WCC stop trying to muzzle Councillors

Stuff reports:

Wellington City councillor Nicola Young has accused senior council staff of acting undemocratically by investigating her for an alleged conflict of interest without her knowledge.

Council officers commissioned a legal opinion from prominent lawyer Andrew Butler on whether she was conflicted on the Wellington Central Library vote because her son works at Beca – a firm that put forward a design proposal.

This is outrageous to get a secret legal opinion behind the back of a Councillor, because staff think there may be a conflict. If you think there is a potential conflict, discuss it with the Councillor.

Young said she was not consulted before the legal opinion was sought. She was provided with the opinion at a meeting with council staff in September.

“I thought it improper for officers to have commissioned a legal opinion without first discussing it with me, especially as their concerns had not been raised at any stage before this meeting,” she said.

I’d be furious also.

Earlier this year, Foster sought legal advice from law firm Simpson Grierson to try to stop Fitzsimons and other councillors from sharing opinions about the library proposals.

Also wrong. Councillors are allowed yo express an opinion in public on an issue. It’s why we elect them.

More MIQ madness

Stuff reports:

Brad Stephenson’s father only has one or two days to live.

But Stephenson has been denied an exemption to leave MIQ early to say a final farewell despite being double vaccinated and having tested negative for Covid-19.

Stephenson has been fully vaccinated since June, and has taken three PCR tests in the last nine days. But his application to leave the Crowne Plaza facility early has been declined on the grounds he poses too much of a health risk to New Zealand.

How someone ever thought giving bureaucrats the final say over life and death situations like this is beyond me. Just as the tough immigration decisions go to the Minister, as he can use discretion to take account of individual circumstances, so should these sort of decisions. I bet you any elected (not appointed) official who actually has to face meeting those affected by their decisions would grant permission to leave early.

And when we have over 100 new cases a day already in the community, the decision goes from merely uncaring to truly despicable.

We should make another vaccine available

A reader writes in:

Im hoping you may be able to help me  raise some awareness.

Someone very close to me, like a relatively small number of people is unable to have a Pfizer vaccine due to allergy (others also due to existing medical conditions.)

For some in the above groups an alternate such as Jensen or AstraZeneca (both approved here) would offer protection from Covid perhaps not as good as Pfizer but better than no vaccine by a long way.

I have been told after making enquires with both  the MOH and my local MP 

that no alternative is available nor are there plans to make one available and to talk a medical proffesional. (Very condescending) 

I find this situation disturbing are we a team of 5000000 as the govt likes to tell us or 5000000 less a few hundred who dont matter? These people are getting called Anti Vaxxers and finding themselves excluded socially due to current messaging its taking a serious toll on them.

Could you please raise awareness of the situation nd the lack of an alternate to help those that find themselves in purgatory.

If we can secure extra Pfizer in a rush surely securing a supply of an alternate option is doable. 

I think we should make another vaccine available for those who can’t take the Pfizer vaccine. We don’t need a lot of does, just say 5,000 or so.

The Pfizer vaccine is excellent, but if making another vaccine available will lift vaccination numbers, we should do it.

Two books and the best ever documentary: What to do in a personal, national and international emergency.

In the House on Tuesday in answering a question the Prime Minister said something that filled me with deep concern:

“We have always taken our own approach on Covid”

This is close to the equal of her ridiculous earlier statement.

“Do feel free to visit covid19.govt.nz – otherwise dismiss anything else. We will continue to be your single source of truth. When you see those messages, remember that unless you hear it from us, it is not the truth.”

We have had no apology for the highly inactive/arrogant/little-dance approach to the 100 days Covid-free. We have had no apology to the lack of plan – facilities/treatments, etc during that time. We have had no apology that the government let delta in and facilitated its spread.

Matthew Syed wrote a brilliant book called Black Box Thinking. The premise is that in an emergency you have to listen to all voices and perspectives – without hierarchy. He begins the book through telling two stories. One is the death of Elaine Bromley in an operating theatre during a very routine operation. He delves into the stats and finds that annual deaths from medical mistakes in the UK can be above 34,000.

Syed notes: “With open reporting and honest evaluation, these errors could be spotted and reforms put in place. We are so worried about failure that we create vague goals so no one can point the finger when we don’t achieve them.”

He then writes about the tragedy of United Airlines 173. Why did it crash? Because the pilot could not distract himself from one alarm (landing gear that was – in fact – down) to hear another (fuel) and listen to an engineer. He lacked “situational awareness”. In the death of Elaine Bromley it was the inability of hierarchical medical experts (the surgeon and anaesthetist) to listen to a nurse who had a more wholistic understanding of what was happening and a better time-frame.

The author then goes on to explain how the medical sector has remained in a state of hierarchical and money driven funk (e.g. 100% trust big pharma) … while airline travel has massively improved it’s safety protocols by listening to ALL voices – dissenting included.

If I ever read the word “expert” in our media again it will be too soon.

Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book is The Bomber Mafia. He tells a story, without judgement, of the attempt to develop precision bombing in WW2 that failed and ultimately morphed into fire-bombing 67 Japanese cities with napalm and Hiroshima and Nagasaki being nuked. 100,000 people burned to death in one night in Tokyo. It speaks of intransigent people – in a bubble – reinforcing each other’s theories and discounting other options.

Gladwell’s book remined me of the great documentary; The Fog of War – on aspects of the life of Robert McNamara. It is a deeply disturbing account on parts of WW2 and the course of developments in Vietnam. McNamara is a remarkable human but the documentary leaves you to do the thinking on morality. One huge value is the 11 lessons that McNamara stipulates. They seem to apply in our current situation:

Lesson #1: Empathize with your enemy.

Lesson #2: Rationality alone will not save us.

Lesson #3: There’s something beyond one’s self.

Lesson #4: Maximize efficiency.

Lesson #5: Proportionality should be a guideline in war.

Lesson #6: Get the Data.

Lesson #7: Belief and seeing are both often wrong.

Lesson #8: Be prepared to re-examine your reasoning.

Lesson #9: In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil.

Lesson #10: Never say never.

Lesson #11: You can’t change human nature.

Like the documentary does I will leave you to judge if our government is applying any of these.

Today’s announcement cloaked some things.

  1. There is no chance of Auckland coming out of Level 3 prior to November 29. Personally – I will now miss 6 of the first 7 months of my grand-daughters life in Auckland. I have already missed the first year of my grand-son’s life in the USA and there is no light in the tunnel due to the MIQ situation. No nuance or consideration of situation.
  2. There is very little chance that all DHBs will get to 90% double-vaxxed – for some the possibility is many months away. Blamings the population when you, as the government, have stuffed up is poor politics 101.
  3. Personal freedoms are being sucked out like only the best Dyson can do.
  4. There is no major push towards alternative vaccinations or high-quality therapeutics/treatments.
  5. Stating the “Auckland has done all of the heavy lifting” shows a complete lack of empathy for all of the separated families and all of the provincial businesses smashed by a complete lack of tourism. Not only does this government lack empathy for Auckland – including education – but it has very little idea about the provinces either. The South Island really should secede.
  6. There seems to be no plan, or statistical change of status, in respect of the fact that the Pfizer vaccine is losing over half or its transmission protection within 6 months. People who received their second dose in May or before should start coming of the fully vaccinated list. In terms of passing the disease to children I have little interest in the vaccination status of teachers – I want to know if they have the virus and there is no hint of rapid antigen tests being provided in education.

I am a very distracted driver so Karen, my wife, drives on most of our long trips. There is too much great stuff to see out of the window. When ever we are driving, though, we have one clear agreement – the passenger always has the right to speak up whenever they perceive a hazard – with no grumping back! It has prevented a significant number of fender benders.

I have completely lost confidence that our government is listening to any of the passengers – or people world-wide who can help.

Alwyn Poole


National’s covid economic plan

National has released a 30 page economic plan to help families and businesses through covid. Key details include:

  • Increase wage subsidy eligibility to Level 2, recognising even Level 2 makes it hard for some businesses to operate
  • Reduce revenue loss criteria from 40% to 30%
  • Increase level of wage subsidy from $600 to $800 per fulltime staffer
  • Require MSD to process applications within five days
  • Give businesses in Level 3 and 4 a 50% rent subsidy
  • Give employers the legal ability to require vaccinations, if a risk assessment shows it is necessary
  • Take any area with at least 70% vaccination rates and no Covid cases to Level 1
  • Allow fully vaccinated businesses to operate at Level 2, even if community is in Level 3 or 4
  • Reduce company tax rate from 28% to 17.5% for two years for businesses with fewer than 20 staff
  • Move threshold for 10.5% rate from $14,000 to $17,000 for two years giving every taxpayer $420 more over two years
  • A two year moratorium on and new regulations or law changes that increase costs for businesses

All good stuff.

Keeping the community safe is not manifestly unjust

Stuff reports:

A man who drove around two Bay of Plenty towns threatening people up with a sawn-off shotgun to take their shoes, watches and phones has been jailed for 14 years after clocking up his “third strike” offence.

This is excellent, as without three strikes he might have got a sentence of just a few years.

In the space of a few days he pointed a sawn-off shotgun at four different groups of people robbing them. He pulled people out of cars and and punched and kicked them. He rammed another car on purpose.

And this was not just him having a bad day. He has four previous convictions for aggravated robbery. He has never had a job and has been a patched member of two gangs.

But despite this the Judge thought it would be manifestly unjust to make the 14 years without parole, so he is eligible for parole in less than five years.

On the plus side, I can’t see the Parole Board releasing him anytime soon, so he may end up serving the full 14 years unless he changes.

Winston apologises

Stuff reports:

Former deputy prime minister Winston Peters has apologised for comments he made on national television alleging former Mongrel Mob member Harry Tam helped a Covid-positive case breach the Auckland border.

On Friday, Tam, a former senior civil servant who now works with gangs, sent the former deputy prime minister and NZ First leader a legal letter, calling for a public retraction and apology by 5pm on Tuesday.

If Winston hadn’t apologised, he would have lost badly in court and had to admit his highly reliable source was an anonymous facebook post!

A great FTA with the UK

Radio NZ reports:

New Zealand has agreed in principle to the United Kingdom’s second free trade deal since Brexit, eventually eliminating tariffs on all New Zealand exports to the country.

The deal, worth an estimated $1 billion over 15 years to the New Zealand economy, would eliminate tariffs on all New Zealand exports, including honey, wine, kiwifruit, onions, most industrial products and – crucially – a range of dairy and beef products.

It also includes provisions ensuring animal welfare, and commitments to address environmentally harmful subsidies like those for fossil fuels or overfished stocks.

More than 97 percent of tariffs will be removed as soon as it takes effect, but would take up to five years for dairy and 15 for sheep meat and beef tariffs to be completely removed.

This is a great agreement. I don’t really care that there is a long phase in time, so long as the eventual destination gets us the tariffs gone.

Charles Finny notes:

If you had told me 10 years ago that New Zealand would on 21 October 2021 announce agreement in principle on a comprehensive high quality free trade agreement with the UK, and that agreement, over time, would lead to full free trade in beef, lamb and dairy products, I would have asked what you had been smoking or drinking.  

This would never have happened had the UK remained in the EU.

The intellectual property agreement is interesting. New Zealand has agreed to extend the copyright term for authors, performers and producers by 20 years. This will make it easier for New Zealand to meet US demands, should the US seek to rejoin the big Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).  

This is the only part I find disappointing, but a small price to pay for the overall deal. It takes copyright terms from life +50 years to life + 70 years. I think it should be at most life + 20 years so if a creator dies, their children will benefit from their works until they become adults. But I don’t see any benefits in works remaining in copyright for sometimes 140 years. No one is motivated to create more work in the hope it will earn revenue 70 years after they are dead.

The Prime Minister and Damien O’Connor and the negotiating team need full credit for what has been achieved so far, and it is great that Boris Johnson and his Government are prepared to deliver on their free trade rhetoric.

Yep full credit to our Government and to Boris, who has walked the walk.

How things have changed, for the worse

The Herald has an obituary for Peter Scherer, their editor from 1985 to 1996. It includes:

The editorial column was the only place in the paper he wanted to see a journalist’s opinion. He was a newspaperman of an age when reporters dealt strictly in facts and quotations, not impressions, descriptions, comment, analysis or anything that could be attributed to their opinion.

Bylines were a rarity when he was starting out and if readers never saw the editor’s name in the paper, that was exactly as he thought it should be. When he retired in 1996 he said, “In 41 years, I cannot remember writing for publication in the first-person singular.”

If newspapers still operated like this today, far more people would still read them.

Murupara’s decisions should affect them, not NZ

Maori TV reports:

A Murupara kaumātua says he and other local Māori don’t want the Pfizer vaccine and are waiting for other vaccines they think will be more effective.

The central North Island town has the lowest vaccination rate in the country despite the push to increase Māori vaccination rates. More than 90 per cent of its residents are Māori.

But Pem Bird of Ngāti Manawa says they won’t be getting the jab just yet.

“We’re not following the Crown’s directive. That has been our position for a while,” he said. “We won’t jump when we’re told to. We want the freedom to choose. We want a different vaccine.”

The majority of Murupara have every right to decline the Pfizer vaccine. That is their right. I think it is a stupid decision that will lead to many in their community getting sick or dying, but that is their decision.

But their decision, should not hold the rest of NZ hostage. New Zealand should lift lockdowns based on everyone having had the opportunity to get the vaccine, not based on a specific percentage. If the Government says that 95% of over 12s must be vaccinated to lift the lockdown in Auckland, then the decisions of people in places like Murupara will effectively hold Auckland hostage.

There is no longer any supply constraints on the Pfizer vaccine. The Government should say that everyone who wants their first jab has until say 1 November to get it. With three weeks wait for a second job, that is 22 November for second jabs and around 6 December for the vaccines to be fully effective.

Why were opposition MPs banned from the vaxathon?

Jason Walls writes:

But there was something the vaxathon did lack – the presence of Opposition MPs.

The event organisers were able to get US-based former pro-wrestler Chavo Guerrero to deliver a “get vaccinated” message to the people of New Zealand, but not a single National or Act MP made an appearance.

This is despite Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick and Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi both showing up for live crosses.

It is understood that both Act and National made MPs available for the vaxathon, but were not given the opportunity to meaningfully participate.

This came as a shock to both camps, especially given comments made by Ardern when announcing Super Saturday earlier this month.

“Our political parties have different views on aspects of the Covid-19 response, but we are all united in one thing: vaccination.

“So Super Saturday will be an opportunity for all of us to put aside our political differences—just for 24 hours—and work together for a cause that we all support.”

Her comments couldn’t have been clearer, which is why the backrooms of both parties were confused as to why they had not been contacted about participating in the event.

Their confusion turned to frustration when they ran into brick wall after brick wall, trying to get the likes of David Seymour and Shane Reti into the run sheet.

Even Judith Collins – who was quarantining in Wellington after spending a few days in Auckland ahead of attending Parliament this week – didn’t get to pass on so much as a video message.

Having politicians from across all political parties involved in promoting a single, strong “get vaccinated” message could have only helped the event.

As much as the Government’s tried, there are still more than a few vaccine-hesitant people across the country who won’t listen to the Government.

They might have listened to a Seymour, a Reti or a Collins.

It was a missed opportunity. People whose politics lean right and are vaccine hesitant are more likely to respond to messages from MPs whose politics are closest to them. The vaxathon did well, but if they hadn’t banned opposition MPs, it may have done even better.

Can Trump save the Democrats?

The Herald reports:

Former US president Donald Trump has issued a strange threat, saying Republican voters will boycott the nation’s next two election cycles unless his claims about widespread fraud in 2020 are “solved”.

Trump made the declaration in a brief, two-sentence statement after a judge in Georgia dismissed a lawsuit from his supporters, who were seeking to inspect 147,000 mail ballots.

Eleven months on from his defeat to Joe Biden, Trump still insists he actually won.

“If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020 (which we have thoroughly and conclusively documented), Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24,” he warned yesterday.

It is highly likely the Democrats will lose the House and the Senate in the 2022 midterms. It seems the only thing that could save them is Trump telling Republicans not to vote as the elections are rigged.

Trump’s election rhetoric was widely blamed for the poor turnout among Republican voters for a pair of close Senate elections in January, which resulted in Biden’s Democrats claiming total control of Congress.

Yep, he handed Georgia and the Senate to the Democrats with his claims. So he may save the day for them again.

Sir Ray Avery on a Path Forward (shared from Linkedin)


The Governments Covid mitigation plan is akin to the old days where Jacinda Adern would be holding up an A-Z roadmap ,looking for street signs and telling Ashley Bloomfield which turn to look out for on the road ahead.

The reality is we were lost ,day one, by starting off on the wrong road to Covid elimination.

This turned out to be a cul-de -sac and we are back  where we were nearly two years ago in Lockdown still trying to flatten the curve to prevent our failing Hospitals from becoming overwhelmed by Covid patients.

Millions of dollars has been spent on University academics who have no practical experience in the prevention of infectious diseases and who use theoretical models to predict how many Covid infections will occur is like asking a blind man for directions.

We need to get out the Sat Nav and key in a destination because the Sat Nav has a plan and can provide the safest and quickest route to our final destination.

The key objective for any leader is to look after the health and wellbeing of their people and in this regard our Prime Minister has failed her people.

Implementing one of the most draconian Global lockdown strategies to attempt to reduce Covid numbers and not factoring in the effects of these strategies on the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders is a road to disaster.

None of the Covid modelling strategies or the Governments Covid prevention plans have included long-term strategies to minimize the negative flow on effects that ongoing lockdowns have on the health and wellbeing and ongoing financial security of our people.

By way of example 84,991 Hospital patient procedures have been cancelled since lockdowns began. Tens of thousands of breast and bowel cancer screenings will not take place because the Government has not invested in Hospitals as part of its Covid mitigation strategy. The Government has no plans to address these problems.

Every day NZ police file around 450 domestic violence reports.

Foodbanks abound in our new NZ.

Our domestic violence and mental health agencies are overwhelmed as families are pressed together with increasing financial and emotional pressures and no sign of relief on the road ahead.

New Zealand has one of the lowest Covid Case Related Mortality rates in the world. This has nothing to do with the Governments Covid strategy but is due to being an island nation with a small population, low population density and social and environmental conditions which prevent high viral loads of Covid being transmitted in the community.

We need a holistic long term science based Covid plan that looks after the overall health and wellbeing of our people rather than taking directions from someone with an outdated map and no plan for the journey ahead.

Because otherwise in 2022 we will still be saying ARE WE THERE YET?

Sir Ray

National’s targets to end lockdowns

Judith Collins announced:

“We would put an end to lockdowns, reopen our economy and reconnect to the world when we hit 85-90 per cent vaccination, along with district health board and age-based milestones, or on December 1, whichever comes earlier.

For those who think 1 December is too early, by then Auckland will have spent 106 days or 15 weeks in lockdown.

How is Labour doing four years in?

Jacinda Ardern in 2019 declared that to be the year of delivery, so at the two year mark of her Government I assessed how their delivery had gone. I did the same at the three year mark and am delighted to do so again now they have have four years to deliver on their promises.

In summary their delivery is:

  • 1.2% of the way to their 100,000 affordable homes goal
  • 4.3% of the way to their one billion trees goal
  • 2.4% of the way to their emission free government fleet goal
  • Homelessness increased 463%
  • Net greenhouse gas emissions increased 0.99%
  • Child poverty rate has reduced by 0.4 percentage points
  • Has not yet started construction of Dunedin Hospital, promised to commence by 2020
  • Has not yet started construction of Auckland Light Rail, promised to be finished by 2021
  • Has decreased the proportion of the public sector outside Wellington by 5.6%, despite promising to relocate Government to the regions
  • The share of renewable electricity has declined from 83.4% to 78.8% despite promising 100% renewable
  • Said free tertiary frees would boost tertiary enrolments 15%, but they have dropped 3.9%

I will of course do another update in October 2022 and October 2023. We have a bit of left over money from the 2020 advertising, so can look to promote these again.

RIP Colin Powell

Colin Powell has died aged 84. He is one of those rare people who could have been President, but never ran for the office.

He grew up in the South Bronx as the son of immigrants from Jamaica. In 1958 he joined the Army, training in Georgia, where many establishments refused to serve him because he was black. His ranks were:

  • 1958 – 2nd lieutenant
  • 1959 – 1st lieutenant
  • 1962 – Captain
  • 1966 – Major
  • 1970 – Lieutenant Colonel
  • 1976 – Colonel
  • 1979 – Brigadier General
  • 1983 – Major General
  • 1986 – Lieutenant General
  • 1989 – General

He served and was wounded in Vietnam. He later served as National Security Advisor to Ronald Reagan where he helped negotiate arms treaties with the USSR. He was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to George HW Bush and Secretary of State to George W Bush. He became famous as Chairman during the first Gulf War,.

Polls showed that if had stood in 1996 against Bill Clinton, he would have won by a landslide 12%. Later as Secretary of State he had an almost unprecedented 88% approval rating.

Colin Powell was a stellar example of the American Dream – the son of immigrants who ended up with some of the highest offices in the land.

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