Brave whistleblower in Ministry of Education

Written By: - Date published: 1:54 pm, November 9th, 2010 - 69 comments
Categories: education, national - Tags: , , ,

Kelvin Smythe is a long standing educationalist and the driving force behind the Developmental Network Magazine. Kelvin still comments on educational matters (ht: ianmac), but the magazine has become a blog, Networkonnet. His latest entry is an interesting read:

Revolt in ministry

There has been a revolt in the ministry.

On Friday, a senior ministry official from the Auckland office refused, on moral grounds, to take instruction from Karen Sewell to organise ministry officials to ring schools about their declared stance on national standards. …

There were scenes of consternation in the Auckland office and, judging from the communications received from Karen Sewell, near panic in the Wellington one.

The Auckland office was supposed to swing into action with the first stages of the ‘Escalation Process when Schools are Not Implementing National Standards’. (A copy was obtained under the Official Information Act.) The first stage involves ringing up the principal and board of trustees in a manner deliberately intended to be threatening. The action of the senior ministry official meant the bureaucratic stand-over tactics were seriously delayed in Auckland. …

It is clear the brave senior ministry official is well informed as are most principals about the harm national standards (of any stripe) do to children. The literature from overseas is indisputable. …

That senior ministry official also knows the ‘Escalation’ process for what it is – bureaucratic bullying, and anti-New Zealand.

Shame on you Sewell and Chamberlain: all hail the senior ministry official. May your example further inspire us.

I’ll add my vote of thanks to the unnamed official who is not prepared to participate in this shameful campaign. It is bravely done. So much easier to keep your head down and “just follow orders”. But these orders are wrong. National standards are likely to damage children and they are being forced down our throats by a dangerously deluded government.

240 schools so far have said no, and now there is internal dissent in the Ministry.

Who’s next?

69 comments on “Brave whistleblower in Ministry of Education”

  1. grumpy 1

    Chalk up “1” for the new public service sinking lid policy.

    • Kaplan 1.1

      I think you meant

      chalk up 1 for the new public service “sinking lid” policy.

      Still a piece of rubbish really but moving the quotes makes the sentiment clearer.

  2. Hilary 2

    I feel sorry for the Ministry officials (including Karen Sewell and Mary Chamberlain) who are having to do the government’s bidding on this. I’m sure all of them know it is a seriously flawed policy but it’s the sort of ethical compromising public servants have to do these days.

    Are public servants there to serve the public or their ministers? At the moment it seems the ministers are demanding total allegiance and too bad if the public suffers (in this case little kids being told they are educational failures because they don’t learn in the prescribed standards method).

    • Swampy 2.1

      It is their job to do what they are employed to do. It is no different from your boss giving you instructions. Nothing to be sorry about. As Government employees it is clear who they serve.

  3. Fabregas4 3

    I don’t feel sorry for Sewell – she is on record as saying to Principals that if they philosophically oppose National Standards then they can always leave teaching – or Chamberlain who is also on record as saying that she believes in the Standards and as she is so close to retirement she wouldn’t stick around if she thought they were damaging to children.

    Both are in privileged positions that enable them to talk to the Minister about the flaws in this system, neither chose to do so and both sold their educational souls to protect themselves.

    When Tolley’s house of cards tumbles she will go looking for scapegoats – then I might pity them.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Sewell and Chamberlain are sell outs. And as more brave people come forwards to stand up against Tolley’s BS, it is going to be more and more clear that Sewell and Chamberlain are cowards willing to act as paid overseers against their own colleagues in education.

  5. Crumble 5

    I was told by Lester Flockton at a talk he gave about National Standards that when it was changed from the Department of Education to the Ministry of Educatuiion he was told “A Ministry is there to support the Minister”

    • grumpy 5.1

      Which is obviously correct. After all, the Minister has ultimate responsibility to the taxpayers.

      Or are you saying that the Ministry employees actually set government policy? That would not be acceptable to any government.

      • Crumble 5.1.1

        No, I’m not saying that. I saying that instead of promoting and supporting the education in the country they have to kowtow to the whims of a minister.

        • Bright Red 5.1.1.1

          and how seriously public servants take that duty is witnessed in the fact that this dumbarse government manages to get any of its dumb policies implemented at all

        • Swampy 5.1.1.2

          It is the role of the government to govern. We elect governments for this purpose.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.1.2

        The ministry is there to do the research that the minister then makes informed decisions upon. What’s happening in this NACT government is that the ministers are making ideological decisions and telling the ministries to implement it and to ignore the research.

        What this causes, of course, is bad government that trashes our country, our economy and our democracy.

      • Daveosaurus 5.1.3

        “the Minister has ultimate responsibility to the taxpayers.”

        And the boards of trustees have ultimate responsibility to the parents. As it’s the parents whose children’s education are at stake here, perhaps they should be listened to, for a change?

  6. Jim Nald 6

    The public service, or civil service, is staffed by public servants who are there to advise the Ministers of the Crown and to serve the people.
    Under this NACT Government, an element of their function to serve the public has been gradually eroded. We are now witnessing greater politicisation of the public service and we see more of the side of public servants where they are being turned into ministerial slaves.
    The NACTs just do not respect the appropriate roles of government and people should be rightly pissed off.

    • Swampy 6.1

      Rubbish. The role of the public service is to implement government policy. The government decides what the policy is. This is not “Yes Minister”.

      • lprent 6.1.1

        Teachers are not the “public service”. They are employees of their schools. Their schools get grants to provide a service to the public. They are rather like an organisation like Womans Refuge which has much the same grant-board-employee structure. About the only thing that makes them ‘civil servants’ is that through a very round about approach they are paid for by taxes.

        The particular type of public servant you are thinking of are known as the core public service. It is a quite small group of about 3000 (from vague recollection) who are covered by some quite specific laws and guidelines, including restrictions against criticizing government policy in public. Teachers are not in that group.

        Teachers are not employed to implement “public policy”. They are actually employed to implement the policy of the boards of trustees – usually specifically to teach children.

        I think that you’ve been watching too much TV (or staring into your navel far too much) because you’re getting more simplistic the more I read your comment streams.. You seem to think that everyone apart from yourself should be a slave. You seem to think of yourself as a slave owner?

  7. Anne 7

    The senior ministry official is indeed a very brave person. In due course, I look forward to hearing what ‘punishment’ is meted out to him for his subversive behaviour. As a former whistle blower (of sorts) from the 90s, I can imagine his present discomfort. I hope I’m wrong but if my own experience is an indication, fear of reprisal against them will ensure he doesn’t get a lot of support from his colleagues.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Damn, people have forgotten the lessons of solidarity too quickly.

      These timid, indebted people. The capitalists really know what they are doing in hamstringing people huh.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      EDUCATION, SOCIAL CHANGE, AND THE FUTURE
      Same link, easier to read format.

      • Garth 8.1.1

        THanks.

        • ianmac 8.1.1.1

          Fantastic thanks Garth. It is a lot easier and more convincing to argue from a behavioural belief. Thus if you standardise the steps and the testing with it, it follows that the learners will come out at the right level. Obvious they say, hence the National Standards.

          But to explain a constructivist way of learning where the learner learns at his own pace and by a variety of means and who is involved in setting and answering his own questions, and developing connectivity is much harder. Yet it is exactly the way that kids learn especially in the first five years. And should continue to do so.
          Kelvin Smythe is vocal and well informed though he thinks that Prof Hattie has sold out. Me too.

          • df 8.1.1.1.1

            My children’s school uses inquiry learning and choice theory as central to their teaching and learning philosophy. This is in line with the divergent approach mentioned in this video. Our school is also using NS in a positive way to reinforce the underpinning literacy and numeracy skills people need to participate in the community to their full potential. Looking good, in theory 🙂

            • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.1.1.1

              No, too cheery and unrealistic an outlook, which school are you referring to please. And what is your background in education, you obviously have involvement with the sector.

              df = david farrar fan?

              • df

                Ha ha, yes I chose my user name based on a blogger and have a t-shirt to boot plus his photo on my wall. No, they are my initials which just happen to be the same as a whole lot of other people.

                Sorry, I won’t name the school as I don’t think that is appropriate. My opinions are just that and you can take them at face value or otherwise. Completely up to you.

                I have been involved in education in a variety of capacities over a 20 year period both here and overseas.

  8. Fisiani 9

    National standards are like a thermometer. They give an indication. In them-self they are neither negative nor positive. They simply indicate educational progress or not.
    What scares unionised incompetent teachers is that national standards may make apparent to some parents that their children are ‘febrile’ and they will then demand treatment of their child’s illiteracy or numeracy deficits.
    Ignorance is NOT bliss. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
    Those who have something to hide are in for a shock.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      National standards are like a thermometer.

      *Gufffaw*

      Those who have something to hide are in for a shock.

      Tolley’s attempt to control and divide schools by stealth has been found out and I think she is the one shocked now.

      What scares unionised incompetent teachers is that national standards may make apparent to some parents that their children are ‘febrile’

      Who is feeding you this fevered shite?

      One major problem with National Standards, and you have implied it in your post, is that it will is sucking up school resources but yet will do nothing to boost the academic performance of children even as it tries to enforce some kind of artificial conformity on children. And NS seems more primarily a scheme – as you have apparently accepted – to discredit and control teachers more than anything else.

    • D14 9.2

      Nice anaolgy. Fisi.
      BUT how do you measure the temperature? Buy a thermometer.

      What does the temperature mean. Do people agree what is meant by temperature.
      How do you make sure the temperature you record is the same by all measurers and all place.
      On the centigrade scale the 0 point is defined as the melting of water and the boiling point of water is 100, and then the scale is divided to 100 parts.

      But there is more – If the water is not pure there will be a variation in the mp and the bp. The other factor is the air pressure. So if the 100 point is made in Tibet the scale will be different.
      So the standard has to include the air pressure and purity of the water.
      That was achieved by agreement of the community of scientists quite a long time ago.

      So the temperature that you record on the thermometer has to be valid – measure what you think it is measuring by agreement.
      It has to be reliable- Repeated measurement have to be the same.
      And the results to be consistent between measurers has to be moderated, so they are recording the the same thing.
      Temperature is relatively easy.

      Now where can I buy my National Standards ‘thermometer’ that is valid, reliable and properly moderated.

    • ianmac 9.3

      I do know that you are just a stirrer Fisini but you do know that the existing tests are used in order to put against the National Standards? Therefore it is already known where a child fits in. For example a PAT says that a child is at the 54% in Reading. PAT has been around since 1987. Take that score and fit it against NS. Catch is that the NS are so wooly they might be taken to mean anything. It shows Fisiani of course that you don’t know or have no intention of knowing.

      • Roflcopter 9.3.1

        The NS isn’t “wooly”.

        The standard clearly defines what a child should be able to achieve at their age in reading, writing and maths. They’re either at that level, below, or above it.

        • Colonial Viper 9.3.1.1

          National’s standardisation for standardised production line cookie cutout kids. It will allow each child to be Quality Control stamped with a “passed” or a “failed” stamp, year after year after year.

          It a perfect system for the command and control Rightwing.

          Tolley’s poor judgement is now legendary. Her time is drawing to a close.

          • Roflcopter 9.3.1.1.1

            Where does it say “passed” or “failed”? Below the average isn’t a fail, and the reporting by the teacher gives clear guidelines on actions that can be taken to raise their level.

            • Fabregas4 9.3.1.1.1.1

              It’s not below an average but whether a child has reached “an aspirational goal’. If you don’t reach it – you have failed – the words are ‘below the Standard”. The capacity to identify groups or individuals who may have been miles below but are subsequently just below is not built into this system. Neither is there any capacity for identifying those way above the Standard. They are one of three categories- that is all.

            • Colonial Viper 9.3.1.1.1.2

              OK, not ‘Failed’ then, ‘Below the Standard’ as Fabre said.

              Which pretty much = ‘Failure’ (or if you prefer, ‘Below the Standard needed to be considered a Pass’)

          • df 9.3.1.1.2

            I doubt very much that teachers will take such an approach to communicating with students. Literacy and numeracy are just part of a broad set of skills which teachers develop in students and therefore wouldn’t you agree it would be quite damaging for a teacher to use language such as “pass” or “fail”? All individuals have differing strengths and weaknesses at different times in their development so shouldn’t the language be about progress towards something? My son for instance is not particularly strong in his computer studies and is in the lower half of the class, we know this, he knows this, so he is working a bit harder in that area because we all know these skills are necessary – he is only 11 so he hasn’t “failed” at anything, however he is progressing toward some point. Yes, for sure, at some stage his teacher will make a judgement and at that time we would be looking at whether or not more work is required or or perhaps a different approach might be needed.

            • Colonial Viper 9.3.1.1.2.1

              So…did National Standards help you identify that your son has weaknesses in computer studies?

              Because your description of how teachers should approach individual pupils and how they can resolve to make additional efforts, happens perfectly *without* the complication and cost of NS.

              • df

                That’s a good point…actually since our school decided to work with NS it has sharpened communication with parents across the board so, yes, I think it is reasonable to say that the introduction of NS did help, albeit indirectly, identify the low PC literacy level. A slight culture shift perhaps.

                I don’t know about other schools but I do know that prior to this year we were not given very clear feedback, next steps, or “how to” so I wouldn’t describe it as previously happening perfectly. This is our 4th year with this school (2 kids there) and the parent / teacher evenings and reporting seem to have become more focused on what that our kids need to work on. It is almost like it is now OK to talk about our kids weaknesses and what we can all do to support them (not teachers alone) which is a breath of fresh air. Easy to identify a problem…often more difficult to find a solution, right?

                Personally I don’t really care where my kids are versus other kids but I do want to know if they are on track to achieving at a level which will give them a good foundation to build on in the future. So far NS appears to have enabled this, early days but a fair start I’d say.

                • Colonial Viper

                  But what unique new educational capabilities has NS introduced?

                  The school talked to you more? Or “sharpened” as you put it, whatever that means? Thats it? They could have done that for free.

                  Personally I don’t really care where my kids are versus other kids

                  Then NS is a particularly wasteful use of teacher time and resources.

                  • df

                    When I said sharpened I meant that the information and conversations had become more focused on what my kids can and cannot do and what the next steps should be.

                    You are right, they could have done this for free but they didn’t – at least in my case they didn’t. It is still early days, I think we need to consider the long game on this one. My hope is that over time people become more aware of the type of literacy and numeracy skills needed to provide a good foundation for their futures and, most importantly, what we (collective “we” not just teachers) can do to ensure as many people as possible have those skills.

                    I don’t think that my personal view qualifies as evidence of whether the spending on NS is wasteful or not. The jury will be out on that one for some time I suspect.

        • Fabregas4 9.3.1.2

          They are woolly alright because they hinge on a concept called Overall Teacher Judgement which will vary from classroom to classroom to some degree. This doesn’t matter too much until the assessment becomes high stakes – i.e. a child or school is rated on it. Then it is a real problem because decisions will be made based on dodgy data (don’t think for one moment that this is related to teachers trying to protect themselves from criticism or review – it is not, though review based on this form of data is also problematic).

          Try to think about it this way – you get a piece of children’s writing and you try to level it based on about 15 criteria including: the message, words used, personal voice, spelling, paragraphing, structure, use of simile and metaphor, it’s opening and ending- everyone weighs these items differently and comes up with slightly (or sometimes major) differences in ‘best fit’. One will say below standard, another at standard, another above based on their view. Do this across the country and lump the data together and you can see (even you doubters I bet) that the data is fundamentally flawed.

          Better to have real in school Professional Development that lifts teachers ability to teach than to assess, approximately level kids, and do nothing. But (big sigh) this is all being cut and from 2011 Team Solutions who provide much of teacher Professional Development will, so I understand be cast adrift.

          Anyone who is anyone in education knows this stuff, and that National’s Standards simply won’t do anything that Tolley has said they would. What a laugh that the latest attack is that teachers, principals and Boards are opposed to NS on ideological grounds – the whole dam mess is on ideological grounds – the government put the children last and our world leading education system would, short of the brave and principled stand by BOT’s be at risk.

          By the way my school, so I am informed, won’t get PD funding next year because our achievement levels are too high – I for the life of me can’t understand how someone somewhere in the system can know this but not know school’s who need extra help – without the need for National’s Standards!

          Just utter rubbish from a rubbish Minister and a rubbish government.

          • Roflcopter 9.3.1.2.1

            The overall teacher judgement is based on existing testing regimes and the determination of not just 1 teacher, but a peer review process as well.

            It cannot be fudged, because the underlying existing testing supports the judgement. You can’t say a child is above average if existing testing clearly shows they are not, and vice versa.

            • Fabregas4 9.3.1.2.1.1

              You know little about assessment Rolf. It is not a moment in time or a single assessment it is a series of assessments and observations taken over a length of time. Moderation has been off the National Standards agenda for some time (since Mrs Tolley was embarrassed in the house about it)

          • ianmac 9.3.1.2.2

            ….our achievement levels are too high – I for the life of me can’t understand how someone somewhere in the system can know this but not know school’s who need extra help – without the need for National’s Standards!
            Exactly Fabregas4 ! And how come they know that there are 20% underachieving already long before National Standards were conceived? (I do not think there are 20% in the underachieving group anyway. Nearer 7% depending where you draw the line.)

    • Swampy 9.4

      Correct. Schools assess their performance using data that up until now they have not had to report to the ministry.

  9. ianmac 10

    df: Personally I don’t really care where my kids are versus other kids but I do want to know if they are on track to achieving at a level which will give them a good foundation to build on in the future. So far NS appears to have enabled this, early days but a fair start I’d say.
    Well said df. You have nailed what really matters.
    What can my kid do now?
    What progress has he made?
    Is there anything I can do to help?
    National Standards do not make this difference. Normal testing and observation does.
    It is irrelevant how he ranks with the other kids.
    Sometimes it is not in the interest of the child to be too specific with some parents especially the ones who are competing with the parents of other kids. These kids are sometimes so anxious about performing to parental expectations that it can seriously inhibit their learning. Ironic really.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      I rather believe df is running the story of how very user friendly he has found National Standards personally, applied to one classroom, although the relevance of that experience to a nation wide programme is questionable.

      In theory you shouldn’t have to explain any of this to df, further up the thread he has already said he is highly experienced in the education sector in various roles.

      • df 10.1.1

        Absolutely Viper, I am sharing one person’s view of a very narrow (and early) experience so there is no way anyone could say it is reflective of the situation elsewhere. So much of the NS debate seems to be based on assumptions (kids will be damaged, teachers will be distracted from core tasks, curriculum will be narrowed, league tables will surface, teachers will be blamed, govt won’t provide funds etc etc) when we really just don’t know.

        Ianmac – yep, it is important that kids not be made too anxious about their learning – students need to be encouraged and motivated and I believe teachers are (or should be) capable of achieving this.

        • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1

          So much of the NS debate seems to be based on assumptions (kids will be damaged, teachers will be distracted from core tasks, curriculum will be narrowed, league tables will surface, teachers will be blamed, govt won’t provide funds etc etc) when we really just don’t know.

          Well, down to the truth at last. Its good to have your conclusions as an experienced education sector professional that National Standards is a mass nationwide experiment.

          • df 10.1.1.1.1

            I think describing NS as a mass nationwide experiment is bit ott Viper. Would make a good tabloid headline though. This is my first time posting here so I am not sure of the lay of the land. Is this your blog?

            • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1.1.1

              “…when we really just don’t know.”

              A mass experiment conducted on the education of young NZ children. You are the experienced education professional, and this is your conclusion. Thanks again for your input.

              • df

                Gee Viper you are desperate. Way to dumb down and hijack an important discussion. Good luck in your quest although I am not sure what your objectives are.

                • Swampy

                  All the NS are doing is requiring schools to report their data to the Ministry when they didn’t before. It is not materially different from the way in which assessment is already carried out in schools.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Meh, more Rightie falsehoods. It would be SUPRE LAME if Tolley was spending so many hours fighting so hard for a central plank of her portfolio, and launching threats in all directions if indeed

                    It is not materially different from the way in which assessment is already carried out in schools

                    Did I mention National Stds would be even more lame?

  10. Garth 11

    A couple of actual facts:
    The average kid is average. Half of all kids are better learners than average, half are worse.
    Likewise the average teacher is average, with half being better than average, and half worse.
    Nothing whatever we do about raising the standards of teaching or testing the kids will ever change these facts – they are mathematically proven.
    A probable fact: NZ has one of the best performing education systems in the world.
    Question: Why don’t we ask the people who currently deliver one of the best performing education systems in the world how they would continue to improve it?
    Probable answer: Because we don’t want to (or can’t) provide what they’ll recommend – more professional development, less bureaucratic bullshit, more resources.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      Half of all kids are better learners than *the median*, half are worse.

      sorry stats Nazi here. But spot on 😀

      • ianmac 11.1.1

        So therefore up to half will always be “below the Standard”. What a waste of time that will be since the median must stay regardless of the level of the bar.

        When my kids were younger the school they went to had a report booklet with a double page for each year.
        Column one Achievement in each subject 1 – 5 with 5 being in the bottom 5%, 1 being top 5%.
        Column two Effort in each subject A – D
        Places for teacher comments.
        Simple. Easy to follow year on year. Just like NS? Catch was that the means of defining each score was very uncertain way back then. And teachers felt compelled to not lower the scores from previous years. And it did not help the kids who were 4s or 5s.

      • billy fish 11.1.2

        “sorry stats Nazi here. But spot on”

        Oooohhh can I invoke Godwins?

    • Swampy 11.2

      How about less grandstanding and politicisation by the teachers unions

      Bring in bulk funding and performance pay.

  11. grumpy 12

    Back to the original post, I don’t think this guy actually qualifies as a “whistle blower” and certainly not “brave” as we don’t know their name.

    Either this is a beat up, or just some employee embarking on a career limiting exercise by not following a direction from his/her employer because of some personal political viewpoint.

  12. Tiger Mountain 13

    Good thinking 99 (aka Grump), the old reduce everything to an abstraction trick. It is truly appalling though the Chamberlain “following orders” schtick.

  13. Swampy 14

    Kelvin Smythe is a hard left extremist who left the education system he was employed in more than 20 years ago so that he could become a critic of it. How credible is that.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      Hard left = cares about children’s futures as citizens and members of civil society, as opposed to treating them as low cost value adding labour units for capitalist enterprises.

      Seems ok to me.

      • Swampy 14.1.1

        No it means politics matters more. It means he opposed tomorrow’s schools. Opposed by the hard core in the education unions because they don’t like being accountable to elected boards and especially not parent communities.

  14. Garth 15

    Teachers are not government employees – Boards of Trustees are the employers of record for all teaching and non-teaching staff.
    That said, Boards must work within a set of laws and regulations, and Boards have no real role in negotiating teachers’ salaries and most of the terms of their employment.
    This is a carefully-designed structure to allow government to maintain a great deal of control over schools, but at the same time to be able to stand behind Boards of Trustees when it suits them.
    No different in principle to how District Health Boards are set up.

  15. Swampy 16

    The magazine has become a blog. I guess no one wanted to buy the magazine any more.

    • lprent 16.1

      It is a *lot* cheaper to publish on the net. Gets rid of all of those printing and distribution costs. You charge for the login, or like here don’t bother to charge at all.

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    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 days ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    2 days ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    3 days ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    3 days ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    3 days ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    4 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    5 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    6 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    6 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    7 days ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    7 days ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago

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