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”

Who said Shane Jones was all washed-up? Three Waters (and co-governance) have flushed him back into politicking

Shane  Jones — remember  him?- — has  re-emerged  into public life and thrown a  hand grenade  at  the  Labour  government on  its  Three Waters  policy.  He  has  done  so  in  a  think-piece    for  the  op-ed  page  in  the  NZ  Herald  at a  time  when the  Ardern  government thought  it  had  recaptured  the  high ground  in  the nation’s politics, with  its  measures  to  take  the sting   out  of  inflation.

But  Jones’ intervention has  widened   the  battleground.

The  implications, separately,  are  interesting.  Does it  foreshadow  Jones, a  close ally  of  NZ  First  leader Winston Peters,  stepping  back  into  politics?  Could  it  be that  Jones  senses  that here is  the  issue   that could revive  NZ First  from  its  moribund  state?

Of  course, Jones  may  have  compiled  his explosive  piece  on  his  own initiative,  but  as  a  minister  in  the  Labour-NZ  First coalition  from 2017 to 2020,  he   and Winston Peters   always  worked  very  closely  together.  It  was  as if  they  were  soul-mates:   each  had the  gift  of  hitting   a  political nerve.

This  is  the  one  Jones played   on  in   his  NZ  Herald  article: Continue reading “Who said Shane Jones was all washed-up? Three Waters (and co-governance) have flushed him back into politicking”

The dismantling of free-market reforms – how Ardern is taking us back to the days when state monopolies limited our choices

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The Ardern government is weakening many of the pillars of the free market reforms implemented in the 1980s and 1990s, including undermining the Reserve Bank and Fiscal Responsibility Acts.

 More alarming is its failure to learn that bestowing privileges on a few results in enormous costs for the many.

So says Nicholas Kerr, son of the late Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr.

A marketing consultant in Dallas, Texas, Nicholas Kerr delivered a  speech last month to the Dallas chapter of the Bastiat Society, an organisation established by the American Institute for Economic Research as a forum for business professionals to help advance peaceful trade and human flourishing.   

The speech (the full version can be read here) was headed Unleashing New Zealand’s Potential and Suppressing Washington State’s — Lessons for Texas.

Here’s an edited version: –  

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While the New Zealand I grew up in during the 1970s and early 1980s was idyllic for most children, its citizens had long been experiencing declining relative living standards.  In the 30 years prior to 1982, New Zealand’s rank in the per capita gross domestic product league table fell from third to 32nd.

Government owned all manner of things, including but not limited to, one of the largest hotel chains in the country; a shipping company; both television channels (New Zealand only had two until 1989); many radio stations; most hospitals; major banks; a steel mill and a printing company; all the country’s airports, ports, universities and coalmines; half the country’s forests; and, the only telecommunications, electricity, airline, and rail companies. Continue reading “The dismantling of free-market reforms – how Ardern is taking us back to the days when state monopolies limited our choices”

Climate could provide Peters and his party with a platform for warming voters and bouncing back at the next election

Peters  is   back,  the  headlines  shouted.

Well,  not  quite.  Winston Peters  may  have  stepped  into  the political  limelight  again, after  a  spell  in political  darkness – but he  and  his  party  are a  long  way  from  Parliament.   And  even  though  he  looks  fit  and  well,   can he – at the age of 76 –  find  the  spark  which  will fire  up  the  NZ  First  engine  again?

His  disciple,  Shane Jones,  is  firmly  convinced  he  can.  Furthermore, Jones believes the  party can forge a  new  crusade  out  of  the  “perfidy”  of  what  the Climate  Change  Commission is  doing  to  NZ.

Jones   sees  the  commissioners  as  “ideological  termites”,  who  hold  sway  over  the  government  with  “mad  ideas”  of the sort that could  required us all as if we  are  all  going to  ride  bikes

Jones  cites the  example  of 10,000 bikers in  Birkenhead  exerting  their power  on the  government  to build a bridge  for them over  the Auckland  harbour.

Continue reading “Climate could provide Peters and his party with a platform for warming voters and bouncing back at the next election”

Polls portend the toppling of Peters and his extraordinary political career – replacing him in Foreign Affairs won’t be easy

Will  we  miss him  when  he is  gone?

Love him  or  loathe  him,  Winston  Peters   is  one   of the  extraordinary  characters  on the  NZ  political  stage.  Through  his  remarkable  career,   he  has  registered   the  highs — and  lows — of  politics.

But  now  after  his  latest stint  as  Deputy Prime Minister  and  Foreign  Minister, the latest opinion polling show he is  facing political  oblivion.  NZ  First’s support  has shrunk to  just 1%.

This  perhaps  comes  as  no  surprise    after   the  financial  shenanigans  involving    the  NZ  First  Foundation,  despite  Peters   asserting  the  party  and  MPs   have been  “exonerated”.

 The  Serious  Fraud  Office  announced  last week  that two  people  are  being charged  after  a  probe  into  the  foundation.

The   SFO investigation discovered  credible  evidence   of   criminal  wrongdoing   at  the foundation,  which has  no other purpose  than to  serve  the  NZ  First  Party.

No matter how  Peters rails  against  the  SFO,  the  hard  truth  is that one of the  country’s  major  law  enforcement  agencies  is charging  two  people  with  connections  to the  NZ  First  Party, even if  they  are  not current members  of it. Continue reading “Polls portend the toppling of Peters and his extraordinary political career – replacing him in Foreign Affairs won’t be easy”

When you sing Happy Birthday while washing your hands on April 11 – think of Winston

How  quickly   the political  landscape  can change.  A   month ago,  Deputy  PM  Winston Peters,  along with  PM  Jacinda  Ardern,   was  deep into  a  trans-Tasman  sledging   match   after  Ardern  attacked Australia’s hardline  deportation.

But   as  the  coronavirus  crisis broadened, it  was  Peters  on the line to  Canberra  seeking  Australia’s  assistance in  repatriating  stranded  New Zealanders in places as far  apart as  Nepal  and  Peru.

Whether    Peters   offered an  apology for his  earlier  megaphone diplomacy is  not  known  (we suspect  not).  He  thought he was  on a winner  back then  in  March  (the coronavirus pandemic  at that  time was being glossed over lightly by the government )  as he  gave   the Scott Morrison government a verbal  towelling.  He told  the ABC  it was a bit rich for Australia to be shipping its unwanted people to NZ when an Australian has been charged over the deaths of 51 people in the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Did we make a song and dance about Australia about that? It was the worst tragedy we’ve ever had – 51 people lost their lives – scores and scores were damaged forever.  Far worse than Port Arthur, and nobody in my country sought to abuse Australia about that, that’s my point … and we want a thing called respect.” Continue reading “When you sing Happy Birthday while washing your hands on April 11 – think of Winston”

Questions are raised by RNZ report about a forestry company, the PGF and a meeting with Shane Jones

So when did Shane Jones first learn about NZ Future Forest Products’ bid for a $15 million government loan from the Provincial Growth Fund.?

According to a Radio NZ report today, when NZFFP applied for PGF on 8 April, 2019, the company was asked whether the project had been “previously discussed” with the government.

The application form shows NZFFP ticked the ‘yes’ box and said it had made a “presentation to the Minister” about its forestry and wood processing plans “including descriptions of the applicant”.

Jones, a New Zealand First MP who is forestry minister and the minister responsible for the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund, has consistently claimed he first heard about the NZFFP bid on 14 October last year.

The forestry company is described as having close links to New Zealand First.

NZFFP’s directors include

  • Brian Henry, lawyer to New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters, judicial officer of the party and one of two trustees of the New Zealand First Foundation, and
  • NZ First leader Winston Peters’ partner Jan Trotman, who joined the company in August 2019.

Continue reading “Questions are raised by RNZ report about a forestry company, the PGF and a meeting with Shane Jones”

The PM dances on a pin about funding furore – but she can’t waltz away from the question of her govt’s integrity

Are  ministers  in   Jacinda  Ardern’s  coalition   beginning  to  live  in  a  dreamworld  of their  own,  distant  from  the  one  where ordinary  New Zealanders  live?

In Parliament, in answer to patsy questions from their own  backbenchers, they  congratulate   themselves  on  their  extraordinary  ( as it  seems to them)  achievements. They  appear  supremely  unconscious  of or oblivious to the  world  most  New Zealanders inhabit.  And this week   they were   doing  their best  to  ignore   the   raging  furnace  torching  NZ  First.

It’s  possible  they were  yawning because  they had  heard it  all before.

But other  NZers found  the allegations  of  financial shenanigans inside  the structure of  NZ  First disturbing.

Stuff reports  the  NZ  First Foundation received 26 donations of $325,900 in just a five month period, adding:

Donors to the foundation include food manufacturers, racing interests, forestry owners and wealthy property developers.”    Continue reading “The PM dances on a pin about funding furore – but she can’t waltz away from the question of her govt’s integrity”

Brexit and the popular vote – a lesson in folly that should steer NZ First away from facile referenda

Veteran journalist David Barber, a champion of  voluntary euthanasia, and Ken Orr, spokesman for Right to Life, have found common ground.  Both agree that our elected politicians should not be passing the buck on the End of Life Choice Bill to a referendum.

They question the need for a binding referendum being held at the 2020 general election, if the contentious End of Life Choice Bill is passed at its third reading on November 13.  This is the consequence of the nine MPs of NZ First pledging to support the third reading of the bill on the condition that Parliament votes to support its supplementary order paper requiring such a referendum.

But the Brexit shambles in Britain provides ample evidence that a referendum can undermine a democracy rather than buttress or strengthen it.

The shambles is the subject of an article, headed Brexit is putting parliamentary democracy in question, recently published by the European Council on Foreign Relations, an international think-tank.  

It begins:

“Brexit may well become a textbook example of the damage that a referendum can wreak on parliamentary democracy.” Continue reading “Brexit and the popular vote – a lesson in folly that should steer NZ First away from facile referenda”

An important conference for NZ First as it braces for the prospect of a painful year ahead

Expect  the  old  campaigner Winston  Peters to be at  his belligerent  best as he   gears  up for another election.  He’s kept his party alive for 27 years  and  he  shows  no sign  of quitting.

The  omens  may be  bleak—polls  this week  showed  his party below  the  5% threshold– but  Peters  insists   NZ  First’s  own polling puts the party  “comfortably  in the  zone”  to do well.  He told   Radio NZ the  party   is getting  “enormous  support” in the provinces  and  he’ll use  the   conference  to  outline a winning  strategy.

As  for  those  political commentators  who say NZ  First  won’t make it back  into Parliament,  they are   “moronic”.

Yet  even  when  Peters  fires   up,  as  he  did  in  that interview,  the  odds   are stacking up against  NZ  First.    He  can brush off the polls, dismiss  leaks of  sensitive party documents  pointing to questionable  internal administrative issues,  and  assert   his  party  is  key to  the  coalition’s   success: yet  NZ First inevitably  will cop  some of the blame generated by adverse headlines  as in  the  NZ  Herald  on  Thursday – “Dire Shortfall in  State Housing”. Continue reading “An important conference for NZ First as it braces for the prospect of a painful year ahead”