Simon said something sad and unfortunate (or so it seems) but we must be patient to learn from Dr Sharma what it was

Point of Order looks forward to hearing from Dr Gaurav Sharma, MP for Hamilton West.

Our interest in him and his sensibilities was whetted by a recent Parliamentary debate in which he indicated he had been upset by something National’s Simon O’Connor had said on the subject of academic freedom.

The occasion was the first reading of the Education and Training (Freedom of Expression) Amendment Bill, a private member’s bill promoted by ACT MP James McDowall.

The bill required tertiary institutions to protect freedom of expression and enabled them to issue codes of practice that set out procedures for students and staff to follow to uphold freedom of expression.

ACT and Nats supported the Bill.  Labour, the Greens and the Māori Party had the numbers to sink it before it went any further. Continue reading “Simon said something sad and unfortunate (or so it seems) but we must be patient to learn from Dr Sharma what it was”

Karl du Fresne on virtue signalling, Kiri Allan, Three Waters and secret donations

This article was published today on Karl du Fresne’s blog (HERE).

Newly promoted minister Kiritapu Allan has said what a lot of people think but feel unable to say. 

She lashed out in a tweet against “tokenistic” use of te reo by employees of DOC “as an attempt to show govt depts are culturally competent”. She told Stuff she encouraged the use of the Maori language, but wanted it used “with integrity”.

“You want to use te reo, you use it with integrity and use it responsibly,” Stuff quoted Allan as saying. “This isn’t a ‘everybody go out and use mahi and kaupapa’ and say you have a deep and enduring relationship with te ao Māori.”

Of course this shouldn’t apply only to DOC, where Allan was in charge before this week’s cabinet reshuffle resulted in her elevation to the justice portfolio. The same message could be directed at all government agencies where middle-class Pakeha public servants, eager to demonstrate their solidarity with the tangata whenua, indulge in an ostentatious display of virtue-signalling by using token Maori words and phrases.

I wonder whether Radio New Zealand also got the memo.  Continue reading “Karl du Fresne on virtue signalling, Kiri Allan, Three Waters and secret donations”

Oh dear – it’s “a disgrace” to look into posts filled by Mahuta family members (which might explain why ACT questions are ignored)

The public are being served heaps of news items about a fellow called Kamahl Santamaria, who was hired by TVNZ as breakfast host but has departed under a cloud.

In contrast, Point of Order has found just one mainstream media report (in the New Zealand Herald) which raises questions about the management of contracts awarded to Mahuta family members.  

It was headed Government contracts to husband and family of Minister Nanaia Mahuta ‘managed for conflict’.

Fair to say, Waatea News has shown an interest in this issue, too, although it was headed Mahuta attack fails to prove link.

Waatea News’ idea of checking out the truth or otherwise of the Herald’s report was to talk with former MP John Tamihere.  Then it recorded his huffing that

“… a New Zealand Herald story linking Minister Nanaia Mahuta to government appointments of family members was a disgrace to the newspaper.” Continue reading “Oh dear – it’s “a disgrace” to look into posts filled by Mahuta family members (which might explain why ACT questions are ignored)”

Mainstream media may be checking claims about the Mahuta family – or maybe they hope MPs will raise the matter in Parliament

The latest post by my friend and former colleague, Karl du Fresne, draws attention to the paucity of mainstream media coverage of questions raised about an array of posts filled by members of the Mahuta family and payments made to companies with which family members are associated.

The Platform – for example – recently reported:

More questions are raised after two payments come to light from Ministry for the Environment to companies owned by Nanaia Mahuta’s family members for their roles in expert group

In another article, The Platform said:

Co-governance roles filled by family members of Minister Mahuta amount to the whānau wielding extraordinary influence on the restructuring of New Zealand’s governance.

In response to questions put to her by The Platform, Mahuta’s office has denied she had any conflict of interest over the appointments of members of her family to government roles.

But where are the mainstream media headlines and reports on these matters?  Continue reading “Mainstream media may be checking claims about the Mahuta family – or maybe they hope MPs will raise the matter in Parliament”

Anne Tolley gets it in the neck from riled ACT candidate (and is likened to Marie Antoinette) in Tauranga byelection manoeuvres

The unelected head of Tauranga wants the city’s next MP to push for progress with some infrastructural projects.

We speak of Anne Tolley, the former National Government Minister who chairs the commission which was appointed to govern Tauranga after Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta sacked the democratically elected – but vexingly dysfunctional – city council.

News of the commission’s developmental priorities reached Point of Order via a robustly expressed press statement from the ACT Party’s candidate in the Tauranga byelection, Cameron Luxton..

But the press statement whetted our appetite to delve deeper into the commission’s wishlist – or demands – because Cameron Luxton colourfully reminds us of the fate that befell Marie Antoinette. Continue reading “Anne Tolley gets it in the neck from riled ACT candidate (and is likened to Marie Antoinette) in Tauranga byelection manoeuvres”

A new leader gets a chance of definition with early utterings

So what will the world’s leaders make of Chris Luxon’s first pronouncements?

Given the context, they might be surprised to discover that his conversion therapy reference was not to the alchemic process by which an amiable executive became the leader of one of the western world’s historically most successful political machines.

Does it perhaps signify a liking for political philosopy?

If so, the aversion to conversion is odd.

New Zealand has a rich tradition of nurturing doctrinaire cranks proclaiming the truth: Radiant Livers, communitarians, New Ageists, most socialists.  Liberals mostly enjoy and ignore them – unless they break the law.

So how will Luxon take forward his exegetic reasoning.

Is it based on the need for evidence to confirm the existence of the ‘gay gene’?  Or does he essay down the path of evolutionary selection of culture?

There’s risk and opportunity with the latter, because at times most factions have run that argument.

If you subscribe to cultural Darwinism, you can’t really avoid tackling the hypothesis that homosexuality has an evolutionary purpose (apart from enraging certain old-school conservatives).  Which would give big state supporters a chance to urge its active and compulsory promotion (call this reverse conversion, or perhaps reversion on a grand scale?)  Luxon should be able to take refuge in the causes of small government and non-interference.

But he’ll need to be careful of being overly philosophical in debates over selective abortion based on genetic typology – gay gene or not.

Jacinda Ardern does appear to believe in something (however harmful and divisive some people might think it is).  An early job for Chris Luxon – and not an easy one in the circumstances – will be to show that he is not one of those centre-right politicians who will believe in just about anything.

So clarity on his political philosophy – and on its continuity with the historical traditions of the National party – might actually be pretty important. And it might be useful to keep in mind that line from Yeats’s Second Coming (“The best lack all conviction … “) – still something of a gold standard in troubled times.

Energy markets: the more they change, the more they stay the same

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Which, with baroque variations, is the story from the UK domestic energy market.

As we’ve reported before, the market is suffering from the unfortunate conjunction of soaring input prices and a populist price cap.  As suppliers collapse into the consumer-funded government safety net, the regulator is thrashing around trying to cobble together a fix which might avoid prices rising to their true level too fast, without offending voters or damaging long-term supply.

Continue reading “Energy markets: the more they change, the more they stay the same”

Parliamentary privilege ain’t what it used to be

A cornerstone of parliamentary democracy is the concept of privilege – to protect MPs from external influence by ensuring that their actions can be challenged only in parliament (or at the ballot). If you think that the principle is old-fashioned, ask yourself how Russia’s legislature gets on.

While privilege has never been universal in its scope – in the UK or in its legislative outgrowths – a recent twist raises the eyebrow.

Continue reading “Parliamentary privilege ain’t what it used to be”

Government ‘in control’.  For how long?

The first year of Covid rattled confidence in governments round the globe. The 2021 energy price surge is exposing a swathe of vainglory and folly in policymaking.

Yet looking back over the last fifteen years or so, it seems remarkable how ‘hands on’ government has confounded its critics.  Global financial panic, Eurozone debt crisis, Brexit ructions, Covid pandemic – in each case the gloomsters were largely confounded.  

Worst case scenarios did not materialise. A handful of decisive policy steps and a great deal of ad hoc tinkering have seen living standards, jobs and house prices protected.

Continue reading “Government ‘in control’.  For how long?”

Holding the govt to account takes a curious toll – Nats sink in the polls and Collins rethinks her 2018 views on quitting

The hounds of the parliamentary press gallery are smelling Nat blood.

More particularly, they are smelling the blood of National Party leader Judith Collins, who is reported to be shrugging off talk of a leadership challenge.

Poor polls – she contends – are due to her party holding the Government to account.

Really?

Holding the Government to account explains why a recent opinion poll shows the party’s popularity sinking to just 21 per cent?

We wonder if something might be missing from that analysis and that inadequately holding the government to account might be a factor in the Nats’ poor poll showing and the rise (comparatively) of  ACT and David Seymour. Continue reading “Holding the govt to account takes a curious toll – Nats sink in the polls and Collins rethinks her 2018 views on quitting”