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Catriona MacLennan takes on the Law Society

Written By: - Date published: 6:16 pm, April 19th, 2018 - 49 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, censorship, domestic violence, law, uncategorized - Tags:

Last week Catriona MacLennan, a lawyer and media commentator, wrote a piece published at newsroom about disciplinary action being taken against her by the Law Society.  I won’t put large excerpts here, as I think it’s important to go there and read the whole thing, especially the details of her experiences as a woman lawyer.

In short, she was asked by the NZ Herald to make comments on the statements of a judge who had “granted a discharge without conviction to a man who had assaulted his wife, a male friend and his daughter.”  The statements of the judge were dismissive of the seriousness of the offence, possibly using that old trope that catching your wife cheating on you was enough to drive a man insane and excuse any crime of violence he might commit.  Women, of course, don’t get any such leeway and until the 20th century a wife could not use evidence of her husband’s adultery to get a divorce.  It’s similar to the notion that a man could be excused for committing violence against another man who made a pass at him.

The removal of the “provocation” defense was supposed to change this kind of thinking, particularly in the courts.  But clearly the Queenstown judge was having none of it, stating “Really, this is a situation that does your wife no credit and does the [male] no credit” and “There would be many people who would have done exactly what you did, even though it may be against the law to do so.”

Because Catriona made comment in the media, this is apparently grounds for the National Standards Committee of the Law Society to begin a disciplinary hearing.  The same Law Society that has failed to take any disciplinary action against lawyers who commit sexual assault and harassment, because no-one has ever filed a for disciplinary proceedings.  This committee would have seen and heard all the media reports regarding Russell McVeagh, and one would hope was working on some disciplinary action around that.

I can imagine it would be less than ideal if all lawyers went to the media and started slamming judges for their ruling and sentences.  I understand that the Law Society would want to maintain the integrity of the justice system, and the part lawyers play in it, and therefore it wouldn’t be useful to undermine the judiciary by going after them when a lawyer loses their case.  I can imagine that being a judge is a tough job, and judges have to make some difficult calls.

But there are times when judges make decisions and statements that are so beyond the pale that they need to be called up on it.  A trained and qualified lawyer who has experience practicing in that particular area of law (Catriona having “21 years of commentary on domestic violence”) would surely be the best person to make comment.  The Law Society and their disciplinary committee have discretion over cases they would take forward process, at least according to this page.

It is inconceivable to me that someone of the stature, courage, experience, advocacy and expertise of Catriona would be put through this.  It looks like nothing but silencing.  Out of interest, I would love to see what the gender (and ethnic) make-up of this committee is, because it’s very hard not to see this as the old-boys network protecting their own.

The other thing that really strikes me about this whole issue is the lack of prominence it’s been getting.  This is a freedom of speech issue, and yet the usual suspects who make lots of noise about freedom of speech are not so vocal – although I may have missed it.  Last year there was an open letter about freedom of speech being in danger at our universities, and it would be lovely if those 27 “high-profile New Zealanders” might have something to say about the kind of suppression that is happening here.  It seems to me that the freedom-of-speech advocates tend only to be vocal when it’s the current power structures and systems that are threatened to be upheld.  They tend not to be so loud protecting the free speech rights of marginalised groups.

Well here’s your chance, people.  Catriona has every right to make comment about a judgement and a judge who has done what this one did.  The Law Society really needs to take a good hard look at itself here, and make meaningful change.

[Photo from here]

49 comments on “Catriona MacLennan takes on the Law Society”

  1. Matthew Whitehead 1

    Newsroom is still looking into this issue, btw, with a follow-up story into other judges also demonstrating less-than-qualified opinions on domestic violence:

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/04/18/105481/family-court-judges-comments-ludicrous

    This is an urgent problem. If our judges in the family court don’t understand how domestic violence works, they’re not qualified to hear the most critical cases.

    • stargazer 1.1

      yes, and this piece at newsroom is also excellent: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2018/04/16/104977/benedict-tompkins

      it’s well known that judges need a lot more training. apparently district court judges got some in 2015: https://nzfvc.org.nz/news/judges-receive-professional-development-family-violence

      and there was funding announced last year for court staff & prosecutors, as well as judiciary to get training on sexual violence: https://nzfvc.org.nz/news/funding-sexual-violence-training-judges-and-legal-professionals

      but judges need to be called out when they are blatantly getting it wrong. and someone like catriona needs to be able to do so without being pulled through disciplinary proceedings.

      • Matthew Whitehead 1.1.1

        Yep. It’s a good case that we need to repeal the provision about “scandalizing the court” given that lawyers are honestly going to be the ones best equipped to tell the public if a judge is going totally beyond the pale. We need them to feel empowered to stand up against objectively bad law, while still protecting judges from those accusations being levied by lawyers with personal interests in the cases in question.

        It’s absolutely ridiculous that they’re coming for Catriona for speaking up and telling the public things we needed to know, and I am wishing her all the best with her disciplinary investigation.

      • tracey 1.1.2

        Benedict’s piece is well thought out and legally sound. He is a very young barrister but is prepared to put his head above the parapet where much more experienced barrister’s will not.

        Judge’s bring their life experience with them to the bench. For some this is private schooling (single sex schooling), high paid legal careers, cocktail parties and mixing with people mostly like themselves.

        We need to demand better of the guardians of our justice systems. These are the folk we rely upon to hold our Executive to account. There are some GREAT Judges out there so we are capable of appointing quality, with world views that are not narrow.

  2. Bill 2

    All “closed shops” promote conservative mind sets. And all “closed shops” ‘protect their own’ – certainly no washing of the dirty laundry in public. And the legal profession is one of the few “closed shops” left. (The medical profession is another)

    I don’t know anything about this case beyond what’s written here and haven’t been through all the links yet, but this bit on the larger picture stuck out.

    I’m not understanding the suggestion that – It seems to me that the freedom-of-speech advocates tend only to be vocal when it’s the current power structures and systems that are threatened.

    I’d have thought, if anything, the exact opposite is the case. Freedom of speech is all well and good (even laudable) as long it doesn’t threaten current power structures.

    • stargazer 2.1

      whoops, you’re right, typo. i’ll edit the post.

    • Carolyn_Nth 2.2

      Actually, it can be both.

      Depends who’s claiming freedom of speech. So yer supporters of the status quo get upset and claim sexism & racism when when someone is critical of old white men dominating company boards, but claim free speech when old white man calls that someone misogynist names.

      • tracey 2.2.1

        This ^^^^

      • Bill 2.2.2

        The powerful (often enough) silence the less powerful by denying them the right to free speech (as in this instance) while (often enough and hypocritically) exercising that same right as a means to denigrate those they wish to silence.

        That’s convoluted. But gets there 🙂

        And comes back to what I said above that “free speech” is less likely to be championed by the “freedom of speech” brigade when it challenges authority in a meaningful way.

    • tracey 2.3

      Bill

      I know of one lawyer who has had 4 bills over turned by the Law Society in 3 years. From working with this lawyer i know many more had grounds but did not report him/her to the Law Society. In one case the BIll was reduced from 23,000 to 6,000 and in a case involving over $100k in fees it was reduced by 60%. If he/she spent as much time on quality service to his/her clients and less on challenging law Society complaints about fees, he/she would be a better lawyer.

      The Auckland Law Society considers the name of the lawyer should not be published because it is not in the public interest. This is a serial fee over charger. How are the public supposed to protect themselves?

      • Bill 2.3.1

        I have no idea how the public protects itself effectively from “closed shop” entities like the legal profession or the medical profession.

  3. patricia bremner 3

    Again a case of “an entitled man” not liking being challenged.

  4. mickysavage 4

    Good on her. If there are barricades somewhere I am happy to join her there.

    • tracey 4.1

      As someone who is still a registered barrister and solicitor of the High Court, but not holding a current practice certificate, I have written to the Law Society condemning their action, and the waste of time and resources.

  5. OnceWasTIm 5

    ” I understand that the Law Society would want to maintain the integrity of the justice system, and the part lawyers play in it, and therefore it wouldn’t be useful to undermine the judiciary by going after them when a lawyer loses their case. ”

    Ha! The judicial wing has been constantly undermined, bit by bit over the past 30 years when the neo-liberal agenda kicked in.
    Whether it be by judicial functions being brought in to the executive and administrative wings, or simply by complete under-funding.

    Why (for example) are we waiting for an associate minister to deliver a decision on a Mr Middleton.
    Why is the Ombudsm**n’s Office struggling.

    It’s a shame the Judicial wing hasn’t been more vocal in recent years, but thankfully that’s changing. I think a few might be freaking as a result as it now feels more comfortable to assert itself

    law SOCIETY?
    That sort of implies the following definition:
    “the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community”

  6. koreropono 6

    I think it is very telling that despite the Chief District Court Judge noting that the judge’s comments were inappropriate, the National Standards Committee of the Law Society still feel it appropriate to undertake a disciplinary ‘investigation’ against Catriona.

    This in context of the rest of the article, I believe that Cartonia views this as an issue of male privilege. I think that is why she starts her article with example after example of being treated appallingly by men within the profession, even to the point that one Queen’s Counsel felt it appropriate to have a junior staff member monitor what she said during her radio show.

    Not only are they policing her, they are trying to silence her, using their dominance, their male privilege and the power structures that seek to reinforce their dominance and privilege.

    Perhaps her male colleagues do not like the fact that she may expose flaws in how the law is being applied and the impact this is having on vulnerable women and children? https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2017/07/07/37783/catriona-maclennan-dva-decision

  7. Anne 7

    What a story but oh so familiar. It doesn’t just apply to lawyers of course but women everywhere who have tried to break through a professional barrier which had hitherto been largely the province of men. The variety of tactics used, the sexist and abusive behaviour plus the constant put-downs are never ending.

    I put most of it down to the fact these men feel threatened because so many of these women are proving to be not only their equal, but in many cases far better then them.

  8. joe90 8

    My SO once worked in a law office. Apparently the partners were absolute pricks, their lessors just as bad, everything you’ve ever heard about their behaviour is true and it beat meat packing in a goat abattoir as the worst job ever by a country mile.

  9. Ad 9

    NZLS are as close as you get to a full replica of the English class system, and adore themselves for it.

    From my reasonably close observation they are just one great private school, with all the attendant markets of rank and distinction that get enforced with nods, winks, exclusions, invitations and non-invitations, dubious specialisations, red-faced guffawing hubris, politesse as enforcement, coteries, cliques, referrals, patronage lineage, false bonhomie, implied and official rank, patrilineal conferral, golf-loving, yacht-captaining, scrabbling upwards mobility, sneering contempt, affairs, drinking, ‘conferences’ , implied monied markers, and general circle-jerking.

    They are a lifeboat of almost pure white Britishness in a sea of unwashed brown criminals, and they love it.

    They have a mild function providing professional development updates, but the main two law schools could easily provide that.

    NZLS and ADLS should be disbanded.

    • Anne 9.1

      …one great private school, with all the attendant markets of rank and distinction that get enforced with nods, winks, exclusions, invitations and non-invitations, dubious specialisations, red-faced guffawing hubris, politesse as enforcement, coteries, cliques, referrals, patronage lineage, false bonhomie, implied and official rank, patrilineal conferral, golf-loving, yacht-captaining, scrabbling upwards mobility, sneering contempt, affairs, drinking, ‘conferences’ , implied monied markers, and general circle-jerking.

      Beautiful.

      But as always there are exceptions to the rule.

      • tracey 9.1.1

        And all practising barristers and solicitors are members of the LS by legislation, through their practising certificates.

        yes there are exceptions but the brave are rare in the profession.

  10. Zorb6 10

    Justice Mahon,Tony Molloy,Catriona’s in good company.
    Still reeling about the judge Lance fiasco.

    • Anne 10.1

      Justice Mahon,Tony Molloy

      Couldn’t agree more and they will be the law professionals who will be written up in the history books with reverence.

      • Tamati Tautuhi 10.1.1

        Justice Mahon was crucified by everyone when a plane was deliberately/mistakenly, driven into Mt Erebus, important documents went missing from the pilots personal home and evidence went missing from the crash site, he described the case as an “orchestrated littany of lies”.

        …. and guess what he was right ?

        Who changed the flight co-ordinates without informing the pilot ?

        • Anne 10.1.1.1

          The Erebus affair was probably the worst example of an establishment cover-up in the history of this nation. And as always, the culprits – which included Rob Muldoon of course – were allowed to get away with it. Unlawful break-ins and Illegal tampering with evidence is not only acceptable but it is also applauded when carried out or approved by the rich and powerful.

          And the people who had the guts to stand up and tell the truth were hounded and harassed for the remainder of their lives. I refer in particular to Justice Mahon and former Air NZ senior captain, Gordon Vette. Both died before their time.

  11. Lara 11

    This is a chilling example of silencing.

    This is dangerous for our democracy. And no, that’s not putting too much weight on it.

    Experienced, professional, qualified woman speaks out on an issue with which she has experience and qualifications and on which others agree… yet the NZLS pursues her, threatening her ability to practice her profession.

    This is not okay. It’s chilling for our freedom of speech. And as so, should be front page news.

    • tracey 11.1

      And each time a white privileged male in a well paid position states he is being discriminated or persecuted I sigh, and think of her experience and how it mirrors millions of women world wide. And those outraged white men at having to now share, stayed silence while they gained advantages at the expense of women like this.

  12. D'Esterre 12

    In general, the judiciary doesn’t take seriously the issue of violence against women and children. I know that they say they do, but incident after incident says otherwise. That judge’s comments are just the latest piece of evidence.

    All power to MacLennan; I hope that she prevails.

  13. Draco T Bastard 13

    The committee has asked me to respond to a series of questions. These include –

    [1.] Whether I undermined the dignity of the judiciary ?; and

    [2.]Whether I failed to comply with a lawyer’s fundamental obligation to uphold the rule of law and facilitate the administration of justice in New Zealand?

    1. No she didn’t – the judge did that by being an arse.
    2. Yes she did by pointing out that the judge wasn’t.

    If anyone should be in front of the disciplinary committee it’s the judge. If he doesn’t end up there then this is nothing more than an attack brought about solely for the purpose of silencing her.

  14. Tamati Tautuhi 14

    The NZ Law Society is a closed club of pupils from the elitist schools like Kings College, Auckland Grammar School, Whanganui Collegiate, Scots College, Christs College etc

    These people live in a closed bubble and have no real life experiences to draw on. The legal fraternity is a closed shop whereby members grease each others palms and protect each other, in the brotherhood they look after themselves and each other.

    Like they often say “New Zealand is more British than the British” ?

    Trying to extract information or to challenge the legal profession is futile as the costs ie $$$’s involved will bankrupt you, unless you have plenty ie (a truckload} to start with. This is the reason people in NZ do not pursue legal action as the costs are too high.

    If a family solicitor rips off your forebears estates how do you challenge this when the solicitors hold all the family records and documents ?

    • tracey 14.1

      You are right, particularly historically. I just want to say there are great judges working out there, and that they exist means it is possible to get quality people. I count former Justice Becroft as one of this country’s gems.

    • Tamati Tautuhi 14.2

      ….. and St Cuthberts, Diocesan etc. etc

      • tracey 14.2.1

        We still have low female, Maori and PI representatives on our judiciary. Sian Elias is a Dio Graduate but much of her work and decisions reflect a women with a heightened ability to see beyond her own circumstances

  15. dukeofurl 15

    The high Court Judge who heard the crown appeal had this to say

    “An appeal judge has now convicted the man, calling Judge Brandts-Giesen’s comments “quite wrong””

    “Judge Brandts-Giesen’s comments that anyone would have done the same as the defendant were “unfortunate”. Judge Gendall said the comments tried to “normalise and minimise” the offending and blamed the victims.”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/102300152/judge-wrong-queenstown-man-gets-conviction-for-assaults-after-finding-love-text

    You have to wonder who the man at the centre of the case was, since seems to have the a big part of the ‘law system on his side. Name suppressed as usual.

  16. Mark 16

    Catriona presumably read the transcript (if there was one) carefully and made herself fully familiar with the facts and circumstances of the case. If that assumption is correct then the Judge’s comments were appalling; if not, the Catriona should be sanctioned.

    • tracey 16.1

      Mark

      ….and the Chief District Court judge should be sanctioned too? if she also didnt “read the transcript (if there was one) carefully and made herself fully familiar with the facts and circumstances of the case”?

      Can you explain what circumstances you would imagine that would make it ok to say that the woman and man and the daughter deserved to be hit? That appears to be what you are suggesting, although your comment is very short and you could mean something else entirely?

  17. Mark 17

    No. Experience (as a trial lawyer in NZ and in WA) tells me that context is everything. I’m just saying that you need to know how serious the assault actually was (did the guy just throw a pillow at them, for instance?) and whether, apart from catching his missus in the act with another chap, there were other circumstances that the judge was aware of that explained his remarks.

  18. Obtrectator 18

    This is not meant as a frivolous comment (the Law Society’s actions stink on ice, and must be fought a l’outrance) but: could Catriona try the John key defence. i.e. “comment made in my capacity as a concerned member of the public, not as a lawyer”?

    • Chris 18.1

      If MacLennan goes down it’ll be something for her to be proud of.

    • Tracey 18.2

      My understanding is that as she has a current practising certificate she is bound by the Act with regard to colleagues and the Judiciary.

  19. Ross 19

    As always, the right to free speech comes with responsibilities. Israel Folau is learning that lesson.

    The President of the Law Society is a woman, so I’m not sure we can put this down to a conspiracy of old, white males but I could be wrong.

    It’s worth noting that MacLennan gave media interviews about the case and didn’t simply comment in the Herald. So the complaint may have resulted from the totality of comments she made. In one interview, on Larry Williams’ show, she said the defendant was guilty. I’m not sure that is for her to comment on publicly. It’s up to the Crown if they wish to appeal (they did, and the defendant was subsequently convicted). I could imagine that if a fellow lawyer or member of the judiciary publicly criticised MacLennan’s performance in Court, she might be a little miffed.

    https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/news-and-communications/people-in-the-law/lawyer-profiles/new-zealand-law-society-president-kathryn-mary-beck

    http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/on-air/larry-williams-drive/audio/catriona-maclennan-queenstown-judge-under-fire-for-domestic-violence-comments/

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/102300152/judge-wrong-queenstown-man-gets-conviction-for-assaults-after-finding-love-text

    • Tracey 19.1

      Judith Collins was President of ADLS and Deputy of NZDLS.

      The NZDLS said it received a complaint, to my memory. I wonder who that was.

  20. Ross 20

    As for the Law Society giving sleazy lawyers a free pass, I’m not sure that is correct either.

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/102604273/victim-in-bend-over-barrister-case-speaks-out

    • McFlock 20.1

      Yeah, spending a long day at the office to pay a fine he got for repeated sexual harrassment and threatening colleagues isn’t free. It’s still pretty cheap.

  21. Tamati Tautuhi 21

    Members of the legal fraternity are definitely a different life form IMHO ?

    …. and drawing on experience from dealing with them and members of the Law Society.

  22. Observer Tokoroa 22

    To: Tracey 14.1
    20 April 2018

    “… I just want to say there are great judges working out there, and that they exist means it is possible to get quality people. I count former Justice Becroft as one of this country’s gems.”

    But if we have great Judges working out there, how come they are not combining and assessing what is happening to Catriona MacClennan via smug Law Societies. ?

    Why are the good Judges not appealing to the Law Societies to desist ?

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    The kids did surprisingly well today – meltdown count was about 3, and mostly fairly short ones. (And a fourth while I was writing.) Game-wise I had a go at Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark. It’s a fairly standard RPG with turn-based combat and what they call a “mature storyline” (it ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    3 days ago
  • Letter to a friend
    by Don Franks Hi David, Nice hearing from you, I’m glad to hear you’re getting by okay in these grim times. You asked how’s it going for us back here in New Zealand. You would have heard that the whole country is locked down and with breaks for exercise and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 3
    . . Lock Down: Day 3 – A photo essay with observations . March 28: First day of the first weekend in Lock Down. It feels like it’s been weeks since only Level 3 was declared last Tuesday, only four days ago. Woke up this morning to RNZ; coffee; toast, ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    3 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #13
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 22, 2020 through Sat, Mar 28, 2020 Articles Linked to on Facebook Sun, Mar 22, 2020 In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters by Chelsea Harvey, ...
    4 days ago
  • Rāhui day 3
    I’m here in lockdown with my flatmate and her two girls (6 and 2) and it. is. a time. They’re usually really active so to start with the only boardgame in the house is the copy of Guess Who that the 6 year old got for her birthday. Flatmate commented ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    4 days ago
  • A test of civil society.
    The CV-19 (COVID) pandemic has seen the imposition of a government ordered national quarantine and the promulgation of a series of measures designed to spread the burden of pain and soften the economic blow on the most strategically important and most vulnerable sectors of society. The national narrative is framed ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    4 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 2
    . . Lock Down: Day 2 – A photo essay with observations . March 27 – Day 2 of our Strange New World. The Park and Ride near my suburb, usually filled with hundreds of vehicles, had just… four; . . Another drive into Wellington City on a highway nearly ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • How Do You Feel? What Do You Think?
    Fortune's Children: Under extraordinary pressure, the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition will each show us what they are made of. Have they been blessed with intelligence, grace, wit, poise, toughness, empathy and humour – and in what measure? More importantly, to what extent have they ...
    4 days ago
  • Landlords are NOT an essential service
    If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to rent a property on the open market in New Zealand, which is one of the most expensive in the entire world, you’ll likely be keenly aware of just how arrogant and entitled landlords and their real estate agents can be.Unfortunately for ...
    4 days ago
  • A “new Society” post-COVID19 will definitely emerge. The question is: on what path?
    Society-wise, aside from the specific morbidity shall we say of the medically-oriented aspects of this COVID-19 crisis, what is unfolding before the world is in more than one way an instructive study of humanity and reactions to a high intensity, high stress environment in real time. Friends, we are at ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    5 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: Everything you need to know about the wage subsidy
    Right now low waged and insecure workers are feeling the economic brunt of the looming #Covid19 Recession. In response legal advocate Toby Cooper* and hospitality and worker’s rights advocate Chloe Ann-King, are putting together a series of legal blogs about your employment rights: In this legal blog we outline some ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    5 days ago
  • The massacre of prisoners in Modelo jail, Bogota, March 21
    by Equipo Jurídico Pueblos and Gearóid Ó Loingsigh (25/03/2020) An escape plan in question On the night of March 21st and the early morning of the 22nd, the forces of the Colombian state stormed into the Modelo prison in Bogotá, murdering 23 prisoners and injuring 83, in response to the ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • We are not America
    When the government banned semi-automatic weapons in response to a terrorist atrocity, gun-nuts were outraged. Mired in toxic American gun culture, they thought owning weapons whose sole purpose was killing people was some sort of "constitutional right", a necessity for "defending themselves" against the government. Now, the Court of Appeal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • When will we know the lockdown is working?
    Just before midnight on Wednesday March 25, Aotearoa New Zealand entered a countrywide alert level four lockdown. For at least the next four weeks, everyone who isn’t an essential worker is confined to their bubble. We are doing this to stop the explosive growth in people contracting and dying from ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    5 days ago
  • Lock Down: Day 1
    . . Lock Down: Day 1 – A photo essay with observations . Day one of the Level 4 nationwide lock-down (or, DefCon 4 as I sometimes cheekily call it) started at 11.59PM on 25 March. For a moment, most of the nation held it’s collective breath. In that brief ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • A Compelling Recollection.
    Broad, Sunlit Uplands: How those words fired my young imagination! Or, perhaps, it is more accurate to say: how those words fused, in my young mind, with the image printed on every packet of Fielder’s Cornflour. Always fascinated by history, especially modern history, I cannot hear Churchill’s wonderfully evocative words, even ...
    5 days ago
  • The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus
    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    6 days ago
  • After the Pandemic
    It will pass. What happens next? Not immediately, but longer term. There are many opinions, fewer certainties. Will it “change everything!” as many confidently, and contradictorily predict? In this post I look at how foresight can help bound some of the uncertainties so you can more objectively consider the future. ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    6 days ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    6 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    6 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    1 week ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    1 week ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
    Businesses can start applying to their banks for loans under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme set up to support the New Zealand economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re moving quickly to protect New Zealand businesses, jobs and the economy during this unprecedented global economic shock,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    32 mins ago
  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
    Work is underway looking at measures to speed up consents for development and infrastructure projects during the recovery from COVID 19, to provide jobs and stimulate our economy.  Environment Minister David Parker said the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis that will have a wide ranging and lasting impact ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • Advance payments to support contractors
    Advance payments will be made to transport construction industry contractors to retain the workforce and ensure it is ready to quickly gear up to build projects which will be vital to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. He said keeping the workforce required to build ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
    Work to scale up the health system in preparation for COVID-19 was today outlined by Health Minister David Clark, as he reported back to the new Epidemic Response Committee. “We are well placed to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
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