Unlike our leader, Joe Biden is a bloke and he is much older – but another big difference is that he is a Democrat

Point of Order’s attention was drawn to a post on The Standard headed Labour’s Ardern and Democrats’ Biden: Learnings.

Written under the pseudonym Advantage, the article kicks off:

For those fishing around for a progressive playbook in this fractious world, Biden and Ardern are pretty similar. But Biden appears to be turning the fortunes of the Democrats around, but Ardern is currently unrewarded. Is there anything to learn?

The author proceeds to check a few common fields, such as…

COVID 19 Action

Both Biden and Arden administrations successfully mobilised the largest free vaccination programme in the history of either New Zealand or the United States of America. Arguably the recalcitrance of Republican-controlled states and conservative media cost far more lives in the USA than any resistance in New Zealand. The Biden administration effort got over 75% of U.S. citizens fully vaccinated, and the New Zealand response and population-wide effect was even better.

Further comparisons are drawn under topics such as “guns” and “international leadership”.

Then the author looks into big divergences, including

The CHIPS and Science Act

President Biden signed this into law to accelerate semiconductor manufacturing in the United States. The policy focus is on bringing back manufacturing jobs from China to the United States and advance U.S.-led technological leadership. An equivalent for New Zealand would be to target key offshored manufacturing e.g., requiring Icebreaker, Fisher&Paykel Healthcare, Fonterra, and Fletcher Building to bring all their key ingredients and product lines and R&D back into New Zealand rather than being beholden to more fragile Chinese manufacturing and supply lines. One could only imagine the effect if they were required to as Biden has.

Ardern has been remarkably doctrinaire when it comes to industry protection and in-sourcing, and there’s plenty to learn as a very small and very narrow economy to vulnerability to China.

Point of Order looked in vain for something more when “science” was among the considerations.

In the US, the last time we checked, science is science is science.

In this country the Government is pouring millions of dollars into “science” education and projects that incorporate mātauranga Māori, which has a spiritual dimension.

Kiwiblog yesterday posted an article headed ACC funding lunar healing!

This was prompted by a Stuff report which noted:

A new programme designed to help Māori recover faster from injury is being piloted at the University of Auckland.

Kiwiblog’s David Farrar says he hopes the pilot will be independently evaluated.

The Stuff report went on:

Named Ngākau Oho, the university and ACC programme aims to implement rongoā Māori (traditional healing practices) in mainstream healthcare systems in Aotearoa.

Rongoā Māori is the name of a number of traditional Māori healthcare practices and remedies to cure ailments and injuries.

Passed down through generations of whānau and hapū, rongoā Māori involves physical, mental, and spiritual therapy.

Ngākau Oho includes online and in-person wānanga on rongoā Māori, including the use of medicinal native plants, romiromi (body alignment), maramataka (relationships to the lunar calendar) meditation and mahi tinana (body movement).

Farrar wants to know why Māori are being treated as second class citizens who get lunar healing foisted on them, rather than therapy that actually is proven to work?

It is quite possible that certain plants will have medicinal benefits. Meditation and body alignment and movement can be useful also. I have no issue with those.

But to have the Government funding injury recovery based on the lunar calendar is akin to them funding astrology as careers advice.

 But back to The Standard and the article by Advantage.

The final item examined is…

Rescue Plan

All citizens like to think their government has a plan, and the first big one to come out of the Biden administration was simply the American Rescue Plan. This US$1.9 trillion rescue plan paid for the full vaccination programme, family debt relief with mailed cheques to most people, and a new child tax credit that led to the largest-ever one-year decrease in recorded U.S. child poverty.

The Ardern government has been renowned less for its plan for recovery per se than for Ardern’s own daily media briefings. It is s substitute of perpetual visibility for a durable plan. New Zealand’s government expenditure was as a proportion of GDP even greater than that of the United States, but the economic effects have been uneven with unemployment remaining low yet economic growth stagnating.

What hasn’t remained is a sense that the Ardern government is continuing to be guided by a plan, a plan with a visible public shape and direction.

The key differences with Biden’s broad and very bold plans are the focus on costed benefits to citizens, the focus on strong guidance of the whole economy, and translating the legislative and policy wins into fresh political momentum.

Progressives have similarities, but Biden has a performance edge Ardern can learn from.

Here at Point of Order we were bursting to point out a fundamental difference between Biden and Ardern that was not addressed in Advantage’s article.

No, neither the age nor gender of the two leaders.

The big difference is that Biden is a Democrat.

In contrast, Ardern’s Government has been unabashedly undermining our  democracy and she resists efforts to have her declare her position on the basic principle that all citizens should have equal electoral rights.

On her watch, legislation has been passed to ensure some people are given preferential representation on a local authority by being exempted from the need to campaign for electoral support. Instead, they simply  appoint their representatives.

Not one Labour MP expressed misgivings at this anti-democratic arrangement.

Having determined who must be represented on a public authority, regardless of voter support, the Government is working on a process for excluding people, without gauging voter support.

Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti is seeking urgent advice about the conduct of school board elections, after a white supremacist, Philip Arps, announced he is standing for Te Aratai College’s board of trustees in Linwood, Christchurch.

Arps was sentenced to 21 months’ jail for sharing footage of the Christchurch terror attack. Tinetti wants guidance on the scope of a code of conduct that is being developed for school boards. She and her officials are also looking at eligibility.

If a government can distort the electoral process by barring one group of citizens from standing for  office today, it can further distort it by barring other groups it deems unworthy  from standing for office in the future.

Moreover, it is declaring parents unfit to decide for themselves who should sit on the boards that govern  the schools attended by their children.

After the system for electing school boards has been doctored – who will be next?



The PM is an unambiguous champion of all Kiwis having votes of equal weight? Not if the Treaty is tossed in to perplex her

The Prime Minister failed to unambiguously champion the democratic ideal that all citizens should have equal rights as citizens, when she was questioned on Q + A a few weeks ago.

She flunked the test again in Parliament this week.

On Tuesday, ACT leader David Seymour asked:

Does she stand by Minister Willie Jackson’s statement that “‘one person one vote’ is but one value within … [democracy], not the only value.”, and, if so, what does she say to Victoria University professor of political science Jack Vowles, who wrote in reply to Minister Jackson that “everyone having a vote or votes of equal weight to elect those who represent them is not just one value [of democracy], it is a foundational principle. As such, it is recognised in the Bill of Rights”?

Here was an opportunity to assure the public she believes in a liberal democracy of the sort with which Kiwis are familiar.  One person, one vote – that sort of thing.

Jacinda Ardern simply had to acknowledge she agreed with Jack Vowles. Continue reading “The PM is an unambiguous champion of all Kiwis having votes of equal weight? Not if the Treaty is tossed in to perplex her”

Professor Elizabeth Rata – In defence of democracy

PROFESSOR ELIZABETH RATA gave this address – ‘In Defence of Democracy’ – to the New Zealand ACT Party Annual Conference, in Wellington and Auckland, last month. Although the address was given at a political party event, she says she was a guest speaker and the ideas she presents are her own.

Professor Rata is a sociologist of education in the School of Critical Studies, Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Auckland where she is Director of the Knowledge in Education Research Unit (KERU).  Her main research areas are in knowledge in the curriculum, knowledge politics, ethnic revivalism, Māori education, research methods, and the history of New Zealand education.


Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me to speak today.

My talk ‘In Defence of Democracy’ is for those of all political persuasions who are deeply worried about New Zealand’s descent from democracy into a tribal form of ethno-nationalism.

I want to talk about democracy – about what it is we are in danger of losing and what we need to do to retain our nation’s remarkable 170 year legacy of democratic governance.

Nearly forty years ago the 1985 Treaty of Waitangi Amendment Act set in motion a radical constitutional agenda. The aim –  to shift the country from democracy to tribalism. In that time a corporate tribal elite has privatised public resources, acquired political power, and attained governance entitlements. Activist judges have created treatyism – a new interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi as a ‘governance partnership’. Intellectuals have supplied the supporting racialised ‘two world views’ ideology. Continue reading “Professor Elizabeth Rata – In defence of democracy”

The PM is telling us power resides in the ownership of water assets, so we shouldn’t fret about how much muscle Maori can flex

It sounded curiously like something out of a Marxist textbook – the notion that power sits with ownership.  

The relationship between ownership and power – it seems – should be more important to us than the issue of representation in the country’s democratic institutions or the concept of one person, one vote. 

The Prime Minister might try explaining her ideas to the good people of Canterbury, after her government’s MPs enthusiastically voted in support of legislation which ends equality of suffrage in procedures for electing councillors to the Canterbury Regional Council.  All residents will get to vote for the elected councillors (so far, so good), but residents who belong to the Ngai Tahu tribe get two more councillors, appointed by tribal leaders, for reasons that boil down to ancestry.

Labour MP Rino Tirikatene, speaking during the third reading debate, said the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngai Tahu Representation) Amendment Bill was

“… about the evolution of our treaty partnership and representation of Māori, of iwi at the local government level”.

These are ominous words, portending the bill will serve as a model for other Māori tribes in their push for the so-called “Treaty partnership” to be given tangible expression in all forms of government.

Next on the Government’s agenda – aiming for 50 per cent Māori/50 per cent Crown representation – is the government’s plan to have all local authority water assets come under the administration and management of four new structures under the Three Waters programme.

Continue reading “The PM is telling us power resides in the ownership of water assets, so we shouldn’t fret about how much muscle Maori can flex”

Ngai Tahu are given governance privileges in Canterbury and Willie Jackson gives us a rundown on “the new democracy”

Concerns about the constitutional implications of the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill were overwhelmed by a tsunami of Labour hubris and ballyhoo in Parliament yesterday.  The weight of numbers against upholding liberal democratic values  in the governance of our local authorities resulted in the Bill being supported by 77 votes (Labour 65; Green Party 10;  Māori Party 2) to 43 (National 33; ACT 10).

And so – because a highly contentious interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi has been deemed to over-ride the notion that all citizens should have equal rights – one group of people in Canterbury will be spared the need to campaign for electoral support and can simply appoint representatives to two permanent seats on the Canterbury Regional Council.

As National’s Paul Goldsmith explained during the debate, the legislation allows for 14 councillors in Canterbury to be elected by everyone in the community, including Māori.  And then, after those 14 councillors are elected, Ngāi Tahu will appoint two more.

“So, this is not a question of Māori wards in Canterbury, proportional to the population and democratically elected. It is about the appointments of two councillors on top of what has been a one person, one vote election.” Continue reading “Ngai Tahu are given governance privileges in Canterbury and Willie Jackson gives us a rundown on “the new democracy””

Democracy, the Treaty and the coup that is embedding tribal rule into our regulatory and legislative framework

By Muriel Newman

Finally, the mainstream media is reporting that a coup is under way in New Zealand – by the Māori tribal elite.

Admittedly that observation was penned by former Labour Minister and ACT Party leader Richard Prebble in an opinion piece for the Herald – but the newspaper published it and Radio NZ reported it.

The on-line Herald headline read “Three Waters is a coup — an attack on democracy”.

That bold and compelling headline, however, didn’t last. It was changed to remove the words “a coup” and now reads: “Three Waters is an attack on democracy”.

The obvious question is why?

A clue comes from an article written last year by political journalist Andrea Vance, about Jacinda Ardern’s PR machine:

The Government’s iron grip on the control of information has tightened. At every level, the Government manipulates the flow of information.”

She then explained,

“And the prime minister’s office makes sure its audience is captured, starting the week and cementing the agenda with a conference call with political editors.”

So, did a member of the Prime Minister’s Office contact the Herald and ask them to change the headline? Continue reading “Democracy, the Treaty and the coup that is embedding tribal rule into our regulatory and legislative framework”

Transparency under Ardern – party submissions on donations are kept secret and Taxpayers’ Union is banned from LGNZ conference

Yet again we are being reminded that from the moment she took office in 2017, Jacinda Ardern made a promise she would not keep – she promised her government would be the most open and transparent New Zealand has seen.

In her first formal speech to Parliament she pledged:

“This government will foster a more open and democratic society. It will strengthen transparency around official information.”

A visit to Kiwiblog today draws attention to the latest breach of Ardern’s commitment.

Political parties’ submissions on donation law reform are being kept secret.

The very next Kiwiblog post takes us from bad to worse.  It tells of Local Government New Zealand’s annual conference being closed to an organisation which represents taxpayers because LGNZ poobahs disapprove of their opinions.

We imagine no such ban applies to the mainstream media, now that they have become reliant on state subsidies and have committed themselves to promote the Ardern Government’s highly contentious interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi. Continue reading “Transparency under Ardern – party submissions on donations are kept secret and Taxpayers’ Union is banned from LGNZ conference”

Govt gives each council another $350,000 (of our money) to get Three Waters flowing – and win their support for its coup

Buzz from the Beehive

Three Waters reforms – the subject of widespread disquiet around the country – was among the issues tackled by Ministers with new initiatives over the past 24 hours.

So too was the vexed issue of housing.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being pumped into both problems. Or should that be “challenges”?

Housing Minister Megan Woods announced that not-for-profit groups looking to develop new rental homes for households on lower incomes that stay affordable over the long-term can apply for the first tranche of funding available from the $350 million Affordable Housing Fund announced in Budget 2022.

The first $50 million of this fund is devoted to rental developments for lower-income people who cannot afford a market rent but can’t access public housing, she explained. Continue reading “Govt gives each council another $350,000 (of our money) to get Three Waters flowing – and win their support for its coup”

PM condemns disinformation and upholds democracy in speech in Madrid – now let’s see what happens back in NZ

Buzz from the Beehive

Legislation to tighten things, legislation to relax things and a speech which reminds us of threats to our democracy – from the PM, we are delighted to note – feature in the latest posts on the Beehive website.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark has had a busy day, announcing two lots of legislation.

  • Legislation that bans major supermarkets from blocking their competitors’ access to land to set up new stores, to pave the way for greater competition in the sector, is the first in a suite of measures after a Commerce Commission investigation found competition in the retail grocery sector is not working.  The Commerce (Grocery Sector Covenants) Amendment Bill amends the Commerce Act 1986, banning restrictive covenants on land, and exclusive covenants on leases. It also makes existing covenants unenforceable and enhances the Commission’s information-gathering powers.
  • The Financial Markets (Conduct of Institutions) Amendment Bill, which has passed its third reading, will establish a new financial conduct scheme that ensures financial institutions put customers before profits.  This follows reviews by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Financial Markets Authority which found banks and insurers in New Zealand lack focus on good customer outcomes, and have insufficient systems and controls to identify, manage and remedy conduct issues. The FMA will work with financial institutions to ensure they are prepared for the new regime, and licensing applications are expected to open in mid-2023. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will develop supporting regulations. The regime is expected to come fully into force in early 2025.

Continue reading “PM condemns disinformation and upholds democracy in speech in Madrid – now let’s see what happens back in NZ”