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Posts Tagged ‘New Zealand

THE HERMIT KINGDOM

I see that nice Mr Hipkins has taken umbrage at John Key’s descriptive of New Zealand as a smug Hermit kingdom. For myself I think Key’s analogy liking the country to North Korea is somewhat apt.

The only difference that I can see is North Korea’s refusal to acknowledge the existence of Covid in their country. Ardern’s restrictions on travel could have just as easily be written by Pyongyang.

One can understand Hipkin’s sensitivity.

Written by The Veteran

September 26, 2021 at 1:05 pm

Not Subservient

An interesting little New Zealand documentary I came across the other day is Wahine Warrior.

It’s about a woman, Pania Tepaiho-Marsh, who has taught herself how to hunt and is now teaching others, focusing on women who are desperate to escape their circumstances of being trapped on Welfare and in abusive relationships.

Watching the reactions of the woman as they learn to shoot and hunt is just great. It’s only 8 minutes long and worth every second.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 2, 2020 at 6:31 pm

Gumbies or Kittens? You Choose!

My PhotoReaders of this blog will likely know or suspect that I’m not particularly excited at the prospect of a National-led government after this year’s election.

However, there’s no denying that the current Labour-led government has got all sorts of big problems to deal with, almost all of their own creation, and with almost a zero track record on implementing their ideas – for which I am grateful. The last thing we need is a competent Socialist government like that of Peter Fraser’s.

This has been the government of “NO” – which works well with banning things and telling everybody to stay home for a few weeks under pain of arrest and prosecution.

Saying “YES” to things is a different matter. Building or creating stuff that will last – stuff more substantial than yet another government Department or Ministry – is much tougher to do, especially when government is already such a big part of our society.

As such I figured that it would be better to have a comedic analysis of our situation, and of the following two comedy items, I can’t decide which is the better take on our current government and politics.

So readers are invited to listen and watch, and then make a choice. Please try not to let the cuteness of the second item influence your choice.

First up is an audio-only version of Monty Python’s effort to perform Chekhov’s famous play, The Cherry Orchard, using the Gumby Players. I’m reminded of this every time I read something about the latest adventures of Cabinet Ministers Twyford and Clark.

The second is video of kittens having fun with a $2 thrift-shop purchase of a WrestleMania toy. Bonus points for choosing which parties they represent: my choice is that the two light-coloured ones are Labour and National, while the red-headed step-child is the Green Party.

**NOTE: You have to click the link “watch this video on YouTube” as the owner has disabled it playing on other sites.

 

Written by Tom Hunter

June 26, 2020 at 12:00 am

Winter is here

Winter is coming?

No! Winter is here, and in more ways than one.

From Stats NZ today:

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell 1.6 percent in the March 2020 quarter, the largest drop in 29 years, as the initial effects of COVID-19 restrictions impacted on economic activity, Stats NZ said today.

Breaking it down by sector:

  • Agriculture -1.9%
  • Mining +4.3%
  • Manufacturing -2.4%
  • Construction -4.1%
  • Retail Trade/Accom -2.2%
  • Transport -5.2%

And remember that this is a quarter almost entirely not under lockdown; only six days under Level 4 and two under Level 3.

What the hell is the GDP figure going to be like for the June quarter?

 

And this is where Visible Death vs Invisible Death is going to come into play – and for years to come.

The impact of making us poorer:

In other words, if real per capita GDP in New Zealand falls by ten percent due to the lockdown and other effects associated with Covid-19, life expectancy would be predicted to fall by 1.4 years.

That’s the equivalent of 8,750 dead people.

And as I pointed out in that article that’s before we look at the deaths that will arise in the short-term because of the impact of healthcare delayed or missed due to the lockdown, which has happened in every other country so must be happening here as well:

Matt Hancock, the [British] health secretary, refuses to give a figure for the potential non-Covid fatalities from this catastrophe but the cabinet was told it could be up to 150,000 avoidable deaths.

At least the British government asked the question of their public health experts.

Oh – and Australia’s 1st quarter GDP drop was just 0.3%.

Readers should also take a look at this article written by Alex Davis at The Emperor’s Robes, Both of New Zealand’s Post Covid19 Futures are Bad, where he looks at two futures:

Future 1: Covid19 is not eliminated and breaks out or returns

Future 2: New Zealand eliminates Covid19 and becomes a South Pacific Prison for its Citizens

 

From that second future:

Whatever hope we may have to eradicate Covid19 in New Zealand one thing is certain – it will not be eliminated from the rest of the world. So, what then? New Zealand is confronted with a lose:lose scenario. We can lower the draw bridge and let the world back in but if we do so it is highly likely we will reimport Covid19

it is highly likely someone, somewhere will slip through.

That was written on June 4, but it actually was not a hard prediction to make. Alex wraps up the detailed piece with his own pick for out future:

Eventually however whoever is in power in New Zealand will have to accept the inevitable: they will *have to* re-open the borders and watch Covid19 do what it has done everywhere else: slightly shorten the long lives of a small number of already very sick old people. Their deaths will be tragic and very public (unlike those for example of cancer sufferers whose treatment was delayed by lock down). The ship of New Zealand will come to rest exactly where it would have otherwise, Covid19 will be among us causing little harm to all but a handful, but we will be vastly indebted, causing harm to many.

One final point is that this is also another example of how crap New Zealand is at collecting and processing statistics compared to other OECD nations. It’s been two-and-a-half months since the end of the March quarter, so that means we’re not likely to see the June quarter stats until mid-September, for which the government will be grateful with the election on September 19.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 18, 2020 at 1:25 am

INCONVENIENT QUESTION

Are we entitled to ask why is the Gummit so focused on opening the border with Oz where there are continuing numbers of  Covit-19 infections (and, by extension, Israel FFS) while Samoa and the Cook Islands (no infections ever), countries with whom we supposedly enjoy a special relationship and who are totally dependent on tourism, remain off the table.

So much for looking after our own.

Just askin.

Written by The Veteran

May 31, 2020 at 7:54 am

History never repeats?

Oh yes it bloody well does, and with more than rhyming Mr Twain.

In The Vet’s post the other day, What Has Louisa Wall Done To Offend?, he made the point that her being challenged for her seat from within the Labour Party was a mystery given that she ticks so many boxes for them: Maori, Female, Lesbian, smart, high achiever in sport, academia and now politics…

Amidst much discussion some points were made about Chris Trotter’s constant raging against the Identity Politics Warriors like Wall messing up his beloved Class Warfare purity that he thinks Labour should return to. I was reminded of a piece of satire that Danyl McLauchlan wrote a few years ago on his old blog, The DimPost. Once he started writing serious stuff for places like The Spinoff he made his blog private, but thanks to The Wayback Machine, a commentator’s suggestion, and more searching than I usually care to do, I found it: Chris Trotter on Party Central (2010):

So “Party Central” is no longer central to the party that is central to the party at the centre of our party politics. 

Am I the only Kiwi who experiences tightness in my jaw and a numb feeling in my left-arm when I contemplate the disarray that has befallen Auckland governance?

we have all supped from the golden poison chalice of satanic robot run regional and local government only to find ourselves regaining conciousness yet again in our neighbour’s toolshed with our clothes drenched in urine.
 

Danyl really should try satire again, although it may be that he can find no one to pay for it. But it was the next section that I remembered the best:

It was the radical right-wing feminist government of William Massey that spread open the labile pink floodgates of change and swept away the egalitarian order in a wave of capitalist frenzy, separatist Maori entitlement and so-called-women who threaten to press charges because that is what their liberal puppetmasters at our elitist universities have brainwashed them to do. 

Like most real New Zealanders I yearn for the days when our great little country was ruled by stocky, moustached trade-unionists but I fear that those days are gone forever, swept away by a great wave that swept everything away like a wave.

During my history search I found a 2014 article by Trotter advocating pretty much the treatment that Wall is getting, Labour’s Caucus Still In Charge, where he admiringly quotes Matt McCarten from 1988:

“So we should call a special conference of the party and expel them … The Labour Party made a mistake selecting these people so sack them. Throw them out and let them stand against us. They’ll lose and the Labour Party can rebuild itself.”

To be fair, Chris appears to now be in total thrall to “the labile pink floodgates of change“. Funny how  winning elections and obtaining a measure of power can do that.

Speaking of which, during my search I also found an old comment of mine from Kiwiblog in 2011, in a thread which dealt with us losing people to a more successful Australia and DPF’s lament that we need to boost productivity and lift wages.

Shorter message: Vote for us because we suck less than the other guys.

Actually that’s the entire National message as NZ slowly reverses into the 21st century. And it’s an effective one as they undoubtedly know; the smug, cynical response being who else are you going to vote for? 

And they’re correct.

As far as the media coverage is concerned I say to all lefties, welcome to our world circa 2000-2005. The shallow, pathetic coverage of stories combined with gushing over various aspects of [PM Key] is really very little different than in Clark’s time. Sure, there are the blogs but they aren’t there yet in supporting a narrative the way the old MSM still can. 

But don’t worry. National and Key will tire sooner or later, Labour will find some “new” material as candidates and even a fresh leader, the pendulum will swing and you will find yourselves benefiting from exactly the same uselessness of media coverage. 

Yeah. History repeats all right.
 

Written by Tom Hunter

May 26, 2020 at 12:00 pm

NZ Labour’s Colonel Cargill

I was amused to see this news yesterday from Stuff via Kiwiblog, Light rail follows Kiwibuild into oblivion:

The Government’s flagship infrastructure project has been put “on hold” while it fights the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are some doubts it will ever get going again.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said decisions on Auckland’s light rail project “are on hold while the Government’s full focus is on fighting Covid-19”.

During the election campaign, Labour had promised to have the first stage of the Auckland light rail scheme built by 2021.

But after a long and protracted process, the Government has yet to decide who will build the scheme, let alone begin construction.

As David Farrar points out:

It’s worse than that. They haven’t even decided a route. We’re well over halfway to their promise of having built 13 kms by December 2021…

Auckland Light Rail and Kiwibuild eh? And the common factor is Phil Twyford. It immediately reminded me of the character of Colonel Cargill from the novel Catch 22, who was very successful in business before being drafted into the USAAF:

Before the war, he had been an alert, hard-hitting, aggressive marketing executive. 

He was a very bad marketing executive. Colonel Cargill was so bad a marketing executive that his services were much sought after by firms eager to establish losses for tax purposes.

Throughout the civilized world, from Battery Park to Fulton Street, he was known as a dependable man for a fast tax write-off. His prices were high, for failure often did not come easily. He had to start at the top and work himself down, and with sympathetic friends in Washington, losing money was no simple matter.

It took months of hard work and careful misplanning. A person misplaced, disorganized, miscalculated, overlooked everything and opened every loophole, and just when he thought he had it made, the government gave him a lake or a forest or an oilfield and spoiled everything.

Even with such handicaps, Colonel Cargill could be relied on to run the most prosperous enterprise into the ground. He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.

Perhaps Twyford has a future in the private sector after all.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 15, 2020 at 12:25 pm

A billion here, a billion there…

All I have to say about the NZ budget released yesterday is expressed by this famous quote from Everett Dirksen, who was the Republican Senator for Illinois from 1951 to 1969.

Supposedly this was invented by a reporter from partial quotes by Dirksen, but he liked it so much that he never bothered correcting it.

 
And on this note, here are two stories out of Auckland.
 
First up is the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance story on their inaugural Auckland Town Hall Rich List. You can click on the link to see the names and faces of all the executives earning more than $250,000 per annum. There are 86 staff at the Council and CCOs earning more than a Minister of the Crown:
 
  • Six earning $500,000 or more
  • Three earning $400,000 to $500,000
  • 39 earning $300,000 to $400,000
  • 38 earning $250,000 to $300,000
And of course this does not take account of the many more who are earning less than $250k per annum but more than $100k. I doubt these people have been or will be affected negatively in any way by the catastrophe of the last two months.
 

…the City Rail Link (CRL) – which will give ten thousand commuters to the city’s central business district a somewhat faster journey to work.

Those faster journeys were estimated to be worth (on a present value basis) about $2 billion, and the construction cost was originally estimated (guessed, really) to be about $2 billion. Then, last April, with $700 million spent and not a lot to show for it, the cost envelope was revised to $4.4 billion, with no guaranteed finish date.

Just another rail project actually. They’re almost all like that. But the fallacy of sunk costs will now become the main driver, with ever more fantastical benefits calculated into a future of 20 or 40 years from now, based on population growth rates for the city that will be based on immigration flows that were not even politically and socially sustainable before the Wuhan Flu. Comparisons will be made with the great city train systems of the past in New York and London, not recognising that they were built because they made economic sense then. Even in New York before the pandemic, city officials were wondering where they were going to get the money to upgrade the whole system, since it’s not paying for itself.

The costs of the rail tunnel are supposed to be shared 50:50 between Auckland ratepayers and NZ taxpayers. I have calculated that a person in my financial situation – for example, me – will have to cough up much more than $10,000 in rates and taxes to meet my share of the bill. I can think of heaps of better uses for my money.

Look for much more like this to come. And also look for Auckland to ask the government to write off a substantial portion of this debt in future years. It’ll be unfair to the rest of the nation but Auckland is where the Parliamentary numbers are. And hey – we’re a team of five million, right?
 

Written by Tom Hunter

May 14, 2020 at 11:00 pm

Our Bill of Rights is a joke

My Photo

Before the Public Health Response Bill was made law, various government departments took a look at it from various angles, and the Ministry of Health’s take on it was not just about its effectiveness (or not), but in regard to where it sat against the New Zealand Bill of Rights (BOR).
The Health chappies concluded that it ‘appears to be consistent’ with the Bill of Rights Act.

We have considered whether the COVID-19 Public Health Response Bill (‘the Bill’) is consistent with the rights and freedoms affirmed in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (‘the Bill of Rights Act’).

We have not yet received a final version of the Bill. This advice has been prepared in relation to the latest version of the Bill (PCO 22923/4.2). We will provide you with further advice if the final version includes amendments that affect the conclusions in this advice.

We have concluded that the Bill appears to be consistent with the rights and freedoms affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act.

Considering that they would naturally have had a large hand in crafting the Bill this could hardly be a surprise. The reason audits are carried out by independent agencies is precisely because any institution, even with the best will in the world, cannot audit itself with any degree of confidence.
You can read the thing itself here, but a brief synopsis of the powers it grants the State and its paramilitary wing, the NZ Police Force, is as follows:
  • Enter homes, Maraes, land, building, craft, vehicle, place, or… “thing”… with no warrant.
  • You will be legally required to do whatever they insist you do.
  • Close roads and public places.
  • Stop vehicles.
  • Demand identification of anyone. Which includes: full name, full address, date of birth, occupation, telephone number, or any of those particulars.
  • Demand closure of any businesses and “undertakings”.
The bill also solves that pesky little problem of there being not enough Police to do all this, by empowering “enforcement officers” to able to do it.

The Director-General may authorise a suitably qualified and trained person who is not an employee of the Ministry of Health, or a class of suitably qualified and trained persons who are not employees of the Ministry of Health, to carry out any functions and powers of an enforcement officer under this Act.

I always love it when government departments cover their butts with language like “suitably qualified and trained“. Given the clash between the need for rapid deployment of such people in a pandemic and the fact they won’t be just waiting around in sufficient numbers you can bet that “training” will amount to brief set of instructions in an office before they hit the streets.

That will probably also mitigate the unemployment numbers we’ll soon be seeing. Young men will be especially excited to join, especially if they get a baton, taser and really cool, spiffy uniforms.

Something in black with red highlights I would think. With leather boots too.
====================================
Even so, I was more interested in how all this could be given the thumbs up against the New Zealand Bill of Rights, not just by Health but by other parts of the government. To my complete lack of surprise it passed their rules of consistency-thumb as well.
This is the usual nonsense you get when nations simply pass bits of paper into law and call them things like Constitutions and Bills of Rights but then honour them more in the breach than in the observance.

Every Communist nation had stuff like that, filled with more “rights” than anything in the West, a fact the Communists and their useful idiots in the West proudly boasted about. But in reality it was all worthless. The rights in those BOR’s were breached regularly and with no consequences.

Same here in New Zealand. And that’s not because of the cynicism of our political leaders, although there may be some of that.
No, it comes from the simple fact that for things like this to work they have to be buried in the psyche of the people of the nation. That it becomes something we know more than just intellectually; that we know such rights instinctively in our hearts and souls and that we’ve seen the consequences for those who have tried to breach our rights.

The American population has such rights seemingly in their bones because they’ve had a Bill of Rights embedded in the foundation of their country over two hundred years ago, but even there it gets breached often, usually in small ways, but sometimes in large ways, as now with the differing lockdowns in various US States that are being challenged in courts and on the streets.
That sort of constant vigilance is required from the American people themselves to make their rights meaningful, with cases in courts and Police and other law enforcement authorities, and even occasionally their political masters, held accountable in meaningful ways. Meaningful in terms of firings, resignations, fines or even jail time. Not to mention a solid amount of public shaming.

Here in NZ we simply have not had enough time pass – just thirty years  – for our Bill of Rights to become as meaningful and as embedded. And the more situations like this Public Health Bill that we have, the less meaning our Bill of Rights will have. People will just shrug their shoulders and say that it is the supremacy of Parliament that counts, just as it always did.
With time the New Zealand Bill of Rights might amount to something more than what it is now, but as this farce has demonstrated, it’s well on its way to becoming as much of a joke as the old Soviet one..

Written by Tom Hunter

May 14, 2020 at 3:48 am

Die MSM, Die – I’d buy that for a dollar!

Actually I would buy Stuff for $1.00 – but only for the pleasure of firing Alison Mau. In fact I might pay more for that experience.

It really is true that in every crisis there is always a silver lining. And with this news, it’s a big, bright silver ring of light:

Stuff’s Australian owner says it terminated talks with New Zealand media company NZME last week. 

NZME, owner of the New Zealand Herald and Newstalk ZB, said in a statement to the NZX on Monday morning that it was seeking urgent legislation to allow it to buy rival publisher Stuff “for $1″by the end of May.

One dollar? $NZ 1.00? That’s less than Newsweek was sold for a few years ago, which was $US 1.00.

This comes on top of the withdrawal from new Zealand of German media group Bauer Media several weeks ago, which decision destroyed long-lived magazines like The Listener and the NZ Woman’s Weekly.

Awwwww…! Where will we Righties get our weekly, local TDS from now, plus our glossy fix of Kate and Meghan and Jacinda and Neve and Gaylord?

The NZ Herald of course – and TVNZ, RNZ, TV3 and so forth.

I did have to laugh at DPF’s take on this over on Kiwiblog:

The idea of the Government passing a special law to allow the two main print media companies to merge is abhorrent. This would create one mega company that would be politically beholden to the Government.

You mean more than TVNZ and RNZ are now as SOE’s? And in what way would the NZ MSM’s worshipful coverage of St Jacinda of Corona differ from what it has been, complete with brain-dead questions that never even got to the heart of what was going on.

At the time of the Bauer decision none other than Stuff.co.nz wailed about this, “So many livelihoods, so much devastation“.

But the writing was on the wall for them too as the dreaded Chinese Kung Flu would go on to devastate the MSM even further and force Stuff itself to put out a begging bowl a couple of weeks ago:

Stuff has a long and trusted history of telling New Zealand stories. Through some of our newspapers, that dates back more than 150 years.

Now, as with many other news organisations here and abroad, you can make a direct digital donation too. Donating supports Stuff’s mission to report your stories without fear or favour, and with fierce independence – it directly contributes to powering newsrooms across New Zealand.

I’d like to think they were drunk when they wrote that: a wild last spree before hanging in the morning. This is the MSM source that basically won’t allow any but the mildest right-wing critiques of various issues to sully its comment sections.

It appears that that this announcement by NZME has temporarily stopped talk of a sale as the Australian owners of Stuff, Nine, have walked away from any discussions.


But only for a while. The relentless economics of the situation will force everybody’s hand on this sooner or later. If NZME and Stuff don’t merge the latter will simply collapse, leaving NZ effectively with the situation envisioned by DPF. Even that won’t matter because the NZ Herald won’t be far behind them.

Having started with one 1980’s movie classic I’ll finish with a 1991 movie, Other People’s Money

Despite the year it was made it captured the 80’s zeitgeist because it was based on the 1987 play of the same name. It’s nowhere near as well known as Wall Street, probably because the original play was twisted into a happy ending by Hollywood and the bad guy is played by Danny DeVito, who is no Michael Douglas.

Still, DeVito’s character, known as Larry The Liquidator, gives one of the all-time great speeches about the brutal realities of the marketplace, from which the quote below is probably the most well-known – and in this case the most appropriate:

 

We’re dead all right. We’re just not broke. 

And do you know the surest way to go broke. Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. 

Down the tubes. Slow but sure. 

You know, at one time there must have been dozens of companies making buggy whips. 

And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. 

Now how would you like to have been stock holder in that company?

Written by Tom Hunter

May 11, 2020 at 6:00 pm