like. Almost to a man they served with bravery and distinction and are proud of what they did for their country. Hardly a family I know in my community does not have someone in their extended family that either is serving or has served in some branch of the military. When former servicemen die, active duty members of their service arm attend their funeral in uniform, reverently fold the US flag in an elaborate ceremony, and give the flag to the widow or other close family member with care and always with the words “on behalf of a grateful nation”. I must confess to being quite moved by such burial services especially the 3 (or more) volley salutes always given at the graveside. Few kiwis are similarly exposed and this makes understanding of US foreign policy decisions harder to understand.

6 – Guns and Crime

Non Americans love to criticize the American love affair with guns. For a good percentage of the lives of most NZers, America has featured a high crime rate particularly of gun related homicides. And for any kiwi over 40, we lived most of our lives in a relatively crime free world and with an unarmed police force with very few gun related homicides. When this reality was the norm, it was very easy for NZers to look askance at America and judge that the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms was a foolish anachronism. In the last 20 years roles have somewhat reversed. Property related crime (burglaries and car theft) soared in NZ as did assaults and rapes and murders increased markedly as well. At the same time, many US cities adopted the famous New York City broken windows/crime hotspot management approach to policing with dramatic reductions in all forms of crime but particularly homicides. Whilst all reported crime in NZ has come down off the highs of the mid 2000’s, it is still true that, if you take homicides out of the equation, most US states have a lower crime rate than the US. This new reality does not prevent old stereotypes of NZ being safe with a low crime rate and the US being violent with a high crime rate from dominating some kiwis’ perception about the US. In fact if you took out of the US stats, the crime rates of five key crime ridden metro areas (LA, Chicago, Washington DC, Baltimore and Philadelphia), US non homicide crime states would be even lower than NZ.

The issue of guns and gun laws suffers from the same perception fate as the crime rate with NZ observations of America. Most kiwis see the mass shootings as evidence of the folly of the US right to bear arms. Few realize that gun related crime has dropped dramatically as has the overall US homicide rate over the last 20 years and that the mass murders are incredibly rare but highly publicized events. The real picture is even more nuanced because recent statistics prove that violent crime rates in states where they have what are called concealed carry laws (the right for properly licensed private citizens to carry a hidden handgun in public) are lower than in the states that have more restrictive gun laws. Chicago and Washington DC stand out as two of America’s most violent cities and both sport the most restrictive gun laws. The issue is complicated by the reporting of high profile murders by the liberal media who are known to strongly favour more restrictive gun laws and they work very hard to promote events that favour this narrative. What is RARELY reported (at least in the national media) are the numerous incidents of violent crimes averted by a private citizen brandishing or using their concealed carry weapon scaring off the gun toting person who could commit a violent robbery or even mass murder. A potential major crime averted is never as big a story as school child shot by a gun toting madman.

Kiwis are prone to see America as a violent place riven with crime perpetrated mostly because so many Americans own guns. The reality is actually quite different but such perceptions strongly shape some kiwi perceptions of American life.


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Dotcom says he wants to quit NZ

January 4th, 2015 at 12:53 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Embattled internet tycoon Kim Dotcom says he is now considered a pariah and is looking to quit New Zealand.

In an exclusive interview with theHerald on Sunday the Mega founder, who is facing internet piracy charges, says he is bearing the brunt of a vicious public backlash since September’s general election and now thinks his only option is to leave his adopted home.

He said he was renewing his offer to the Department of Justice to voluntarily travel to the US for his trial. But this was on the condition he was given bail and that assets seized in the 2012 Dotcom mansion raid are returned to him.

I doubt bail would be a problem, but I suspect return of the assets would be, as they are forfeit if he loses the case, and releasing them would possibly put them beyond the court’s control.

Dotcom was at a loss to explain why the tide of public opinion had turned so harshly against him.

“It’s turned into something very ugly,” he said. “Now I am a pariah.

“The funny thing is I haven’t changed and I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong. I’m still the same guy who only a matter of months ago people were cheering for.”

I blogged here on why opinion turned. I’m surprised he has not been able to work out why. The preposterous forged e-mail was the final nail in the coffin. Leading chants of FU John Key did not help, plus spending $4.5 million trying to change the Government.

Dotcom, who founded the Internet Party, which then forged a controversial and ultimately disastrous alliance with Hone Harawira’s Mana Party, said his political intentions were “pure”.

“The Internet Party stood for good for all New Zealanders. I thought I was doing people a favour and it backfired.”

Yeah, Right. You vowed to destroy the elected Governing Party, which around half the country support – and see this as good for all New Zealanders. It was utu.


Anti-fluoride campaigners talking nonsense

January 4th, 2015 at 11:55 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Anti-fluoride campaigners are alarmed at a “sinister” move to slide through a law change over Christmas, validating councils’ power to add the chemical to drinking water.

Medsafe opened public submissions on November 25 on a law change to stop fluoride being legally defined as a medicine – meaning it can be added to municipal water supplies. The deadline for submissions is this Friday.

The law change comes after a High Court justice said the law needed clarification, as he ruled against an appeal by anti-fluoride groups to stop fluoride being added to water.

David Sloan, the director of anti-fluoridation lobby group New Health New Zealand, said the Ministry of Health was rushing the law change. But the organisation’s request to extend the timeframe for submissions outside of the Christmas and New Year period was dismissed by the Ministry of Health.

“We’re a voluntary organisation and all have jobs, so to expect us to put together a good submission in that timeframe is terrible,” Sloan said. “This is kind of a sinister move by the Ministry of Health.”

Submissions are open for 45 days. That is pretty standard.

I’m sure they have their submission pre-written anyway, as it will be the same as all their submissions – fluoride is a poisonous toxin blah blah blah.


No contraception no dole says former Labor MP

January 4th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar reports:

NO contraception, no dole – that’s the view of an ex-Labor Minister who believes welfare should be linked to compulsory contraception.

Gary Johns, writing in The Australian, suggests there should be “no taxpayer inducement to have children”.

The former MP who served in the Keating government admits such a measure will “undoubtedly affect strugglers, [and] … Aboriginal and Islander people in great proportions”.

“But the idea that someone can have the taxpayer, as of right, fund the choice to have a child is repugnant.”

Welfare should be there for people who have a child and then lose some of their income through a split, redundancy etc. It should not be there for people already on welfare unable to support their existing children, to continue having more children.

The ex-Minister claims “it is better to avoid having children until such time as parents can afford them”.

That’s what 90% of families do. They time having children to when they can afford it, and they limit the number to what they can afford. But around 10% just have child after child on welfare, as taxpayers get them more and more money. We should limit welfare so that if you are already on welfare, you don’t get additional welfare payments if you have further children on welfare.


Clark’s chances for UN top job

January 2nd, 2015 at 10:54 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealanders might not have found the campaign for a UN Security Council seat especially thrilling, but the possibility of former Prime Minister Helen Clark leading the United Nations is a common subject of speculation.

Could it happen? The answer is yes, but not easily.

Prime Minister John Key has said the country will back Clark if she puts up her hand to become the next UN Secretary General.

There is no question that she wants it, but that does not mean she will go for it.

She would not go for it without New Zealand’s full backing, and New Zealand’s backing of her depends on what Eastern Europe does. It is considered Eastern Europe’s turn to supply the next Secretary General, a view that New Zealand accepts.

Clark’s chances rest on whether Eastern Europe can come up with a consensus candidate, one acceptable to Europe, the US and Russia.

With the current crisis in relations over Ukraine, that is not a simple task.

If it can’t find a consensus candidate, Clark will almost certainly seek the post and would be a front runner.

If there was no suitable Eastern Europe candidate, then Clark would be a strong contender. But she may have annoyed some by starting her unofficial campaign too early. The Guardian notes:

The field of those seeking to be the next secretary general is widely felt to be underwhelming. Helen Clark, the head of the UN Development Programme, gave an example of how a UN official should not behave when, before the current secretary general was even halfway through his term, she began to discuss, in these pages, her interest in succeeding him. It is time for something more serious.

The lead candidate at this stage appears to be Irina Bokova, the Bulgarian Director-General of UNESCO.

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Dom Post on Wellington Local Government

January 1st, 2015 at 11:15 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

For Wellingtonians, barring the earthquake we’re always half-expecting, the super-city decision looms as the biggest event. Mooted for years, it’s already provoked loud opposition from most of the region’s mayors; they’re concerned about a loss of local autonomy and the costs of a merger.

They’re mistaken. The current menagerie of mayors and councillors is overkill. Wellington is a modestly-populated region with a shared heart.

It needs bolder, more coherent leadership, and residents should grab the opportunity for a shake-up.

We don’t need eight Mayors for the region.

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If schools become meal providers, what happens at holidays?

January 1st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

An interesting comment at Whale Oil:

As I was eating crayfish last night I was wondering who is feeding all those 10,000s of starving kids we keep hearing about who are living in poverty over this xmas New years break while the schools are closed?

I haven’t read any reports of them turning up in droves at A&E suffering from malnutrition …or are they only starving when politicians are not on holiday???

This highlights the problem of making schools responsible for feeding kids, rather than parents. What happens at school holidays?


Fairfax scores 141/200

December 31st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The 2014 Fairfax predictions have been scored.

  1. “National will get a lift in the polls early in the year as the economic news gets better.” 10/10
  2. “John Key will reshuffle his cabinet lineup in the first two months of 2014.” 9/10
  3. “At least one of the Green MPs will step down before the general election.” 5/10
  4. “Two of Labour’s ‘old guard’ will go on the list to give themselves the option of quitting after the election without triggering a by-election.” 0/10
  5. “Brendan Horan, Eric Roy and John Hayes will not be MPs by the end of the year.” 10/10
  6. “Irrespective of the election result, David Cunliffe will stay on as Labour leader.” 3/10
  7. “The Genesis Energy sale will go ahead, but for the election campaign National will call it a day on the partial privatisation programme.” 10/10
  8. “Conservative leader Colin Craig will stand in the East Coast Bays seat, his party will get into Parliament but will not cross the 5 per cent threshold.” 6.66/10
  9. “The economy will start to flag late in 2014 as rising interest rates start to bite.” 6/10
  10. “The brawl between Judith Collins and Steven Joyce over who will inherit John Key’s crown will heat up as the election approaches.” 2/10
  11. “Mr Key will give the thumbs up to talks with all of National’s potential allies: ACT, the Conservatives, the Maori Party and UnitedFuture. But he will make it clear NZ First will be his last cab off the rank if he is in a position to form a government.” 10/10
  12. 12. “The Maori Party will win two seats at the election.” 10/10
  13. “Key will visit the White House and host a high-profile return visit.” 5/10
  14. “ACT will not get more than 1.5 per cent of the vote.” 10/10
  15. “New Zealand’s push for a temporary seat on the United Nations security council will be successful.” 10/10
  16. “A senior member of David Cunliffe’s office will quit.” 10/10
  17. “Housing will be one of the most contentious themes of the year, prompting National to announce further measures to help low-income and first-home buyers.” 10/10
  18. “There will be upsets in the seats of Napier, Mt Roskill, Te Tai Hauauru, Ohariu and Maungakiekie.” 4/10
  19. “The election will be held in October.” 0/10
  20. “National will form a government with at least two other parties.” 10/10

Not a bad score. Their 2015 predictions come out tomorrow.

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Press Council slams Waikato Times

December 30th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged back in April on a disgraceful front page story in the Waikato Times that published an allegation from Curwen Rolinson (NZ First Youth Leader) on Facebook that the Waikato Young Nationals had purchased 202 copies of Dirty Politics to do a Nazi style book burning.


As you can see the Waikato Times didn’t only make it their front page lead, they even commissioned a graphic of the book burning.

They were told the story was false. They decided to run it as a front page lead, and now the Press Council has slammed them for it in one of the harsher rulings I have seen.

The Press Council has said:

The Press Council recognises that social media are a frequent source of information that can be checked and developed into stories capable of meeting the standards of accuracy, fairness and balance expected by readers of a reliable newspaper.

In this case the Council does not believe the newspaper had sufficient corroboration of the claim on Facebook. The Times’ additional source, a student who would not be named, claimed to have seen Mr Letcher with more than 200 books. If that statement were true, it does not establish that Mr Letcher intended to burn them.

The Facebook posting as reported by the Times, said, “So apparently the CNI Young Nats (and presumably the NZ Young Nats) are buying up copies of Nicky Hager’s # Dirty Politics….and burning them.” The word “apparently” should be noted. It suggests the information was at best hearsay, at worst an assumption by a person associated with a rival political party.

The Times called it “rumour” but its report also claimed to have confirmed part of the rumour. It is therefore difficult to accept the Regional Editor’s response that the paper was merely reporting an allegation. Its confidence in its own source and its decision to splash the book burning allegation across its front page would have given the story credibility in the minds of some readers. 

While Mr Letcher’s denial was also reported prominently, this does not redeem the report. Newspapers need to be careful when dealing with rumour that is denied. A false accusation can easily be made for the purpose of forcing a political opponent to deny it publicly. That indeed is said to be a device of “dirty politics”. Newspapers should take care to ensure they are not unwitting instruments of it.

Basically the Press Council has said that the Waikato Times was part of Dirty Politics themselves.  They smeared Aaron Letcher on the basis of a Facebook post by a political opponent and an anonymous source.

They refused to admit they did anything wrong:

The Times did not base stories solely on social media but those media often provided tips or starting points for stories. In this case the allegation on social media was supported by a source the Times considered credible and agreed not to name, which is standard practice for news organisations.

Their anonymous source lied to them, as there were not 202 books purchased or in Letcher’s possession. You only have to protect sources that tell you the truth.

The WaikatoTimes could not substantiate this rumour to a standard that meets the Press Council’s principles of accuracy and fairness. Mr Letcher’s complaint is upheld.

The Press Council has upheld, by a majority of 8:3, a complaint against the Waikato Times over a front page report of a claim that Young Nationals had bought hundreds of copies of the book Dirty Politics, intending to burn them.

What I find amazing is that it was  only an 8:3 decision, not 11:0. I can’t think of a more clear cut example, especially when you consider how it was made a front page lead. Of interest the three who said it were fine are all members meant to be representing the public, while all the members representing newspapers, magazines and journalists condemned it.

I hope the  Waikato Times runs the decision of the Press Council with the same prominence as they did the original story, and they finally apologise to Aaron Letcher for the outrageous smear they published as a front page lead, linking him to a purported Nazi style book burning.

UPDATE: The Waikato Times has not mentioned the ruling on their front page, but have it on an inside page. The front page is devoted to the worthy talents of Miss Whangamata.

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Tweeting MPs

December 30th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald looks at some MPs worth following on Twitter.

  1. @jacindaardern. 25,200 followers
  2. @AndrewLittleMP. Followers: 4840
  3. @cjsbishop. Followers: 1850
  4. @grantrobertson1. Followers: 10,400
  5. @jamespeshaw. Followers: 2220
  6. @paulabennettmp. Followers: 3853
  7. @TrevorMallard. Followers: 7391
  8. @winstonpeters. Followers: 9257
  9. @PeterDunneMP. Followers: 5698
  10. @tauhenare. Followers: 6061 (Tau is there as honorary Minister of Twitter outside Parliament).

Some amusing extracts:

Most memorable exchange this year was after someone proposed a sitcom starring Judith Collins and Robertson. Robertson suggested George and Mildred “but with weapons”. Collins replied he was being hard on himself given George was “a lazy, do nothing, gambling moaner”. Robertson replied: “Who said I was George?” Is also humble – of his low ranking on a blog’s “hottest MPs” list: “my hotness is so powerful it is not necessary to talk of it.”


After Samoa’s Prime Minister urged women MPs not to forget their housewifely duties, Bennett tweeted: “can’t read the full story, rushing home to cook husband dinner.”



Vance’s MPs to look out for in 2015

December 29th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance details some MPs to look out for in 2015, who may make headlines. They are:

  • Andrew Little, Labour Leader
  • Todd McClay, MP for Rotorua and Revenue Minister
  • Alfred Ngaro, National List MP
  • Chris Bishop, National List MP
  • Phil Twyford, MP for Te Atatu
  • Kelvin Davis, MP for Te Tai Tokerau
  • Stuart Nash, MP for Napier
  • Peeni Henare, MP for Tamaki Makaurau
  • Megan Woods, MP for Wigram
  • James Shaw, Greens List MP
  • Fletcher Tabateau, NZ First List MP
  • Ron Mark, NZ First List MP
  • Judith Collins, MP for Papakura
  • Maurice Williamson, MP for Pakuranga
No tag for this post.

2015 predictions

December 29th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

In emulation of the excellent Fairfax annual predictions, here are my political predictions for 2015. Some serious, and some less so.

  1. There will be a by-election in 2015
  2. There will be no changes to the composition of the Key Ministry in 2015
  3. Two Labour List MPs will leave Parliament in 2015
  4. The Government will post a small surplus for the 2014/15 fiscal year
  5. Andrew Little will remain Labour Party Leader
  6. Jacinda Ardern will be annointed Labour Party Deputy Leader
  7. Four of the original five charter schools will get good reviews, but one will close
  8. Not a single members’ bill will pass into law in 2015
  9. At least one person on Labour’s list, will waive taking up their spot in Parliament, when vacancies occur
  10. An MP will announce their engagement
  11. Helen Clark will not stand for UN Secretary-General
  12. Labour will reach 30% in at least one poll in 2015
  13. Trevor Mallard will throw Winston Peters out of the House for disorderly conduct
  14. An MP will get pregnant in 2015
  15. Whatever decision the Government makes on helping combat the Islamic State, it will be condemned by the Greens
  16. No ACT MP will be charged with a crime in 2015
  17. A visit to NZ by David Cameron will be announced in 2015
  18. The winning design in the first flag referendum (to decide which goes off against the current one) will have a Silver Fern on it
  19. Claire Trevett will hold onto power as Chair of the Press Gallery, defeating the ABT faction once again
  20. The Government will not give a cent to Sky City for the convention centre

Herald profile of Mark Mitchell

December 27th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald is profiling some backbenchers. Today is Mark Mitchell, MP for Rodney:

You’ve been in Parliament three years, so what’s the best advice you can give to a new MP?
The best advice I got – and I applied it throughout my whole life – was that when you are embarking on a new job or a new challenge, it is really important to listen, to watch and listen and pick up as much as you can and then start applying what you’ve learned and do the best that you can.

What would be your dream portfolio if you were ever in Cabinet?
My dream portfolio would be trade. I’m deeply passionate about trade and that’s really what drove me back home to get involved in politics. I see the future of our country is tied directly to how well we can continue to trade with the rest of the world.

What do you mean “drove me back home?”
I had my own company when I lived in the Middle East. My company was operating in a lot of emerging markets that are fairly important for New Zealand and I felt we could have been doing better. We were living in Kuwait and basically my wife said to me one day, ‘stop moaning about it and do something about it’. I reflected on it and thought the contribution I could make would be to return home and get involved in politics.

What sort of company was it?
There were two parts to it. I was involved on the management board of a global logistics company, one of the top 10. It was in about 120 countries with about 500 offices with about 30,000 employees. The second part was a security risk management company I formed myself, which was in about 14 countries, and had about 3000 employees which I was the chairman and CEO of. In 2010, when I decided to come back, the company was sold.

So Mark formed and ran a company with 3,000 employees. Very impressive.

Have you got a goal for 2015?
A goal in terms of my electorate is to continue to advance Penlink, which is an important infrastructure project that links the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, back into State Highway One. Locally, I’ve also begun a holistic review of what investment is required to keep our services in line with the amount of growth we are expected to absorb. About a third of all current residential building consents lodged at the Auckland Council are for Rodney. In terms of personal goals politically, I would like to obviously pick up a ministerial portfolio, so I will continue to work hard and show I am capable of taking on that responsibility. And in terms of personal goals, we are defending the Parliamentary Rugby World Cup title in the UK in 2015 and I’m the co-captain, with Damien O’Connor [Labour, West Coast-Tasman].

Mark’s majority in Rodney is 20,230.  He got 24,519 votes and the Labour candidate 4,289!


Scoring my 2014 predictions

December 27th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

My 2014 predictions were here. Some serious, and some not. How did I go?

  1. Colin Craig will be a Member of Parliament by the end of 2014 – 0
  2. The election will be held in October 2014 – 0
  3. Genesis Energy will be sold by May 2014 – 1
  4. There will be two new Ministers before the election – 1 (Lotu-Iiga and Wagner)
  5. At least one electorate Labour MP will be successfully challenged for their party’s nomination (or will withdraw before the vote) – 0
  6. At least two more National MPs will announce they will retire before the election – heaps did – 1
  7. Brendan Horan will not be an MP by the end of 2014 – 1
  8. The 2014 Budget will project a surplus of between $100 million and $250 million for 2014/15.  1/2 – $372 million projected.
  9. NZ will not win the election for the UN Security Council – 0 – thankfully wrong
  10. At least two Green MPs will be ranked outside the top 15 on the Green list – 1/2 – Browning was on the draft list and Walker went off the list
  11. The Maori Party will have at least two MPs after the election – 1
  12. Len Brown will go – 0.
  13. Hone Harawira will attend less than half the House sitting days in 2014 – have to check but pretty sure he did under half – 1
  14. National will campaign on tax cuts and Labour on tax increases – 1
  15. Jamie Whyte will be elected the Leader of ACT and candidate for Epsom, but ACT will not make it back to Parliament – 1/2 – thankfully wrong
  16. Peter Dunne will be re-elected MP for Ohariu – 1
  17. NZ First will have fewer MPs after the election, than they got in 2011 – 0
  18. A prominent journalist will stand as a candidate for the Kim Dotcom Party – 0 – they all said no
  19. National will both gain and lose electorate seats at the election – 1/2 – lost Napier
  20. After the 2014 election, Parliament will be at least 38% female, up from 34% – 0 – dropped to 31%

Overall – 10/20 – just scraped through.


Is Fairfax showing their colours?

December 26th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

An interesting article on Stuff naming 5 people who tried to make NZ a better place, and 7 who didn’t. The author is unknown, but what they write is very revealing.

They name Nicky Hager as someone who made NZ a better place.

They also said Kim Dotcom was in with a chance to make NZ a better place but didn’t as his parties failed to get into Parliament. Does that mean the author thinks NZ would be better if he did get in?

The author also attacks Mike Hosking and Paul Henry:

But both leapt back into the limelight to spout their biased beliefs as Hosking took over Seven Sharp and Henry started The Paul Henry Show to replace Nightline on TV3.

Oh dear we can’t have anyone on television who is unsound, can we.


Labour candidates calls Christianity “toxic wares”

December 24th, 2014 at 12:12 pm by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes in Manawatu Standard:

Thursday is Christmas Day. For most New Zealanders, this is not much more than a hard-earned day-off, an occasion to gather with family and licence to eat a quite a bit more than one’s diet allows.

It is also (particularly for children) about the material aspirations of gift giving.

For New Zealand’s Christians, of course, it is also an important religious festival commemorating the nativity of their Man-God. It is the end of the penitential season known as advent and a time of great celebration. …

Instead, the wider culture is now hostile to orthodox Christianity, which is held to a much higher standard of scrutiny than other religions and cultures.

Those who are quite happy to casually sneer at Christians around the office coffee machine seldom have the courage to do the same when other minority identities are concerned.

Where media commentators are purposely respectful of other faiths, they are seldom afraid to propound ignorantly about Christian doctrine or issue bone-headed advice to Christian leaders.

Last month one of Labour’s candidates at the election took to a popular Left-wing blog to publish a tirade against Christians in the party.

The Bible was repeatedly denounced as “snake-oil” and the Christian God was described as “a mean Mutha” who “nailed up his only son as a lesson to other wrongdoers”.

It’s a free country and those kinds of screeds should not be censored.

But just picture the outcry that would have followed a major party candidate writing anything as remotely incendiary about Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism.

Can you imagine the high-dudgeon and editorial hand-wringing such an outburst would occasion?

This is a good and valid point. There is a double standard. Let’s look at what Labour’s Whangarei candidate wrote:

The brutal scars of Christianity do not discriminate, but there is no doubt that that Christian fundamentalism has taken a great toll on the Rainbow community and followers of the Pope have been responsible for most of it.

Imagine what Labour would say if a National Party candidate wrote about the brutal scars of Islam?

We all know the misery that has been inflicted in this Christian god’s name. There’s a smile from one. We’ve already had a discussion about how this Christian god is such a mean muthafucka that he nailed up his only son as a lesson to other wrongdoers. 

Again imagine a National Party candidate talking about the misery inflicted in the name of Allah, and how Mohammed was a pedophile. There would be complaints to the Human Rights Commission.

The brutal scars of Christianity do not discriminate, but there is no doubt that that Christian fundamentalism has taken a great toll on the Rainbow community and followers of the Pope have been responsible for most of it. 

Again try this as “The brutal scars of Islam do not discriminate, but there is no doubt that Islamic fundamentalism has taken a great toll on the Rainbow community, and follows of Islam have been responsible for most of it.”

I’m no fan of the Catholic Church when it comes to their views on sexuality, but last time I checked you didn’t have any Catholic or Christian states that executed people for being gay.

These bible-bashing god-botherers have no greater claim on our time than Amway sellers or other marketers of snake oil. And, yet, even an organisation as broad and inclusive as the Labour Party allows these toxic wares to be purveyed at its meetings. 

One can have a rational discussion on whether party meetings should allow prayers, but the hatred and bile at Christianity is something that would be unacceptable about any other religion – coming from someone who was standing for election just two months ago.




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Caption Contest

December 23rd, 2014 at 4:53 pm by David Farrar


Stuff has a gallery of some of the great photos their photographers have taken this year. Go check them out, but also I couldn’t resist borrowing this one (by David White) for a caption contest. As always go for funny, not nasty.

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Let Sky City walk

December 23rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Council and Mayor Len Brown were yesterday blindsided by suggestions from the Government and SkyCity that ratepayer money be used to fund the shortfall in costs for a controversial convention centre.

SkyCity chief executive Nigel Morrison yesterday also confirmed his company wants a taxpayer-funded top-up and was willing to walk away from the deal if it doesn’t get it, after last week revealing a rise of up to $130 million for the centre, originally priced at $402 million.

SkyCity was favoured by the Government to build the centre over rival bidders for its willingness to fund and operate the facility itself without taxpayer funds, in return for gambling concessions including more gaming machines and a licence extension.

Mr Morrison said SkyCity “absolutely” wanted a taxpayer top-up and issued a veiled threat to walk away from the project.

“This is an unprecedented investment in tourism infrastructure in Auckland.

If Auckland doesn’t want it, if New Zealand doesn’t want it, quite frankly that’s fine with SkyCity, we don’t have to do this,” he told Radio New Zealand yesterday.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, who has overseen talks with SkyCity, said Mr Morrison was “entitled” to try to seek taxpayer dollars. But “I have some slightly more cynical news for him, which is, that’s unlikely to be the case.”

Let Sky City walk, rather than give them taxpayer dollars. They are trying to do a Rio Tinto on the Government and extort some money from them, for something they have agreed to do. I hope Steven Joyce stays firm.

Eric Crampton makes the point:

A government committed to using PPP arrangements also has to be ready to play hardball with contractors who lowball initial cost estimates lest they encourage stupidity in each and every future contract.

The point of what is effectively a PPP is that the private sector partner carries the risk, rather than the Government.

Instead, Mr Joyce said any shortfall which could not be covered by removing costly features, downsizing the centre or more effectively managing construction costs could be offset by an operating subsidy from the council. “The other option is asking for the Auckland Council to come in, not necessarily with capital but if you look at the Wellington Council, they’ve just done a deal to do a convention centre, a much smaller one but they’ve underwritten some operating costs so that might help.”

They should downsize the centre so that it can be constructed for the original price.

The Wellington convention centre deal has actually just fallen over.

The Herald understands SkyCity would also like the council to offer millions of dollars in concessions on costly red tape necessary to build the centre.

Getting rid of red tape for developments would be good.


Have fewer kids ad don’t blame the Sallies

December 23rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An Invercargill couple say their six young kids will go without on Christmas day and it’s the Salvation Army’s fault.

However, the Salvation Army says the parents are to blame for their family’s predicament because they have relied on handouts rather than trying to help themselves.

Shelly Edwards and Leo Hewett said their six children aged 3-10 will get no presents and have a diet of chicken and bread on Christmas day because the Salvation Army failed to help them in their time of need.

“How can we tell the kids there’s nothing for Christmas?” Shelly asked from their south Invercargill state house yesterday.

Shelly said she was on the invalid’s benefit and received a working for families benefit, while her partner was unemployed and seeking employment at the meatworks.Their weekly income was $631 but just $15 was left over after paying for their rent, bills, food and petrol.

If you are on the invalids benefit, then you have probably been on there long-term. So wouldn’t it be a good idea to stop having kids, if you are struggling to pay for the ones you already have? Over 90% of families do this. They discuss how many kids they can afford (and want), and restrict their family to that size. Yes, accidents can occur – which is why we have a generous welfare system for families, but primarily you should not keep having more kids if you are on welfare and unable to provide for the ones you already have.

Struggling to afford a decent Christmas for their kids, they thought it was sorted when the Nga Kete trust referred them to the Salvation Army scheme called adopt-a-family, which sees businesses and individuals sponsor struggling families during Christmas by providing them with a hamper filled with food and treats.

The family had been on the same scheme last year and received presents for their children, a supermarket voucher and a food hamper, they said.

However, when Shelly failed to turn up to a budget advice meeting early this month she was told she had been taken off the adopt-a-family scheme this year, she said. …

Salvation Army spokeswoman Brenda King said the family had never been put on the adopt-a-family scheme this year, effectively because they had failed to help themselves.

Shelly had been using the services of the Salvation Army for about two years and when she received more than three food parcels in one year she was referred to a budget advice centre to receive financial planning assistance, King said.

However, Shelly had not engaged with the budget advisory service so was not put on the adopt-a-family scheme, King said.

The Salvation Army’s aim was for its clients to get to the point where they could look after themselves and be self sufficient.

“If we keep handing out we are enabling them to stay in the situation they are in. We aren’t actually helping them at all in the long run.”


Incidentally I think their estimate of their income is low. I make it:

  • Invalids Benefit (couple rate) $217.75
  • JobSeeker (couple rate) $174.21
  • Family Tax Credits (for six kids) $414.00

So that is a total of $805.96 a week net, not $631. On top of that it is highly likely they get the accommodation supplement or a statehouse subsidized rent.

It would be nice if media did not just take for granted what people say they earn, but independently check their entitlements as I have done.

UPDATE: Assuming there are not two Shelley Edwards in Invercargill, it would seem the mother has convictions for fraud and dishonesty, and breaching home detention. The Judge commented:

You are a thoroughly dishonest woman

Also Stuff has closed comments on the article after just a couple of hours, presumably because they were running 99 to 1 against.

This is why trust in media keeps falling. They just present a sob story to their readers with no independent research or fact checking.


NZ inflation targeting led the world 25 years ago

December 23rd, 2014 at 6:39 am by David Farrar

Neil Irwin in the NY Times writes:

Sometimes, decisions that shape the world’s economic future are made with great pomp and gain widespread attention. Other times, they are made through a quick, unanimous vote by members of the New Zealand Parliament who were eager to get home for Christmas.

That is what happened 25 years ago this Sunday, when New Zealand became the first country to set a formal target for how much prices should rise each year — zero to 2 percent in its initial action. The practice was so successful in making the high inflation of the 1970s and ’80s a thing of the past that all of the world’s most advanced nations have emulated it in one form or another. A 2 percent inflation target is now the norm across much of the world, having become virtually an economic religion.

The article has some interesting history on how we made that decision to have the Reserve Bank focus on inflation only. It is a policy that is now followed by pretty much every sane country.

Sadly in NZ the Greens and NZ First rail against it (Greens wanted to print money just a year ago) and Labour has signed up for watering it down. Low inflation doesn’t happen by chance. Who wants to go back to the bad old days of high inflation?

A $100 basket of goods in 2008 only costs $112 today – six years later. But if you looks at the period 1978 to 1984, a $100 basket of goods would have gone up 105% to $205 in just six years.

One of the best way to help low income families is to keep inflation down.

Hat Tip: Eric Crampton


A reader writes in

December 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A reader writes in:

I flew up to Auckland today on an Air NZ flight at 5pm. I was in the back row, seat 23C. To my surprise and yes, delight, Steven Joyce and a private secretary had the two seats next to me in that back row.

Steven Joyce would not know me from a bar of soap but he engaged in pleasant chit-chat as we taxied for take-off and I assume he did not know I knew who he was. What really impressed me was that a Minister of the Crown was in the very back seat of such a flight and clearly was happy to be there. I have never in all my years of flying in NZ encountered a cabinet minister in the back row (they are almost always in the first or second rows).

I’ve also had readers e-mail me about how they sometimes see the PM at the Koru Club, and he always queues up to get his own coffee, rather than have a staffer get it for him.

Of course with the new Koru coffee app, no more queuing for it!


Assault complaint against an MP

December 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police have been investigating an assault complaint against government MP Mike Sabin.

There are no details as to what the complaint or complaints allege, and whether or not they are recent. Hard to comment without knowing more. Sabin is a former police officer.