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NRT: Not even pretending anymore

Written By: - Date published: 1:20 pm, January 21st, 2013 - 66 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, local government, national, sustainability, water - Tags: , ,

Missed this last week – from I/S at No Right Turn.


Not even pretending anymore

The government has given up even pretending that its suspension of democracy in Canterbury is because an elected ECan would make the “wrong” decisions:

But the Government says elections this year could potentially produce the same deadlock between rural and urban councillors that created the need for commissioners in the first place.

It says the commissioners’ work on freshwater needs to be finished before elections are held.

Local Government Minister David Carter says he did not want the commissioners’ unfinished work on water going to a council that may have the same rural-urban balance of power as its predecessor.

Which, when you get down to it, is the same justification used by Pinochet, Franco, Bainimarama, and every other two-bit despot: “those fools will ruin the country by voting for something I don’t like, so therefore their decision must be overturned”. Yes, National used a law rather than guns to do it – but that’s just a question of means. The underlying anti-democratic ideology is exactly the same.

Before the dissolution, urban representatives responded to their voters, and moved to protect Canterbury’s water. That meant that farmers didn’t get everything their own way. That’s democracy – and if one of our two major political parties doesn’t like it, then I think we have a severe problem in our country.

66 comments on “NRT: Not even pretending anymore”

  1. Peter 1

    Well, sort of. There’s a fair bit of urban vs rural in the situation, and handling a dairy boom with farmers chomping at the bit to get their part of it is never easy. But a lot of it was poor systems at ECan for handling it, and an RMA that didn’t provide for any easy ability to put moratoria and minimum flows on already over-allocated catchments. It had also handled its relationships with district councils poorly, leading to further political pressure.

    It took an amendment of the RMA itself in 2003 to get an operative minimum flow and allocation regime on the Lower Waitaki, and I believe that ECan asked for more resources later in the term of the fifth Labour government to address its unique situation. Central government didn’t provide anything.

    So in many ways, kicking the can down the road resulted in National’s rather draconian measure to remove the Councillors entirely. I always thought that was odd, because the old Labour-friendly chair had just been removed and replaced with Alec Neill, a former National MP for Waitaki, and a foot soldier for National for many years.

    As a planner maybe I see more complexity than others, but its far from a rural vs urban issue alone. It’s actually an issue of ecological limits, and most New Zealander’s limited understanding of them.

    Still I would have supported a half appointed, half elected Council, in transition back to full democracy. That may be an approach that has some merits on other regional councils as well.

    • tracey 1.1

      I don’t understand the degrading of the ecosystem to support farmers who have chosen to run dairy cows on arid, drought susceptible land. That’s ridiculous. They are doing the wrong kind of farming for the land and climate… I dont know of many other businesses that choose to set up somewhere they cannot succeed and then require an entire electoral process to be unwound to save them. It’s tragic.

      • Peter 1.1.1

        Well, they’ve terraformed the land using irrigation, which solves that problem.

        Some would argue that we’ve been terraforming NZ ever since humans arrived, by building up (and losing) soil, removing forests, draining wetlands etc. So in that respect, taking water from the ground and rivers and spreading it on paddocks as artificial rain is no different. Yes, it works. We’re seeing it now through Central Otago too – two dairy conversions there that I know of in the last week alone.

        You could argue that the ecosystem has been irrevocably changed since Maori fires burnt most of the Canterbury plains, and white settlers finished off what remains. So it’s a modified landscape from that which was originally there. So is all NZ farmland really – there’s no indigenous culture of pastoralism in NZ, we brought it here with us. Without that, it really would be chasing birds in the forest, or fishing in the rivers for food.

        The difference with dairy is just one of intensity and scale, rather than direction.

        There are advantages to irrigation in the right places beyond dairy though, and one of them is dealing with the effects of (not on) climate change. Irrigation is not all bad (it stops dust storms for instance, and builds up soil). On widescale though, no way.

  2. vto 2

    Yes, well thanks for posting that and getting my blood to boiling level again…

    “That meant that farmers didn’t get everything their own way. That’s democracy – and if one of our two major political parties doesn’t like it, then I think we have a severe problem in our country.”

    Yes we do have a severe problem in this country.

    David Carter, Amy Adams, Nick Smith, John Key and all the others are no better than tin-pot dictators. They deserve to be spat on at every opportunity. Pitoooey in their face.

    The only thing lacking, as you say, was the guns. But in fact the guns were used, as the jackboots of the state always sit underneath by way of threat. For example, if the councillors had refused to vacate the buildings what do you think would have happenned? Police. Which is guns.

    This whole greedy selfish tin-pot dictatorship theft is exactly imo the biggest thing to happen in this country during the entire term of this bastard government.

    Fuck them.

    • Peter 2.1

      What of the better environmental outcomes that will happen in Canterbury as a result of the new regime, and more particularly, the plans that its written. Also, what of the new relationships between farmers,communities, and environmentalists, occurring through the zone committee process?

      None of this would have happened had the grid lock remained.

      I’m not saying it’s super rosy on all fronts, but there has been huge progress, which needing enabling legislation. And, it’s better than a separate Canterbury Water Authority, that was suggested to deal with the issue, in isolation to all the other planning issues that regional councils must undertaken in tandem.

      And, if the dairy boom worries you (it should), there’s only one way to stop it, and that’s to create counterbalancing economic options, such as sorting sheep and beef out, and above all else, making manufacturing viable in this country again.

      • vto 2.1.1

        All of those matters come in underneath our overriding political structure which is of course democracy. Your suggestion of the ends (and I dispute some of your suggestions that they are “better”, they are not) justifying the means is exactly in accordance with the entire point of NRT’s post, which is brutal dictatorship.

        Or looking at your points in another way Peter – I look forward to seeing the same means applied to achieve whatever ends people, either individually or nationally, want in the future. I might just go and steal the neighbours potatoes. Or a Green government might just rip out all DOC concessions from our National Parks. Take your biggest greedy desire and get stuck in. Fuck all due process, it is of no importance. Your suggetsion is the slipperiest slope going.

        And let us not forget that this is solely about money and greed. Nothing else.

        • Peter 2.1.1.1

          I don’t like what happened, but the situation had been building for some time, (10 years plus), and something was bound to happen, due to the deadlock. Yes, you could have made a theoretical argument that “keeping democracy” (i.e, a Council of two diametrically opposed camps) was mandated simply because it was democratically elected, and thus unchallengeable, but this isn’t the way local government in New Zealand works. Local government has no authority unto itself, it only has those powers bestowed on it by central government (the opposite applies in Australia). Central government rarely steps over the wishes of locally elected members, but it can, and does, in exceptional circumstances. The abolishment of the provinces is the classic, as are the local government reforms of the late 1980s. Both were arguably far more undemocratic than what has happened in Canterbury.

          Canterbury was one of those exceptional circumstances just begging for Wellington to intervene, and I do actually blame inaction by the previous (Labour administration) for letting it get to the point where National was able to do what it did. Far from tory-proofed. There were other ways through, had they been started earlier. But they weren’t, and we got the commissioners (who BTW, don’t support themselves staying on in their current model).

          I guess I’m also opposed to binary ontological arguments that assume that because Democracy has been removed, that all that follows is somehow bad. Anyone who has worked in local government will tell you that their decision processes are far from the democratic ideal, with a few appointed staff wielding most of the power, and with the populace so far from awareness that they can never hold people to account through the ballot box. The decisions might be technically correct and responsible, but it doesn’t make them democratic. So in either way, it’s a “dictatorship” of terms, either with rubber-stamping councillors, or with commissioners. Not too different really.

          Canterbury had its circuit breaker, and we’ve got a better framework for making resource decisions in place now. Now all we need is elections. So it wasn’t all bad.

          • vto 2.1.1.1.1

            I understand what you are saying but I do not accept it.

            A few quick points;

            1. There was no deadlock. There was a clear stop put on further irrigation. That is not a deadlock that is a decision. What you refer to as a deadlock was simply greedy farmers wanting a different decision.

            2. If the ends justify the means then great, let me at it. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Fuck the system.

            3. As far as I’m concerned the Canterbury Plains are stuffed. It is simply the largest industrial park/wasteland in the country.

            • Peter 2.1.1.1.1.1

              There wasn’t really. The Paerora river was allocated to at least 110% of its resources, during that time on Council. Intriguingly, this was against the wishes of some of the local farmers, who wanted to see the thing flow…

              Until we’ve got something else earning as good and as reliable foreign exchange as agriculture, we are going to struggle politically to do anything that runs counter to that. I’ve spent much of my working life facing those challenges, there’s things you can do, but there are things you can’t. Magnify that a thousand fold and you’ve got the situation that the Greens will face, post 2014. That decision may cause a large number of their supporters to get disillusioned, as it faces up to agriculture’s power, and the limits on theirs (and Parliament’s as well).

              So, you need a counterbalancing force/economic power base to trade off with agriculture if we want to make headway on any of these issues in a meaningful way.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Until we’ve got something else earning as good and as reliable foreign exchange as agriculture,

                If we developed our economy we wouldn’t need foreign exchange.

                • vto

                  Agreed DTB. This myth that so many people, especially the rural community, seem to believe in is such patent balderdash it surprises me they have enough braincells in their heads to know which way to open a gate.

                  The idea that the only way for NZ to increase its wealth is by taking it from other countries is bizarre. I wonder if they have ever wondered how Planet Earth achieved its current wealth without taking it from other planets like Mars or Venus. ……

                • Peter

                  For most things we wouldn’t, no. Hence, me stating the need to build up manufacturing again…

              • tracey

                any discussions you know of around farming that land according to its soil type and climate? IE different crops/animals than dairy cows????

                • Peter

                  Heaps and heaps. I’ve even developed a tool that allows for that – http://www.yourland.co.nz.

                  But at issue is a culture that insists that the land can be bent and broken to your will, and made to do whatever you want, rather than farming according to the land. Rising input costs for traditional farms will help this, but it’ll also take some producer board style long term planning to make other forms of farming economic and desirable.

          • vto 2.1.1.1.2

            Heavy-arsed gangs put pressure on communities too Peter.

            By your reckoning we should turn a blind eye to their criminal activities and work with them instead.

            National Party = Mongrel Mob

            • Peter 2.1.1.1.2.1

              Last time I checked, farming, and in most cases, their level of polluting, isn’t a criminal activity. This is changing though, under many democratically elected councils that didn’t get into the same deadlock that Canterbury found itself in.

              • vto

                Bainimarama hasn’t done anything criminal either funnily enough. You miss the point.

              • Don't worry be happy

                This week 7,000 plus dairy cows will be loaded on a ship in Timaru and sent to China. Last time you looked Peter, say at the Animal Welfare Act , is that kind of animal torture legal?

                • Peter

                  I wasn’t talking about transport of animals, I was talking about the level of polluting on farms, from run-off. Traditionally, farming has been considered as a permitted activity, and the law has struggled to get around this. It’s starting to now, finally, with a multitude of approaches. I don’t know which combination of them will prove to be the best.

                  As for the transport of animals, completely separate issue, and yes, I agree. It’s morally wrong to put those animals on a ship to China. I also think it’s economic suicide to keep selling off our farming tech so cheaply as well, or I’d just recommend the usual way people handle animal genetics without live transfer – frozen semen. Law needs to be changed there.

              • tracey

                what do you mean? How many farmers willfully polluting would you consider a “criminal activity”? That it isn’t in the crimes act, is that what you mean? i agree with you about councils and the few wielding ridiculous power unfairly…

                • Peter

                  What I mean is that the test for criminal activity on a farm, by way of pollution, requires enforcement action and Environment Court prosecution, under tests set in either a District or Regional Plan. In many cases, those tests are high, probably too high, and it can be very hard to get a prosecution due to the complexity of the issues.

      • fatty 2.1.2

        And, if the dairy boom worries you (it should), there’s only one way to stop it, and that’s to create counterbalancing economic options, such as sorting sheep and beef out, and above all else, making manufacturing viable in this country again.

        What an unfortunate statement…do you apply TINA to everything, even filling our rivers and fresh water reserves with cow shit?

        • Peter 2.1.2.1

          I must have slain some sacred cows today. Maybe not Holsten-Friesan crosses. No I don’t apply TINA to everything. I prefer the far more attractive Tara.

          But, the realities of things on the ground, and I see them in my day job, is that the forces behind irrigation development and dairying are large, and the money stacks up. So either you are going to have to counter that with a stack of political support, both in local authorities and central government, with a law change or new framework that effectively says no to any new water in certain areas. And then you are going to have to spend a substantial degree of political capital fighting to maintain that law regime, and having industry undermine you at each and every turn.

          You can choose that option, and you need those who fight for it (which is partially what I specialise in actually), but ultimately the forces behind the problem are not going to abate until you sort out the economic structure of the country.

          • vto 2.1.2.1.1

            The force you talk of Peter is the force of greed. I don’t think you should give it any legitimacy.

            • Peter 2.1.2.1.1.1

              Of course it’s the force of greed. It’s the force of money from a hungry world in a nation steeped in producing vast quantities of agricultural produce.

              Ignoring greed, or stonewalling it (short of guaranteed political support to stonewall it) won’t stop it. You’ll just get ECan style deadlock somewhere else.

              What you need are alternatives that remove the focus on agriculture, or bring money back into other more sustainable types of farming. All are achievable, but none will happen simply by banging on at the dairy industry all the time.

              • vto

                to be or not to be Peter, that is the question. You have clearly made an answer.

                • Peter

                  Monday must be the day of binaries…

                  • vto

                    The greed for milling native forests was stopped.

                    What’s the difference here?

                    methinks you are probably too close to the daily workings to see the big picture which is the subject of the post.

                    • Peter

                      Yeah, after most of the Central North island was turned into farmland, and then back into exotic forest.

                      On the West Coast, yeah, the last few big podocarp forests got saved, in part because of huge political pressure, and again, because of marginal economics. The two aligned quite nicely, although the latter gets forgotten. Also, without the forest, the land underneath is of little use.

                      Agriculture on high class soils and massively modified landscape is another matter entirely.

                    • vto

                      “Yeah, after most of the Central North island was turned into farmland, and then back into exotic forest. ”

                      Most of NZ has been turned into farmland. You argue against yourself.

                      “On the West Coast, yeah, the last few big podocarp forests got saved, in part because of huge political pressure, and again, because of marginal economics.”

                      Was not marginal economics actually. Don’t believe the hype. And anyways, how much does the price of butterfat have to drop before the dairy sector collapses under the weight of this this-time-its-different boom? You know it aint much.

                      “Also, without the forest, the land underneath is of little use.”

                      What happenned to Canterbury’s soil when the forest was stripped away? It ended up in the Pacific. Is it going to happen again now that all the hedgerows have removed so the irrigators can swing?

                      “Agriculture on high class soils and massively modified landscape is another matter entirely.”.

                      All that has been previously modified is the removel of the vegetation. You will be aware how quickly that can be replaced.

                      As I said before Peter, all of your points here centre around the ends justifying the means, and that is the justification of every dictator there has ever been. Don’t complain when this process is used again for some other purpose.

      • MrSmith 2.1.3

        “And, if the dairy boom worries you (it should), there’s only one way to stop it, and that’s to create counterbalancing economic options, such as sorting sheep and beef out, and above all else, making manufacturing viable in this country again.”

        Peter you sound like a National party apologist. Basically what your saying here is the only way to stop the dairy boom is to some how manufacture a sheep, beef and manufacturing boom.

        So what would that involve Peter? How about the government opening up DOC land for farming or allowing child slave labour in factories, maybe a few labour camps for all prisoners, unemployed, solo mothers.

        At the moment all thats going on is National are stealing our water and handing it over to their farmer mates because a democratically elected council wouldn’t.

        • Peter 2.1.3.1

          That same democratically elected council allocated catchments beyond 100% of their water too, well before its councillors got their pink slips. Down in Otago we are still dealing with the effects of last time that happened, in the 1860s with mining rights…

          Anyway, I didn’t say manufacture a sheep and beef boom. Booms aren’t really good for anyone nor the environment, except perhaps the banks. I said get some long term price guarantees back into that part of farming. Same with strong wool actually. I doubt anyone would disagree with me.

          And for those who don’t understand, what that means, largely, is that there will be money in dryland farming, without relying on sucking up rivers or aquifers, or damming mountain valleys for water storage. I would have assumed that was a “good thing”.

          As for manufacturing, it’s quite simple, we sort out our monetary policy, get the dollar down to an acceptable level, bring in a financial transactions tax to stop NZ being used as a tax haven, and probably, some form of export incentives. After all, that is traditionally how NZ operated, and we did quite well under that regime.

          • MrSmith 2.1.3.1.1

            “That same democratically elected council allocated catchments beyond 100% of their water too, well before its councillors got their pink slips. Down in Otago we are still dealing with the effects of last time that happened, in the 1860s with mining rights…”

            Here you go again apologizing for the current behavior because the last lot supposedly did it to, the difference being of-course the last lot were democratically elected unlike the current puppets.

            The rest of your ideas are sound, just stop apologizing for the current state of affairs please or maybe you are happy to see it continue because you’re getting plenty of consultancy work out of it?

            • Peter 2.1.3.1.1.1

              Not apologising at all, it’s all shocking. What I’m pointing out is that we’ve got an operative Regional Plan in place in Canterbury now, whereas previously, there wasn’t one.

              I’m also trying to point out, contrary to the popular opinion here, that the previous regime was far from rosy, either on the democracy or on its decisions.

              • vto

                First paragraph – is it an operative plan approved by the populace who lives in the region? Again, Bainimarama and all other dictatorships make the same claims Peter. Ends and means again.

                Second paragraph – it was only not rosy from the perspective of one tiny greedy minority who wanted more money.

                • McFlock

                  At least the rivers run on time… :)

                • Peter

                  It’s never been an operative plan approved by the populace. :) It formerly used to be an operative plan approved by the 20% or so of people who bothered to participate in regional council elections, which invariably, was the rural part of the electorate, along with a bevy of councillors. So, much the same to be honest.

                • vto

                  You’re dancing on the head of a pin Peter. You know the point I am making.

                  Following your reasoning there we may as well do away with all democracy eh. Same result, or even better in your books.. What;s the point?

                  Further additional – if only 20% participate in Regional Council elections and they are mostly rural then what the fuck was the problem in Canterbury? Seems the previous “regime” was approved by them according to you.

                  This it the fact: Famers were not getting their own way utilising normal democratic and business processes that have been developed over the centuries and generally accepted as pretty much worlds best practice and which those farmers have relied on themselves over the decades, so what do they do? They get their people to trash those normal democratic and business processes and simply steal what they want.

                  They are dirty thieves Peter, nothing more. They deserve nothing but scorn and spittle.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Farmers have more political and economic influence in NZ than most other sectors. That was a fact of NZ life 60 years ago, and it’s a fact of NZ life now.

                    You want to change that? Then someone should propose measures to take away their over-sized political and economic influence.

                    I’m especially interested if anyone can suggest a democratic way to do that. My bet is, no you can’t.

                    • vto

                      So does the military in Fiji CV. I don’t understand the relevance of that fact to this situation.

                      But to have a crack – Canterbury had in place an electoral system and region whereby that agricultural power was not getting its own way. It didn’t like it so it brought out the guns.

                      Just because they win does not mean they are right or that their methods are justified or that the spittle shouldn’t gob them in the eye.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      vto, stonewalling a powerful constituency and lobby group while leaving them their full influence intact is only an adequate short term tactic and not a sustainable strategy. Sooner or later they will find a way to undermine whatever safeguards and regulations have been set in place. They have the political and economic firepower to do this. As this example shows.

                      So I ask again, what do you want NZ to do to reduce the concentration of economic influence and political power in the dairy sector?

                    • vto

                      I appreciate that reality CV. Most of my points concern the right or wrong of such realities, not the reality of the reality. As I said, the Fijian military also holds that same influence but that means diddly squat to a quality long term society. Sure, they exist but they are still fuckers who must be resisted. Alternative – lay down and submit to the most powerful interests in the land.

                      What does one do about it? Vote Them Out of course.

                      But seriously? I don’t know, but they have shat all over our system and stolen the resources. I don;t like it and many others don’t as well. That begins to form its own constituency with its own power base too.

                      But sheesh, who on earth has ever been able to stand up to the greed and lust of Man? Not many. It is one of the reasons so many fear for the future of our planet and the reasons for many societies collapse. It is a sad and sorry approach to our lives and our childrens future. Sad sad farmers.

                      It comes down to this CV, as I said before to Peter, … to be or not to be that is the question… (thanks Shakespeare)

                      is it not?

                  • Peter

                    “You’re dancing on the head of a pin Peter. You know the point I am making.”

                    I sort of have to on this one. I know people have a democratic ideal in their heads, and I know the reality of “democratic” decision making, especially at a local level on resource management decisions. Those processes won’t meet most people’s ideals, but put those same people in a similar situation, and you’ll find them engaging in all the same behaviours.

                    Hence, my lack of time for idealism on resource management issues. I’d prefer to look at bad environmental trends and put systems in place to address them and turn them around, “democratic” or not. I’d naturally prefer democracy, if that’s what is on offer, but this time around in Canterbury, another more powerful democracy (central government) decided it wasn’t on the menu.

                    “Famers were not getting their own way utilising normal democratic and business processes that have been developed over the centuries and generally accepted as pretty much worlds best practice and which those farmers have relied on themselves over the decades, so what do they do?”

                    Not entirely. The systems available under the RMA weren’t tested in an environment of real scarcity, such as what occurred in Canterbury. There’s a naive free market liberalism through much of that law that will not help New Zealand as we increasingly hit up against those limits. Yeah, the farmers gamed it, and largely won, which is usual political history for them, and the response from the rest of NZ was largely, yawn. Sure a few people fought hard, Central South Island Fish and Game, Forest and Bird, EDS etc, but it wasn’t enough. It won’t be the last time we face a pitched battle on scarcity either, and the next time one occurs, the environmental movement better prepare itself better.

                    “They are dirty thieves Peter, nothing more. They deserve nothing but scorn and spittle.”

                    Well, others have said that too, and it’s true in the case of a few I’ve had the misfortune to come across. I wouldn’t apply it generally though. General rules of thumb wind up with your thumb bruised.

                    • vto

                      Ends and means Peter. I think we have completely different approaches to the way our NZ world works. I prefer to get the big picture right and work backwards to the specific issue of the day. For you, it appears to be the other way around. Fundamental difference and I suggest that your process is one which carries the greater risk of disaster and failure for society in the long term.

                      Better some small scale mistakes from time to time as a result of larger processes than large scale disasters from bodgy or no processes.

                      Time for tea.

              • One Tāne Huna

                …previously, there wasn’t one.

                “Smith’s repeated assertions do not make them true. Even his appointed ECan commissioner, [Peter] Skelton, has rebutted them, saying in mid-2011 that the `widespread misunderstanding’ that there wasn’t a water plan was incorrect,”

                Sir Kerry Burke, democratically elected ECAN member, ex chair.

                • vto

                  Yep, that is exactly right OTH.

                  Siry Kerry Burke has labelled them lies and liars (in diplomatic terms).
                  Judge Skelton has labelled them lies and liars.
                  I think even Caygill has labelled them lies and liars.
                  The current commissioners don’t want anymore of this and while not labelling them lies and liars they say the same thing in even more diplomatic terms.

                  I mean, we have these highly regarded people (hard to get more highly regarded) calling Smith & co blatant liars, yet it seems to fall on deaf ears. When I raise this in various circles, because people do not follow the detail, it is I who gets the beady eye. Such is politics I guess. What a horrid world.

      • bad12 2.1.4

        Gosh, thank you Generalismo for that, now ‘just how’ do you make manufacturing in New Zealand viable in our little country???…

        • Peter 2.1.4.1

          This is the Standard mate :) Plenty of suggestions. Not saying you’ll listen, but there’s no shortage of ideas around here about making manufacturing work here. It still does…

  3. One Tāne Huna 3

    The criminal endeavour comes up for ministerial review next year. They will now have a hard time pretending that “the same rural-urban balance of power” is not a factor in their decision.

    Which surely leaves whatever decision is made (short of a restoration of law and order) open to judicial review.

    There must be a better way to prevent political parties from fronting criminal behaviour like this.

    Complete transparency of political donations would be a start.

  4. Dr Terry 4

    I would suspect that Peter is indeed a National Party apologist if only because he must always have the last word. I hope his actions live up to all that stream of fancy vernacular. I always thought New Zealand was a Democracy without qualification, either it is or it isn’t, there can be no half measures. In any true democracy, “the ends justifying the means” is of dubious political morality (as is the justification of “greed”). What is “democracy”, then? “Government by the people or their elected representatives”; “the practice or spirit of social equality”; “social condition of classlessness or equality”. But here we have Peter suggesting, as though this is desirable, a “transition back to full democracy”. Democracy to be democracy leaves no room for “transitions” of any kind. Here we see democracy being compromised. When democracy is removed, that in and of itself is “bad”, Peter, never mind any other consequences.
    What Canterbury now has Peter terms “the new regime” – what an interesting selection of a word! Regimes might get improved outcomes, but that does not necessarily make them desirable (my dictionary makes particular reference to “fascist regime” – no doubt that one did a certain amount of good, when you look closely!). Peter graciously refers to National’s “rather draconian measure” (“rather?” Either it is or it is not, such qualifications are unacceptable to a real Democracy) to remove (“remove”!) the Councillors entirely”. He even resorts to the hackneyed old argument that “Labour is to blame” – revealing his desperation to dig up a solid argument.
    I cannot be bothered going on with this, just let me conclude by wearily citing Peter again, “It’s an issue of ecological limits” – but “New Zealanders just don’t understand them” (as does the condescending Peter, of course).
    Oh, I fear that I am wasting time and energy on this.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      I always thought New Zealand was a Democracy without qualification, either it is or it isn’t, there can be no half measures.

      Of course there can be half measures and compromise, that’s the real world we live in. NZ is, and never has been an ideal democracy. There are plenty of qualifiers which apply. Let’s not suddenly get idealistic and amnesiac all in one go.

    • Galeandra 4.2

      ‘Oh, I fear that I am wasting time and energy on this.’

      It’s a vexing issue and Peter’s discussion has been illuminating and good-humoured, despite the malice of some who disagreed with him.

      I think we need a better understanding of what we expect of ‘democracy’ as it is played out at the macro and the micro level, nationally and locally. Certainly there are significant areas where most of us take things on trust with regard to elected representatives and are largely unaware of the work of the ‘mandarins’ who make many of the real decisions far from the public eye. Trust is properly part of many social exchanges, and there are a range of sanctions that should be imposed when it is breached.
      In many of the arguments in this thread I detect a degree of absolutism, akin to deeply held religious faith, or political fundementalism. ” There are no half measures.” I am reminded of my old father’s vociferous insistence that he had pedestrian right of way even as huge trucks bore down on him. Sometimes, fortunately, compromise was unavoidable.

      All that talk of spitting makes me sick.

      • Peter 4.2.1

        Yeah, good points. The issue you speak of is a key one in planning, and it concerns the ability of elected councillors to make and/or understand highly technical topics, when they themselves don’t either have the time nor the interest to understand them. In many cases, it’s a vague strategic direction at best, and a rubber-stamping at worse. There’s a lot of crossover, and somewhere in that messy process decisions are made by almost enough people to give them legitimacy. You’ll notice that for instance, in resource management, that we don’t place much faith in local councils to make the right decision, so we allow for appeals. Therefore, most of the final decisions are not made by local authorities or their representatives. Hell, the Environment Court can directly override local authorities if it chooses, without their consent (and when it does on the side of the environment, we tend to cheer it, as with the recent Mackenzie landscape decision..).

        It’s one of the little understood features of planning/RMA law in NZ that submissions and comment processes don’t exist to provide for democracy – they aren’t votes or vetoes. They exist solely on the off-chance that they might improve the information flow to the decision makers. This feature of our law has been in place for close to 50 years.

        What is means is that the technical decision, reviewable by technical experts, tends to carry the day, and not that of lay opinion.

  5. Peter 5

    Ah sigh. What I find is interesting, always is, in these debates is how if you say something that that majority don’t agree with, or provide another perspective on a common theme, or an idea that people think is sacred, the personal attacks come out. Whilst I disagree with the tone and views of a number here, can you point to any place where I’ve started attacking people personally? Didn’t think so. But you get that, as I like saying.

    “National Party Apologist”. Indeed. I’ll leave the final assessment of that to the people that know me. I’ve voted Labour my whole life.

    I never suggested that a “transition back to full democracy is desirable”. I’d have ECan back in 2014 as a fully elected council, if it was up to me. The Environment Canterbury commissioners were those who suggested a transition, 50% elected, 50% appointed. They were overruled by David Carter, Gerry Brownlee, and others. Even the “dictators” as you kindly call a group of rather respected and able individuals, wanted ECan to return to being fully elected. That was what I was quoting.

    For the record, it is bad that the ECan councillors were removed. I have never suggested otherwise. They will be back, and the situation isn’t without precedent in NZ history either. What I am resisting, to some flak, is the idea that the Commissioners have not done any good – they have, and that somehow the old deadlocked council was perfect, just because it was elected.

    I’ve also singled out Labour here, and rightly so, it allowed the deadlock in Canterbury to occur, and ignored at least one official plea for legal ability (i.e a change to the RMA) to solve the intractable issues with running a first-come-first served consenting regime on over-allocated rivers in Canterbury. Labour did intervene once, to its credit, by getting a planning system in place for the Lower Waitaki River. Apart from that, it was left to its devices when it needed support. Had that support come when requested, and new approaches tried, the Council may have very well stayed.

    • vto 5.1

      Again, there was no deadlock. There was a group of farmers and businessmen unhappy they weren’t getting their own way. That is not a deadlock.

      edit: don’t sweat the personal here Peter. I cop it all the time. Goes with the territory. It is good to have someone to debate this with because no bloody farmers ever seem to stand up and debate this. They just grunt and curse and walk off like spoiled brats

      • Peter 5.1.1

        Yeah fair enough. I just compare it with the situation at the Otago Regional Council, whereby a bunch of fairly decent (and a couple of crappy ones) minimum flows have gone through, along with a new plan to deal with off farm water quality has largely gone through without the heat that these same issues had in Canterbury. That will be tougher than most rules in Canterbury, even under their new plan. The same in Manawatu, although that was far more pitched with parts still in Court, but the Council still remains, and will be elected again this October.

        The difference appears to be diversity in the farming community, and diversity in the many different communities. In Canterbury, you had urban and rural, and when the provincial towns and their district councils sided with the rural, ECan could not survive. With different leadership and different strategies, I think ECan could have got through on a democratic model.

      • rosy 5.1.2

        I’ve gotta say I really appreciate this discussion between Peter and vto. I’m with vto on the dictatorial demolition of democracy in Canterbury, but understand a bit more about the issues Peter has outlined.

        Although Labour may have been at fault for not involving itself in ECan issues, doesn’t the outcome of the Lower Waitaki River intervention show there was a way forward without removing a democratically elected body? There’s no excuse for what National did here, despite the fact that the commissioners may have done a good job. The council may have been able to do a good job as well, with the right support and without suspending democracy in the region.

        For the record, I think the ecological limits have been exceeded with the large number of dairy conversions in Canterbury. Dairying has no place in much on Canterbury and turning the country into a mono-agricultural factory farm does the country no good either.

        Yes, there needs to be a better and more diverse economy but part of the path to that is telling the over-exploiters of the environment ‘no, find something else’. The ECan situation isn’t a filler until a better balanced economy is achieved, it actively works against that happening. You can’t have the government suspending democracy and shoving money into irrigation schemes to support one group of capitalists and telling other capitalists that the market will provide the lead to prosperity. It’s unbalanced (boom and bust thinking) as well as unethical.

        • Peter 5.1.2.1

          Well, the Lower Waitaki River intervention required a law change through parliament to set up a special committee to effectively write a regional water plan for that part of the river. The situation across the rest of the region at that time was that ECan did not have an operative regional plan for the whole region, only a provisional one.

          Therefore, you would have had to intervene across the whole region, which is basically what happened…

          There are a few aspects to carrying capacity. Dry Canterbury soils can largely cope with the physical requirements of large scale dairying, in a way that say, wet soils in South Otago or Southland struggle. Not to mention flat land. Of course, the real issues remain water and waste. If you want healthy rivers, healthy fisheries, then you either have to say no to dairying (which is close to impossible under current systems), or push for storage. At the moment, it’s a bit of both. None of these solve the waste issue though – the eutrophied dead zones off the coast, the rising nitrate levels in the aquifers under Canterbury itself, not to mention the falling aquifer pressure in some places leading to saltation (sea water flowing back into a freshwater aquifer).

          I would support telling the exploiters to bugger off and find something else, although I must add that I have seen dairy conversions that have resulted in large scale *improvements* in water quality from their previous sheep and beef operations. It isn’t always a one way street.

          But, I go back to what Colonial Viper stated – “So I ask again, what do you want NZ to do to reduce the concentration of economic influence and political power in the dairy sector?”

          I’m keen to hear what your ideas are on this, and not just ideas, also the reality of trying to implement them.

          • vto 5.1.2.1.1

            Peter, been thinking about that question since yesterday. Rural interests have an influence that is out of proportion to their population but, I guess, in proportion to their economy. However, urban interests, or rather, longer term environmental interests, also have an influence and I would suggest that that influence would trump the rural over time. They have a greater population. They also have an economy at least as great as rural. The rural influence I think stems from its historic gerrymandered influence which is of course signifcantly less today. That influence is waning.

            The way that may manifest itself is in a similar manner to that which you outlined previously, namely the greater democractic process of national politics and elections rather than local. A government will be elected which has a mandate to turn this direction around – elected by that non-rural interest group. Evidence of this can be seen in the rise of the greens. It can also be seen in the last election result where the centre-right block in fact scored less than the centre-left block. This trend has accelerated since that last election.

            Evidence for ths is also seen in the gold rush that has been water applications and mining applications. It is as if those who operate in those spheres see this government as a last chance to grab resources before the turning tide drags away any further hope for grabbing resources. Get in now – Key and co. are the last hope for this old style.

            And a little further – this particular issue you raise ties in with neoliberal policies and this is on the way out. My 2c says that this current government will be the last of its type for quite some time. The tide has turned and is on the retreat. Remember that conservatives are always the last to accept and embrace changes to reality.

            • Peter 5.1.2.1.1.1

              Oh absolutely. I’ve seen it at work in a number of contexts, with farmers who once had influence now realising that they’ve lost their predominance to other interests. Many are also realising that their primary interest group, Federated Farmers, no longer represents them or their interests. Interestingly, I’ve seen some very progressive dairy farmers saying this – they want the laggards out of the industry and fast.

              A case in point is the Mackenzie, where I spent 18 months debating these issues with various interests. What was once pure high country farming dominance is now well split between farming (it will always be important), tourism, and electricity generation. Same applies all over. It led to a bit of anger and sadness as the farmers worked that out, and I don’t blame them for those emotions.

              I would be hopeful that the nastier edge of rural interests is waning, but I also look at the environmental and economic costs of running and sustaining jobs in cities. We can’t sustain those on current levels without some form of intensive agriculture or irrigation. So, unless we undertake a massive investment in post-oil infrastructure for New Zealand, it may just be that rural interests keep our lights on, and that will come with veto powers…

              Unless NZ develops an alternative infrastructure to cope with peaking resources, and does so fast, we are going to be back in farmer control quite quickly me thinks.

              I also wouldn’t portray the Greens as a solely urban movement. My partner is in the dairy industry, and staunchly votes Green. There are many others I know as well… The essence of the word conservative is “to conserve”. I’d say that the problem with the National Party on environmental matters is that it has far too many of the neoliberal type, compared with the more traditional conservatives it once had.

              In my career in conservation, I have found that urban environmental liberals are quite happy to write you a submission moaning about something, but far less likely to get their hands dirty doing something. Instead, they’ll leave it to someone else, generally an expensive professional who may no longer exist. So, I’ll give a nod to the farmers, hunters, fisherman, etc, who despite massive differences in political opinion with someone like me, will go out there and do environmentally good things. They don’t get anywhere near enough credit.

          • rosy 5.1.2.1.2

            Thanks for the reply Peter
            – I can’t see that add extra resources to develop the Lower Waitaki Plan is the same as sacking a council and refusing citizens the right to vote. Why couldn’t a similar process to the Lower Waitaki be used for ECan as a whole? Do you have any info about what happened, why it happened and the outcome? I’m quite interested to see the similarities and differences with the ECan situation.

            – Carrying capacity is moot when keeping water clean is impossible.

            – I don’t have any answers – yet – on reducing the concentration of economic influence in the dairy sector… I’m learning, which is why I found this discussion so interesting. Just that diversity is better than monoculture, especially when the water and feed resources (NZ is already importing shiploads of feed for cows) are insufficient for the needs of the industry. the whole agriculture/horticulture sector needs to be heard by government and then the government needs to provide fair, sustainable development direction. This is barely being talked about, it’s all just bulldoze through schemes to suit dairy conversions in Canterbury (and reduce environmental monitoring – cutting funding for environmental concerns will do that – seems to me there’s a bit of if they don’t know what’s happening, it can be ignored).

            I think the comments below this one, especially re Kerry Burke’s opinion, are also illuminating.

  6. vto 6

    Sir Kerry Burke, Chairman of Ecan before the thieves took over has a piece in The Press this morning (can’t find online) wherein he lays out the lies and deception of rural District Council Mayors and Nick Smith, Wyatt Creech and all other duplicitous bastards of this government.

    There is absolutely no doubt this has been an outright theft.

    Farmers abhor thieves, yet they themselves thieve in this instance.

    Scorn and spittle (suck it up galeandra, this aint no cup of tea). May they rot in a pile of cow shit.

    • MrSmith 6.1

      The link your looking for vto.

      http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/perspective/8205626/How-ECan-fell-to-the-irrigators

      No doubt Peter will have some more apologizes.

      • vto 6.1.1

        Thanks MrSmith. Readers should read this as it outlines how the theft took place. How our democracy was stripped away by the hands of our very own neighbours for their own self-enrichment. Taking from one and giving to thyself.

      • Peter 6.1.2

        Apologising? Or context-setting? Anyway, doesn’t matter.

        There’s one comment that’s interesting in Burke’s piece.

        ‘”Red Zones” were where water was already fully allocated but the Environment Court and/or Hearing Panels still gave away water in those zones against ECan’s wishes.’

        Against ECan’s wishes? You mean against staff wishes? Hearing panels are made up of elected councillors, they are ECan, their wishes (whether right or wrong), are ECan.

        • MrSmith 6.1.2.1

          Still nit picking I see Peter.

          The, “they did it too argument” is the one we used in primary school, it doesn’t or shouldn’t hold any water!

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  • SHUT DOWN THIS GOVT NOT KAITI WINZ – Nikora
    “I’m going to make it as hard for you to get help as I can” is Paula Bennett’s message to the people of Kaiti  said MANA candidate Te Hāmua Nikora today in response to the news that National will close...
    Mana | 16-09
  • Winegums make for better polling – Harawira
    I wanted to laugh when I saw the Native Affairs poll the other night (Hone Harawira 38%, Kelvin Davis 37%) because it was almost the same as the one they did back in 2011”, said MANA leader and Tai Tokerau...
    Mana | 16-09
  • The Leadership of MTS Lied – Harawira
    “Normally I’m happy to tell people that I was right but when I received the news about the staff cuts at Maori Television, I had nothing but sympathy for the three Maori media leaders who are going to be made...
    Mana | 16-09
  • Privileges Complaint Laid against Prime Minister – Harawira
    MANA Movement Leader and Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira has today lodged a Privileges Complaint with the Speaker regarding the Prime Ministers denials in parliament that he knew anything about Kim Dotcom before 2012. “Information made public today appears...
    Mana | 15-09
  • Sharples’ new appointments are out of order
    The new appointments to the Waitangi Tribunal announced by Dr Pita Sharples this morning are completely out of order given the election is just five days away, says Labour's State Services spokesperson, Maryan Street. “This Government continues to show disdain...
    Labour | 15-09
  • MANA Movement Housing Policy
    “When families are living in cars, garages, cockroach-infested caravans and three families to a house then we have a housing crisis”, said MANA leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira. “When you have a housing crisis for low-income...
    Mana | 15-09
  • Bigger than the Foreshore and Seabed – Sykes
    “Over the past week I have received some disturbing information that has led myself and a number of Maori lawyers to conclude that this National - Maori Party - ACT and United Future Government are going to put an end to both...
    Mana | 14-09
  • MANA wants Te Reo Māori petition fulfilled
    Hone Harawira, MANA Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau Annette Sykes, MANA candidate for Waiariki Te Hāmua Nikora, MANA candidate for Ikaroa Rāwhiti  “More than four decades have passed and the petition calling for Te Reo Māori in schools...
    Mana | 14-09
  • Primary focus on the critical issues
    A Labour Government will prioritise New Zealand’s agricultural sectors by recreating a Rural Affairs Minister and appointing a Primary Industry Council and a Chief Agricultural Adviser. Releasing Labour’s Primary Sector and Rural Affairs policies today, spokesperson Damien O’Connor says the...
    Labour | 12-09
  • Maori Television fears confirmed – Harawira
    ...
    Mana | 12-09
  • More ghost houses from National
    The Government’s desperate pre-election announcement of more ghost houses won’t fool Aucklanders wanting action on the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “These are ghost houses, to go with National’s ghost tax cut. Families cannot live in ghost...
    Labour | 12-09
  • National bows to union pressure over travel time
    National has reluctantly bowed to pressure from unions and adopted Labour’s fair and sensible policy to pay home support workers for the time they spend traveling between clients, Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “This decision is long overdue...
    Labour | 12-09
  • I feel sorry for Labour Party members and supporters
    I feel really sorry for the members and supporters of the Labour Party as they watch their caucus tear itself to shreds. And no matter what the outcome of the coming leadership race Labour members and supporters will be the...
    The Daily Blog | 01-10
  • Ummmm, why is Auckland Transport spying on Aucklanders?
    Ummm. What? Sophisticated surveillance coming to Auckland Surveillance technology that uses high definition cameras and software that can put names to faces and owners to cars is coming to Auckland. The surveillance has the capability to also scan social media...
    The Daily Blog | 01-10
  • It. Is. About. The. Economy. Stupid.
    Liam Dann does a good job of explaining the positive and negative issues looming for the NZ economy and as dairy prices plunge again overnight alongside a large Wall st sell off  and China Bank rumours begin, his case for the negative...
    The Daily Blog | 01-10
  • Don’t think of it as reinvading Iraq, think of it as redecorating Iraq
    I think some NZers view Iraq like an episode of The Block. Yes Iraq is the worst country on the street, but with a bit of elbow grease by our SAS and some great deals down at Bunnings, hey presto we...
    The Daily Blog | 01-10
  • GUEST BLOG: Joe Trinder – Mana Maori alliance
    Most Maori you speak to on the street can’t understand why Mana movement and  Maori Party don’t combine it confuses them why Maori are divided cross benches in Parliament instead of a unified political power that represents 15% of the...
    The Daily Blog | 01-10
  • Party members and affiliates – the real losers in Labour’s leadership f...
    Hey, wanna do a back room deal that cuts the members and affiliates out? Cunliffe must be reeling. He has lost failed Ilam candidate James Dann. It must cut as deep as the loss of Steve Gibson. Apart from providing Claire...
    The Daily Blog | 30-09
  • Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking rant on Radio Hauraki: Today, the election res...
    Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking rant on Radio Hauraki: Today, the election result...
    The Daily Blog | 30-09
  • The rich get richer
    Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman highlights the growing inequality in this article in the New York Times. The left wing slogan that the “the rich get richer” is a fact of almost perverse power. The most recent period of expansion in the...
    The Daily Blog | 30-09
  • A brief word on reinvading Iraq
    So after telling the country before the election that NZ would not send forces to Iraq, lo and behold now he’s won the election with a full spectrum dominance political majority, Key is suddenly now looking to join the re-invasion of...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • A brief word on the importance of ACT, Maori Party and United Future to Nat...
    I’m a far right wing clown who attacks tax money going on anything collective, gimmie some cash and privilege.  One of the great successes of National has been to implement hard right policy but have it sold as moderate. For some NZers,...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • Labour’s Angst
    Was Labour’s predictably low vote David Cunliffe’s fault? Was it policy? Was it something else that has aroused perceptions of electoral carnage? My analysis of the numbers suggests that, as uncertain voters made up their minds, there was a late...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • Information wars: Gaza as “the last taboo”, the threat of mass surveill...
    “When the truth is replaced with silence” wrote the soviet dissident Yevgeni Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.” There has been a silence these past months full of noise, static and sound bites of those in power justifying their violence,...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • When the media say they covered Dirty Politics – did they?
    I was watching The Nation in the weekend, and watched the defenders of NZ media up against Minto telling him he was wrong in his claims of media bias and that the media covered Dirty Politics. I laughed. When the...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • GUEST BLOG – P Campbell – To the Left with love
    A week after the general election results I feel wrung out emotionally, having been through the disappointment, depression and anger of seeing  another right wing government elected overwhelmingly by winning support from the parts of NZ that will never benefit...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Kate Davis – I will be the new Labour Leader!
    One week after the election, while I was still waiting to be consulted about contributing to the review on what went wrong, what do you know? There is a leadership challenge. So instead of opting for a united, thoughtful and...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Pat O’Dea – A Prescient Post
    A very prescient pre-election post by Martyn Bradbury tells us why the Labour Party are at war now. “The NZ First-Labour Party attack strategy against Internet MANA better work” Despite Martyn Bradbury warning them this Right Wing strategy “Better Work”...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – W(h)ither Labour (!/?)
    There’s an old saying that success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan. Not so in the Labour Party, wherein soul-crushing defeat on a scale unseen since 1925 definitely has many fathers (and more than a few mothers and...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • At the end of the day…
    At the end of the day…...
    The Daily Blog | 29-09
  • Cynicism towards Key’s sudden desire to help children in poverty
    Cynicism towards Key’s sudden desire to help children in poverty...
    The Daily Blog | 28-09
  • Internet MANA the election and the media
    I’ve been very critical of media reporting of Internet MANA during the election campaign and not surprised at the predictable response from representatives of the corporate media establishment. I wasn’t going to carry this further but was asked at the...
    The Daily Blog | 28-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Rachel Jones – A superficial discourse analysis of a superfic...
    On Sunday there was a story about Paddy Gower and his detached retina in the Herald on Sunday. Really? I hear you ask. Really? Yes, really. Pam Corkery will have sprayed toast crumbs over her dressing gown. The reporter has become...
    The Daily Blog | 28-09
  • Terrorising Australia’s Muslim population
    We should be suspicious when 800 police conduct “terror” raids across Australia, but only one person is charged with a relevant terrorism offence (of which we know few details). We should be suspicious of the lurid tales of terrorists planning...
    The Daily Blog | 28-09
  • Another Labour leader has resigned and as per usual, the media lost its min...
    Another Labour leader has resigned and as per usual, the media lost its mind. I know the Labour party has its problems and I’m not even going to try to prescribe what should be done about it. But what I...
    The Daily Blog | 28-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Anjum Rahman – Loyalty, Leadership and the Labour Party
    My first after the election and I can only say I’m feeling pretty sad.  It was a terrible result, and feels even more so knowing the number of volunteers hours, hard work & sacrifice made by so many people who...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • A Study in Party Stability
    . In terms of long-term stability, one party above stands above all others, with the exception of personality-driven groups such as NZ First and United Future. That party is the Greens. If the Labour Party wants to look elsewhere for...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • Cunliffe vs Robertson – Round 2
    Much to the disappointment of the NZ Herald and other right wing pundits who have decided they would like to appoint the next Labour leader, Cunliffe has surprised by deciding to damn the Caucus and appeal directly to the members...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • The tasks before the left and labour movement
    Anyone on the left would have been disappointed at the result of the election. There was an opportunity to win, but that got lost through a combination of factors. There were tactical decisions made by Labour, the Greens and Internet-Mana...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • From Fiji’s dictatorship to ‘democracy’ – the AUT student team on t...
    Mads Anneberg’s profile on Ricardo Morris and Repúblika. David Robie also blogs at Café Pacific. THREE STUDENTS from AUT University covered Fiji’s historic “from dictatorship to democracy” general election this month. While the election arguably legitimised Voreqe Bainimarama’s so-called 2006...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • David Cunliffe Resigns As Labour Leader – Forces Robertson Out of the Bel...
    David Cunliffe has made a smart move, resigning as the leader of the Labour Party so as to force a leadership primary campaign. The move draws rival Grant Robertson out of the beltway to parts of the country where he...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • Deep thought vs Deep prejudice
    . . This letter to the editor appeared in The Listener, on 27 September, and caught my attention; . . Mr Dawson wrote in response to one of those typically unthinking comments which  condemned the poor for their “unbridled, reckless...
    The Daily Blog | 27-09
  • The NZ National voters elected
    The NZ National voters elected...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Kate Davis – The post election postmortem is giving me post p...
    I feel the need to contribute to the discourse. This is a new experience for me. Not having an opinion, but expressing it on a popular forum in a public sphere. That’s why I have waited till now and put...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • A dictionary of education terms and definitions, brought to you by the let...
    Free to all TDB readers, please enjoy your very own cut-out-and-keep handy primer of terms that I predict you will need to know over the next three years… Achievement Gap (noun) Synonym for wealth gap. ACT (abstract noun) Intangible. Reported to exist in...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • A Mines Rescue brigadesman’s perspective on the Pike River Mine
    My husband and I lived in Greymouth in 2010, we were a coal mining family.  The day Pike River Mine blew up and the days following changed us profoundly, as it did for so many.  This is a Mines Rescue...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • The Left Triumphant! A Counterfactual History of the Last Twelve Months.
    DID IT REALLY HAVE TO END LIKE THIS? Reading through the commentary threads of the left-wing blogs it is impossible to not feel the anger; the sense of betrayal; the impression of having had something vital ripped from their grasp;...
    The Daily Blog | 26-09
  • GUEST BLOG – Myles Thomas: The media won it!
    Make no mistake, John Key is a clever communicator – reasonable, authoritative and relaxed – but without the media he wouldn’t be PM. Depending on your viewpoint, New Zealand’s news media are either a bunch of Grey Lynn lefties or...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • Not Learning Lessons Past: the West’s Response to IS
    In an earlier posting Ukraine, United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland, I noted that the first lesson of conflict learned by Robert McNamara was “understand your adversary”. If we have honourable objectives, our first and most important weapon is empathy. In the Vietnam War,...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Dr Jarrod Gilbert – Proof of David Farrar’s deception: my ...
    In the lead up to the election the Minister of Corrections Anne Tolley launched a gang policy. In order to justify the government’s approach she used gang figures that overstated the gang problem. Not by a little bit, but a...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • SPECIAL FEATURE: Stuart Nash – Red To The Rescue?
    SPECIAL FEATURE by Selwyn Manning. IF THE ELECTION RESULT which was dished out to Labour was not enough to incite an immediate leadership primary, then the caucus’ refusal to recognise David Cunliffe as the leader should cement it. Now is...
    The Daily Blog | 25-09
  • Has the one party state crackdown begun already? Left wing NZ activist grou...
    Well known left wing activist social media group, ‘John Key Has Left Down NZ’ has been shut down on Facebook. At 11.40pm last night, Facebook, without any warning shut the group down siting a breach of terms of service as...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • Why Cunliffe should probably just let Nash & Robertson win
    We have to face some very unpalatable home truths. If you are a left wing political person, best you put your vote now to the Green Party, although you’ll have to do that all the while the Greens frantically tell you...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • The graceless win of Kelvin Davis
    The graceless win of Cameron Slater’s mate in the North, Kelvin Davis is difficult to swallow. Here Cameron Slater’s mate in the North is shitting on Hone Harawira by calling Hone all steam, no hangi as Kelvin rubs his ganged up win into...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • So Labour shifted too far to the left?
    So Labour shifted too far to the left?   Here’s the ill-judged view of Josie Pagani in the Pundit “Labour must change”: “At the last election I made myself a heretic when I wrote a column mentioning how unpopular the...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • Uncomplicated Loyalties: Why Cunliffe and the Labour Left Cannot Win
    THE STORY of David Cunliffe’s leadership of the Labour Party has been one of missed opportunities and unforced errors. That he was the only choice available to those who wanted to rid the Labour Party of its neoliberal cuckoos is...
    The Daily Blog | 24-09
  • So we can expect this now?
    So we can expect this now?...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • Can Labour be saved? Why Whaleoil & National won and why we need a new ...
    As the shock of my optimism that NZers would recoil from the real John Key as exposed by Dirty Politics and mass surveillance duplicities wears off, I am surprised to find that the right in NZ are not content with...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • Three more years (up shit creek and paddling hard)
    “If the future is not green, there is no future. If the future is not you, there is no future”. Emma Thompson’s stirring words to the climate marchers in London last Sunday are worth considering in the aftermath of the...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • One Party State
    In years to come this election will be seen as a historic turning point towards one party rule. I don`t mean this literally, absolute single party dictatorship is not in prospect. In the New Zealand context though, one party has...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • No More. The Left Falls.
    . We cannot be beaten down Because we are down already. We can only rise up and if you should beat us down, We will rise again. And again. And again… And when you tire of beating us down, We...
    The Daily Blog | 23-09
  • Hang tight everyone – Marama Davidson campaign reflection
    To the many people who had expressed their overwhelming support for me to enter Parliament this election – thank you. That the Greens held steady in a big loss for progressive politics is an achievement. We are hopeful that after...
    The Daily Blog | 22-09
  • How You Can Help the Homeless
    At any one time, there are an estimated 357 homeless people in Central Auckland alone, many enduring hardships beyond the rain, wind and cold of sleeping rough. October 10 is World Homeless Day when the public are invited to learn...
    Scoop politics | 02-10
  • Over 20% of Gold Production Now Pledged to Kiwifruit Claim
    Kiwifruit growers representing over 20% of New Zealand gold kiwifruit production have already pledged to join The Kiwifruit Claim, the chairman of the claim’s grower committee, John Cameron, said today....
    Scoop politics | 02-10
  • ‘Creepy’ Decision on Up-Skirt Filming Slammed
    Family First NZ says that a discharge without conviction given to a man who filmed up a woman's dress in a Wellington department store is a ‘creepy’ decision that should concern all people who value their privacy. “This decision by...
    Scoop politics | 02-10
  • Speaker leads delegation to CPA Conference
    Strengthening New Zealand’s ties with parliaments from across the world will be the focus of the upcoming delegation to the 60th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Conference in Yaoundé, Cameroon from 4-10 October and the 131st Inter-Parliamentary...
    Scoop politics | 02-10
  • Response to Russell Brown and Tertiary Education Union
    The allegation that I have worked with others to discredit public health efforts is wrong. My public comments in relation to public health researchers have been where academics have mislead the public about official support or endorsement, and where...
    Scoop politics | 02-10
  • 17 jobs lost as Bridon/Cookes reaches the end of its rope
    Seventeen workers at the iconic Bridon/Cookes wire rope company in Auckland are to be made redundant as the company ceases production in New Zealand. The company has blamed the high New Zealand dollar for making it uncompetitive to keep the...
    Scoop politics | 02-10
  • Slip in University Rankings – Funding Not the Problem
    Responding to the slippage of New Zealand universities' rankings , Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says:...
    Scoop politics | 02-10
  • Time to rethink police chases, says safety campaigner
    Police chases are dangerous and generally unnecessary, says the American Federal Bureau of Investigation....
    Scoop politics | 02-10
  • Robertson now expected to be Labour leader by Xmas
    Grant Robertson is now overwhelmingly picked to become the next leader of the Labour Party by the end of the year, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealand’s predictions market, iPredict. Another potential Labour...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Documenting historic Māori land law cases for the first time
    A new book from Victoria University of Wellington’s Faculty of Law will continue to put the spotlight on Māori Land Law judgments which have never before been published....
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • ‘Oily’ people greet Petroleum Summit diners
    Greenpeace activists smeared in fake oil have greeted guests arriving at the part-Statoil sponsored Petroleum Summit dinner this evening....
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Key Decisions Made About Labour’s Leadership Election
    Labour’s New Zealand Council has made the key decisions about the timetable and process around the election of Labour’s Party Leader. The result will be announced on Tuesday 18th November, following a comprehensive and extensive process unique...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Suspected $6 Million Dollar Wananga Fraud Alarming
    The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on on the Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi to front up over claims the Wananga has pocketed government overpayments amounting to $6 million of taxpayers' money. Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Submissions sought on herbicide for weed control in maize
    The Environmental Protection Authority is calling for submissions on a herbicide to improve broadleaf weed control in maize. The substance CADET contains 100g fluthiacet-methyl in the form of an emulsifiable concentrate and would contain a new active ingredient...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Jesse Mulligan Lives Below Poverty Line
    Jesse Mulligan Lives Below Poverty Line TV personality Jesse Mulligan will live on the equivalent of the extreme poverty line this October in order to raise awareness of sex trafficking. Mulligan will survive on $2.25 for his food from October...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Narratives from the 2014 Election: What do we learn?
    Narratives from the 2014 Election: What do we learn? - Sue Bradford, Russell Brown & Kirk Serpes discuss....
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Voices from Oceania to speak out on climate change
    Voices from Oceania to speak out on climate change at launch of Pacific environment report...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Changes to Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre messages
    The Ministry of Civil Defence & Emergency Management advises that while changes to Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre messages come into effect from today (Wednesday 1 October), the Ministry has been, and remains, the authoritative voice for tsunami...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Police remove banner at Statoil Offices in Wellington
    Oil Free Wellington hung a banner at 9:30 this morning at the Statoil office headquarters in Wellington as the Petroleum Summit opened in Auckland. The banner, which read 'Statoil out of Northland: Stop Deep Sea Oil', has now been removed...
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Mixed massages raise concerns
    Mixed massages raise concerns for Te Taumata Kaumatua Ngapuhi nui tonu, and Te Wakaminenga O nga Hapu Ngapuhi....
    Scoop politics | 01-10
  • Union Slams Port Boss’s Pay Rise
    The Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) says Lyttelton Port CEO Peter Davie’s 18% wage rise, taking his pay packet to $1.24m, is unjustified and inflammatory. ‘Lyttelton port has an appalling health and safety record, with three deaths on...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Prisons expert Ron Nikkel to speak in Auckland October 15
    Prison Fellowship NZ and JustSpeak have the privilege of hosting the former president of Prison Fellowship International, Ron Nikkel....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Hundreds of educators protest IES in Rotorua
    Four hundred educators from around the country took their opposition to the Government's controversial Investing in Educational Success policy to the public today....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Crime drops by 3.2 % in the 2013 / 2014 financial year
    Criminal offences dropped by 3.2 % in the last financial year according to figures released today through Statistics New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Narratives from the 2014 Election: what do we learn?
    I would like to invite you to a Fabians Reflection on "Dirty Politics, Dotcom and Labour’s worst result" with Colin James, Keith Ng, Stephanie Rodgers and Richard Harman. They will provide a debrief of analysis and lessons from the 2014...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Oil Free Wellington drops banner from Statoil headquarters
    Today members of Oil Free Wellington have targeted the offices of Statoil, by attaching a banner reading 'Statoil out of Northland: Stop Deep Sea Oil' to the entrance of Vodafone on the Quay Midland Park, where Statoil's New Zealand office...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Media Statement from Karen Price
    “After a period of intense media attention and scrutiny of our family, I set up and used an anonymous Twitter account over the weekend and made a number of comments that I deeply regret....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Greenpeace disrupts Simon Bridges’ speech to oil industry
    Greenpeace activists have disrupted the opening speech by Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges at the Petroleum Summit in Auckland this morning....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • New Zealand Red Cross Responds to Drought in Tonga
    New Zealand Red Cross has sent an aid worker and two desalination units, to turn seawater into safe drinking water in the drought-hit Ha’apai islands of Tonga....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Can you ever tell if an email is real or forged?
    Computer industry veteran Brian Eardley-Wilmot warns that we should never take claims about stolen emails at face value....
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • NZ MPs to attend the ASPG Annual Conference in Sydney
    New Zealand MPs to attend the Australasian Study of Parliament Group Annual Conference in Sydney...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Independent Maori seats still needed in Parliament
    “He’s got to be joking!” is the reaction of the president of the Maori Party, Rangimarie Naida Glavish to a call by a former Labour Minister of Maori Affairs, Dover Samuels, for debate by Maori on whether the Maori electorates...
    Scoop politics | 30-09
  • Support for Democratic Rights in Hong Kong
    Rallies supporting the rights for universal suffrage will take place all over New Zealand today and tomorrow...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Trout Mass-Poisoned in New Zealand
    Trout Mass-Poisoned in New Zealand The Graf Boys New Zealand has some of the best trout fishing in the world! Every year thousands of international visitors wade pristine rivers in search of the freshwater game fish....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • New Zealand’s 2014 Hottest Vegetarians Crowned
    With winter gone things are heating up, and things just got even hotter with the crowning of New Zealand’s hottest vegetarians, says animal advocacy group SAFE. Marking World Vegetarian Day, 1st October, director James Napier Robertson and actor...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • A day to remember our duty to look after our senior citizens
    Human Rights Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue says International Day of the Older Person (1 October) is a United Nations day to celebrate our senior citizens, but also acknowledge the need to protect our kaumatua, or older people from abuse and...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Clear data needed on impact of benefit sanctions on children
    A lack of data on benefit sanctions means there is no way of knowing whether welfare reform is helping or harming children, says Child Poverty Action Group....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • The socialist alternative to austerity and war
    Public meeting: After the New Zealand election—the socialist alternative to austerity and war By Tom Peters 29 September 2014...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • New recruits to boost border protection
    Twenty six new recruits began an intensive nine-week training course in Auckland today that will see them graduate as Customs officers in time for the busy summer season....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Dwindling Mallard population shows up ‘pest’ myth
    The pro hunting organisation Fish & Game is researching the causes of the decline of the mallard duck population, upset at the prospect of fewer ducks to kill....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Support for Democratic Rights in Hong Kong
    New Zealanders in Auckland will gather on Wednesday to support the rights for universal suffrage in Hong Kong....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Campbell Live Exclusive Interview with David Cunliffe
    David Cunliffe resigned as leader of the Labour party on Saturday; but he still wants the top job....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Action needed on cycling safety
    “Clearly we aren't doing enough to protect the 1.5 million New Zealanders who ride bikes,” said Mr Morgan....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • World Rivers Day Passes Without A Whimper
    Sunday 28 September was World Rivers Day to celebrate clean, flowing rivers and caring about them. But a recreation-conservation advocacy the Council of Outdoor Recreation Associations of NZ (CORANZ) says the day seems to have slipped by without...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • The Kiwifruit Claim: Q&A
    1. Who is running The Kiwifruit Claim? The Kiwifruit Claim was founded by kiwifruit growers representing well in excess of 10% of the industry. 2. Why are you running this claim? The introduction of Psa into New Zealand had devastating...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Fed Farmers Need to Be Weaned
    The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on Federated Farmers to make a firm commitment to reject any future Government funding, after it was revealed that the lobby group had received over $200,000 of payments in recent years....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Children paying the price for charter school stitch up
    New Zealand children will be paying a high price for a one-seat deal between ACT and National, with an expansion of the beleaguered charter school system says education union NZEI Te Riu Roa....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Hikoi From North Reaches Oil Conference Tomorrow
    Today: The Hikoi opposing Statoil plans for seismic testing and deep sea oil drilling has marched through Dargaville and later be welcomed to Piringatahi Marae, West Harbour,Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland....
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Communities Still Count
    The efforts of many organisations to influence the electorate and the political parties they voted for in the lead up to the 2014 Election is over. The voting public has spoken and provided a strong endorsement to the centre-right National...
    Scoop politics | 29-09
  • Eleven social enterprises get ready to take off
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lprent: At the request of Tim Barnett, Labour's returning officer, the Karen Price/Clayton Cosgrove post has been withdrawn during the primary.