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Farrar fudging ACE figures

Written By: - Date published: 8:05 am, February 24th, 2010 - 45 comments
Categories: dpf, Economy, education - Tags:

National have made a big mistake cutting funding for Adult and Community Education (ACE). For a trifling sum of money, and giving lie to their pre election rhetoric, they have killed off a decades old public institution. People are angry.

One of the stupidest aspects of this anti-education policy is its financial incompetence. Spending on ACE has a huge return. According to this report from Price Waterhouse Coopers Economic Evaluation of Adult and Community Education Outcomes :

Based on the available data, including the survey responses, the estimated economic impact of the ACE sector is between $4.8 and $6.3 billion annually. This equates to a return on investment of $54 – $72 for each dollar of funding. Each dollar of government funding generates a return of $16 – $22, but this is further leveraged through private contributions to the sector, including those voluntarily added such as unpaid volunteer labour. …

Not even National’s most dedicated apologists can defend the foolishness of killing off such returns, so their only alternative is to strap on their ideological blinkers and try and discredit the PWC analysis. Farrar summarises a recent rash of blog posts (here, here, here) attempting to do just that.

You know Farrar has little to go on when he gets in to the ad hominem attacks: “Remind me to never get PWC to do a report, if I want it taken credibly” (this despite citing PWC as an authoritative source on previous occasions). But the main substance of Farrar’s attack (quoting Nolan) is the argument that most of the benefits of ACE spending don’t count. From the list of benefits in the PWC report (Table 7.1 p47), Farrar / Nolan rule out almost all of them:

Increase in direct income: No
Savings in government benefits: No
Marginal increase in individual income: No
Increase in income from self-confidence: No
Reduction in family violence: No
Savings for health: No
Savings from crime reduction: Potentially, partially
Increased community involvement by individual: No
Higher [government] income [from] taxes: No

The reason that these benefits “don’t count” is that they are “private benefits” not “public benefits”. Private benefits (and “fiscal externalities” such as increased government income from taxes) are not “policy-relevant”. Farrar comments: “If a firm makes basic mistakes like counting private benefits as public benefits and vice-versa with costs, then they do not deserve to be taken seriously”.

I’ll try and limit myself to two points in reply to this arrant nonsense. First, we don’t need the bizarre Farrar / Nolan checklist of what is and isn’t a public benefit, because that too is covered by the PWC analysis. They assess (Table 7.2 p48) the total benefit ($4,902 – $6,429 million) as being composed of $3,759 – $4,903 million private benefit, and $1,142 – $1,526 million Government/public benefit. Even if we accept that only public benefits are relevant, the return on ACE spending is huge ($16 to $22 on every dollar spent).

But secondly, and more importantly, in what real world are private benefits not relevant to policy? According to Farrar, governments should not have policy that tries to increase our income, decrease our use of benefits, reduce family violence, reduce our use of the health system, and so on. This will be news to government. National say they want us to be a “high-skill high-wage” economy. National say they want us to get off the benefit. National say they are concerned about the relationship between income and health. And so on, and so on. If Farrar believed his own post on ACE he would get on the red phone pronto and let Key know the error of his ways…

So here we have sublime idiocy on two levels. At the government level, the idiocy of killing off the ACE programme which so clearly contributes such good value for money to so many of the government’s supposedly core policy goals. It’s not just that National have no idea how to achieve a high-wage economy, they are actively killing off a programme that did actually help. And at the level of Farrar and the other apologists, the idiocy of running this bizarre attack on the credibility of PWC, a transparent attempt to shout down a message that they cannot bear to hear.

45 comments on “Farrar fudging ACE figures ”

  1. Hi Rob,

    Just a few quick things I would like to say. I am in the middle of forecasts at the moment, so I’m not sure if I’ll have time to come back to this post very soon – if there is anything you really want to raise with me feel free to comment on my post, or drop me an email.

    “They assess (Table 7.2 p48) the total benefit ($4,902 $6,429 million) as being composed of $3,759 $4,903 million private benefit, and $1,142 $1,526 million Government/public benefit. Even if we accept that only public benefits are relevant, the return on ACE spending is huge ($16 to $22 on every dollar spent).”

    This isn’t a split between “public and private” though – it is between social and private, this is about looking at what optimal policy is in the absense of government right. In the post I ignored the direct issues with the numbers (which tended to use rather excessive estimates), and just focused on “what is a social benefit”. The justifiable social benefits are a lot lower than these estimates.

    Furthermore, they used the “average social benefit” as the “marginal social benefit” (which is what you look at when deciding whether to change funding) – which exaggerates matters.

    Trust me, we could do this sort of study with virtually ever industry in New Zealand – and we wold find that the “return on investment” was enormous. However, the benefits tend to be overplayed and the costs are always underplayed – which is a pity.

    “But secondly, and more importantly, in what real world are private benefits not relevant to policy? ”

    Yes for this sort of policy – as voluntary trade exists. If we move it into the public realm these “benefits” are canceled out by the “opportunity cost” of the movement.

    Now, I’m fine with NZ funding ACE because the electorate WANTS people to have private benefits – hell that is the reason we fund universities and the such to such a high as far as I can tell.

    But the inference of this report that it was allocatively efficient to do this was wrong, which was the sole point I was raising. My issue was with the inference taken from the reports figures – in terms of actual policy society can do what it wants.

    • r0b 1.1

      Hi Matt

      Thanks for dropping in, and for a very politely worded reply!

      This isn’t a split between “public and private’ though

      That’s what it’s labelled as, but in any case this dancing on the head of a pin is hardly relevant given the below.

      In the post I ignored the direct issues with the numbers (which tended to use rather excessive estimates), and just focused on “what is a social benefit’. The justifiable social benefits are a lot lower than these estimates.

      And you know this because of – gut instinct? PWC did the actual study.

      Trust me, we could do this sort of study with virtually ever industry in New Zealand and we wold find that the “return on investment’ was enormous.

      I very much doubt it. Look around you at all the trappings of our “advanced civilisation”. None of it would exist without education. In every study an educated population is more productive, is healthier, has less crime, and so on and so on. Every captain of industry, and every productive worker that they employ, is a product of education. Education is the centre of everything. In my opinion the PWC report under-estimates the value of education!

      r0b: “But secondly, and more importantly, in what real world are private benefits not relevant to policy? ‘

      Matt: My issue was with the inference taken from the reports figures in terms of actual policy society can do what it wants.

      So the short answer is, in no real world are private benefits not relevant to policy. Matt, I’m not an economist (I’m sure that’s obvious). But I can tell you as a layperson that this is the sort of nonsense (sorry) that gives economics a bad name. You construct a language and a theory of costs and benefits that is completely abstract (private benefits are not policy relevant), and then you admit that it doesn’t apply to the real world. I have nothing against abstract theoretical games, knock yourself out, but don’t let them out of the lab to make claims about a real world to which they don’t apply. Which is what Farrar has done. Farrar tries to argue bizarre conclusions in the real world, and combines it with ad hominem attacks on the competence of PWC, because he’s trying to discredit a report that shows the huge economic value of the ACE courses that National has mindlessly slashed.

  2. Santi 2

    How much is Farrar being paid for his spin? Number 2 spin doctor must be making a killing at taxpayer’s expense.

    • lukas 2.1

      Have you not heard? There is a team of us operating out of the ninth floor. We submit tender documents each week. Because the amount is under 10K each time, it does not go out to public tender. 9.9K per week isn’t bad though.

  3. Gosman 3

    Any report which claims a return in the realms of what the PWC claims for Adult Education is got to be suspect. The way in which they have quntified things seem to be as Matt Nolan has pointed out, (overplaying the benefits and underplaying the costs).

    Also what people here fail to comprehend is that if it provided such a great benefit then people would be lining up to pay for this themselves instead of relying on other people (i.e. Taxpayers) to do it for them.

    • DeeDub 3.1

      I like not this news! Bring me some other news!

    • Clarke 3.2

      Also what people here fail to comprehend is that if it provided such a great benefit then people would be lining up to pay for this themselves instead of relying on other people (i.e. Taxpayers) to do it for them.

      …. assuming, of course, that they have the discretionary income to pay for the additional education. Or do poor people not deserve educating?

  4. Clarke 4

    Underlining the monumental financial illiteracy of National in general and Farrar in particular, the result of a tax cut is an increase in private benefit and a decrease in public benefit. By the same (il)logic he has deployed in the argument about ACE, he would be against tax cuts for the rich.

    What a blithering moron.

  5. Gosman 5

    “Education is the centre of everything. In my opinion the PWC report under-estimates the value of education!”

    What a load of nonsense.

    How about someone who is ‘educated’ in Astrology r0b? Or how about Reiki healing? Do you think that sort of ‘education’ is particularly beneficial in terms of the well being of the overall economy ?

    • A Nonny Moose 5.1

      That sounds suspiciously like Tolley’s spin about “Golf Lessons and Painting Classes”, as if continuing education is the sole providence of the upper classes.

      • Gosman 5.1.1

        The reason a student loan scheme was set up was to help people of all socio-economic groups to make the economic decision whether or not to undertake higher education. If the benefits accrued to the indiciduals are as per the PWC report then it is a no-brainer. People would be flocking to course like this to improve their lot.

        • Clarke 5.1.1.1

          Isn’t it a pity, then, that student loans aren’t available for ACE courses – which does rather invalidate your argument.

          • Gosman 5.1.1.1.1

            Anyone interested in bettering themselves can find a wealth of Educational opportunities that are covered by Student loans. Just check out the following link.

            http://www2.careers.govt.nz/education_training_info.html

            If you think ACE is so beneficial then you should be campaigning for it to be included then.

            • lprent 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Why? Night classes have been running very well for over a century effectively using existing infrastructure at times that they are not in use, and doing it on a small budget $18 million per year servicing hundreds of thousands of people. They aren’t directly vocational – they’re designed to allow people to get used to learning.

              Now explain why they should radically change the behaviour to a model that would cost the country more because you have a flawed economic model that you think they should conform to.

              Face it – the biggest problem with ACE as far as you were concerned was that business people were not making money out of it.

  6. Hi Rob
    You also linked to my blog on this issue. This debate is really about preferences – ACE is, overall, worthwhile, but is it preferred for funding over another area? Anne Tolley talked down the value of ACE (repetitive mentions of Moroccan cooking) to defend her core decision that there were better uses of the money while the ACE lobby has talked up the value of ACE (PWC’s figures are unreasonably high and shouldn’t be relied on) because they support the spending. This government has decided to spend the money elsewhere and has worn criticism over it. They will probably lose some votes and it has affected people but the economy won’t lose hundreds of millions in output because of the funding cut, especially since the money went to elsewhere in education.

    • lprent 6.1

      but the economy won’t lose hundreds of millions in output because of the funding cut,

      Yes they will. But this is a short-term cut that removes a long-term benefit to society. It allows people to have a second chance at getting into education. The effects of that are enormous going down the generations. What it allows is people and society to lift themselves up.

      especially since the money went to elsewhere in education.

      Lets look at the ‘private benefit’ of the state supporting private schools – which is where the money appears to have gone…

      As far as I’m concerned there is little or no public benefit from such schools. We need to cut them off from being supported by the public purse. Next election….

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      This government has decided to spend the money elsewhere and has worn criticism over it.

      Yeah, the criticism is because the decided to give the money to their mates in the private education sector for a negative return.

  7. Gosman 7

    “They will probably lose some votes and it has affected people but the economy won’t lose hundreds of millions in output because of the funding cut, especially since the money went to elsewhere in education.”

    Exactly.

    The trouble with many on the Left is that they usually don’t see any opportunity to spend tax payer money more wisely or to cut unnecessary expenditure. The standard answer from the left is to tax the rich and spend more money which just ignores economic fundamentals. That sort of logic leads to what happened in Zimbabwe.

    • IrishBill 7.1

      What an absurd strawman argument. Returns on spending are not going to be equal across the education sector. In fact I’d suggest that a dollar spent on subsidising already well-funded private schools is likely to generate fewer gains than a dollar spent on ACE due to the law of diminishing returns.

      • Gosman 7.1.1

        Excellent, then you would agree that we shouldn’t just increase spending on ‘Education’ because ‘Education’ is always beneficial.

        • IrishBill 7.1.1.1

          No I’m arguing that we should be putting education dollars into the parts of the education system where they are most beneficial and basic economic theory would suggest that is extremely unlikely to be subsidies for private schools and highly likely to be ACE funding. What part of diminishing returns don’t you understand?

          • gitmo 7.1.1.1.1

            The most bang for buck is primary education (and the last year of early childhood) followed closely by secondary…….. so why do we throw so much money at tertiary education ?

            • lprent 7.1.1.1.1.1

              So why is Tolley wasting money tossing it at ‘national standards’ when there is a *lot* of evidence that the damn things don’t work. Why aren’t they testing the program out.

              Point out what the expected benefits are. Delineate the public benefits from it (personally I can’t see any).

              Look at the ACE program and contemplate the benefits for kids in having their parents slightly more literate and supportive of education. In my case having one parent going off and doing night classes to get her UE was the basis of our whole family getting much more highly educated.

              Frankly Farrar (and Nolan) clearly don’t know what they’re talking about. Any teacher will tell you that it is the attitude of the parents that makes a overwhelming difference to how well kids do at school.

              • Gosman

                It is called Democracy. The National Party campainged on introducing National Standards into schools and they are fulfilling that election promise.

                You may well prefer Government policy dictated by State technocrats but I prefer to live in a society where people can influence decisions via the ballot box.

                IrishBill: Did they also campaign on axing ACE?

              • lprent

                Ah the empty response.
                Show me where National promised to kill ACE?
                Show me where they promised to increase funds to private schools?

                They did promise national standards – it was a paragraph left over from the 2002 (?) election made before people saw how much of a screwup these types of programmes had been in the UK and the US. Are you saying that the nats are so stupid that they didn’t look at that and want to check it first?

                Duh – ok so it is Anne Tolley – she is that stupid.

              • Gosman

                They campaigned on reining in the massive increase in Government spending that happened under the last Government and cutting the size of the Government sector in the overall economy by cutting taxes.

                This is what Political parties on the right of the political spectrum do. They cut the fat that parties on the left build up when they are in power and reduce the size of the state.

                When the Conservative party gets back into power in the UK they too will be cutting Government spending. They will be forced to do so because of the huge deficit built up under Labour.

                Why do you guy’s have trouble understanding this?

                IrishBill: because you’re wrong. We went into the recession with one of the smallest debt to GDP ratios in the OECD. National are also not “cutting fat” they are cutting productive economically forward-thinking projects like ACE, FastForward, the training allowance, Super Fund payments and Kiwisaver contributions and then wasting billions of dollars on projects like subsidising private schools, PR for national standards, subsiding polution and tax cuts for the rich. Political parties on the right don’t cut fat. Every one of them, Reagan, Bush, Shipley, Bolger, Thatcher, you name it, have increased the size of government. They’ve just done so at the expense of most of their citizens and in benefit of their economic elite.

                You need to check your facts.

              • Clarke

                When the Conservative party gets back into power in the UK they too will be cutting Government spending. They will be forced to do so because of the huge deficit built up under Labour.

                Why do you guy’s have trouble understanding this?

                And herein lies the difficulty.

                The essential disconnect between Left and Right comes because the Right choose to believe that budget deficits are a problem – thanks largely to the work of the Chicago School economists – despite all the real-world evidence that government deficits are a normal and necessary part of a modern economy.

                If deficits were an actual – rather than theoretical – problem, then the United States would have gone broke more than 100 years ago. The evidence that this has not occurred tends to rather undermine the economists on the Right who think that deficits are somehow bad, but that has not stopped this particularly dangerous meme that “deficits must be repaid at all costs!” from spreading.

                So the simple version:

                – Governments are not households. The economics that drive households bear no resemblance to the economics of countries, and the analogies that the Right draws between the two are worse than useless.
                – Where a government has a fiat non-convertible currency with a floating exchange rate (like New Zealand), running a deficit is a normal part of effective monetary policy.
                – Governments are not primarily funded by taxation or by selling bonds to the private sector; rather, their spending is primarily based on how much fiat currency is required to operate the government sector, which is then created by the central bank.
                – Where the government decides not to run a deficit (i.e. a surplus) due to capture by delusional economists, a recession inevitably results. Likewise, tightening monetary policy in a recession will always make it worse.

                So your contention that a government is forced to cut back any form of expenditure due to the deficit is completely incorrect. The government of the day may well decide to cut expenditure for political reasons, but this should never be confused with economic necessity.

              • Gosman

                “Every one of them, Reagan, Bush, Shipley, Bolger, Thatcher, you name it, have increased the size of government. ”

                What was the size of the Government sector as a percentage of GDP prior to 1990 and what was it in 1999?

                I think you will find that not many economists would agree with you that it was higher at the end of that decade than at the beginning.

          • Gosman 7.1.1.1.2

            I completely agree that we shouldn’t spend Taxpayers money on Private education. It makes a nonsense of the term Private.

            If the benefits of ACE are as great as made out in the PWC report then I also don’t see why Private individuals should get support from the Taxpayer to attend them.

            • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.1.2.1

              Because such private benefits also benefit the whole of society.

            • lprent 7.1.1.1.2.2

              It is clear that you haven’t bothered to look at the program.

              It is designed to second chance people for whom the education system FAILED miserably.

              You have people without limited money or assets getting into education on what is almost a casual basis. There are few barriers to entry. There is no expectation that it will lead to a career. It is done at their local school. There isn’t a bureaucracy. You don’t have to do much more than turn up and enjoy learning new things. It is done as part of your local community, which means that you’ll have people around you with similar background and learning difficulties – so it isn’t competitive.

              The idea is to get people to understand that learning is fun. Then they’ll teach that to their kids and are more likely to go on to do the types of vocational training that you’re thinking about.

              It has been quietly working away as second chance education for over a hundred years delivering vast benefits both to people, their kids, and generally to society. Then you have a moron minister coming along and destroying it because she clearly didn’t understand what it was for… Mind you it isn’t surprising – she doesn’t appear to understand much.

              Now as for you….

              Personally I’d suggest that you don’t have the faintest idea about what the intent of the program was. In fact I’d say that you are a MISERABLE FAILURE because you clearly haven’t bothered to examine it yourself.

              • Gosman

                So where is the evidence support the view that the people taking up these courses are the ones who the education system failed?

                I suppose you have some facts and figures to back that claim up?

  8. tc 8

    Australia waits for the next wave of kiwis being driven out by the banker and his mates….it truly is 21st Century muldoonism.
    Choose a brighter future eh.

  9. JD 9

    If ACE does return $54-72 per dollar spend doesn’t this strengthen the case for participants to pay the cost themselves? If I was able to invest a dollar to get another dollar back then I’d jump at the opportunity. The only conclusions I can gather is that either the numbers are fudged or ACE particiapnts don’t value their course enough to pay a small amount extra with this enourmous return on investment.

    • IrishBill 9.1

      The people with the most to gain from ACE courses can’t afford to pay the hundreds of dollars these courses cost.

      I’d rather the government paid a little upfront for people to get a foot on the employment ladder than paid for them to remain unskilled and jobless or to subsidise their minimum wage employment.

      Of course I’m an economically rational man rather than a blind ideologue.

  10. the sprout 10

    the political management skills of this administration are laughable.
    should give a lot of heart to the opposition.
    these plonkers are EASY MEAT

    • Gosman 10.1

      And hence why they are so far behind in the opinion polls………oh wait a minute.

      • r0b 10.1.1

        Ahh, polls, the last refuge of the incompetent…

        • Gosman 10.1.1.1

          I’m just replying to an unintelligent post with one of my own.

          The point is the Opposition has yet to get any sort of traction on these topics. If the Government was such easy meat as so laughably claimed by the sprout why hasn’t this happened?

          • Clarke 10.1.1.1.1

            Given that only 28% of respondents in the Roy Morgan poll think that their economic prospects will improve in the coming year, I would suggest that the sense of poor economic management by this government is definitely on the increase.

  11. richgraham 11

    I am doing an ACE-funded course in Italian at the local polytech, costs $40 per term. There is no economic benefit in it. I’m quite happy to pay for the course’s real cost, but ACE is subsidising it and all I pay is $40. Neat eh ? And you thought ACE funding had all gone ?
    The report that assigned huge economic benefits to night classes (” $54 $72 for each dollar of funding.”)is obviously seriously in error, as Mr Kiwiblog et al pointed out. Your inability to accept the obvious does no credit to you at all Mr.Rob. Come on Labour wake up !

    • kaplan 11.1

      You can’t extrapolate the economic benefits of ACE to society from your opinion of it’s economic benefits to you as an individual.
      That’s just a step away from statements like. “I’ve only ever been to my doctor for a cough and a sore throat and there was no real benefit in doing so. I’d gladly have paid the full cost of my visit myself so the government should stop subsidising GP’s”

  12. Paul Williams 12

    I’m concerned with the government cuts to ACE, they disrupt a pathway for a cohort students that is not well served elsewhere. That said, I’m in the education business and, a while back, I managed a project to estimate the economic benefits of vocational education and training. The clear advice, at the time, from key stakeholders (funders specifically) was that to be credible and to help frame funding decisions, the analysis had to take into account second round effects i.e. be based on econometric modelling. We did this, commissioned it from an independent body in fact, which resulted in a much more modest but defensible figure. My criticism of the PWC report is that they didn’t think about the audience which is as much policy and funding bodies as it is the public.

    Ultimately, however as others have commented, this is a simple matter of priorities and National have clearly indicated there’s are elsewhere and they’ll be judged accordingly.

  13. Puddleglum 13

    There’s a pretty deep irony in economists arguing that private benefits should be teased apart from public benefits given that modern (market) economics is based on the supposedly profound insight that pursuit of self-interest actually, and inevitably, produces positive increments in the ‘common good’ (Adam Smith, et al.).

    In fact, Adam Smith was fully aware that the notion of a fully, privatised individual is a nonsense He subscribed to the social theory that humans are fundamentally ‘sympathetic’ creatures – in the technical, philosophical sense of the word. In that sense, and to bowdlerise Thatcher, there actually is no such thing as the (private) individual – there are only various forms of social interaction.

    The political and policy question is not that of how much (or how little) individuals ‘privately’ benefit from government policies but, rather, whether public benefits are optimised through the actions of governments and, more significantly, what are, in fact, the public benefits that matter.

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    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Dr Kevin Moore, Associate Professor in Psychology & Tourism, Lincoln University: “For me, the big advantage of NZ Politics Daily is the breadth of opinion and sources it gathers. Together. There is always a mix of news reporting, news analysis, opinion pieces and blog posts. That breadth ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    1 day ago
  • National is still very much the same Party even without Collins leading it… that’s the real issu...
    Judith Collins regarded Thatcher as “a personal hero” of hers. But like her hero though, it took the UK Conservative Party and their ideological counterparts here to get rid of both of them, from the inside. There’s a sort of bizarre symmetry to that really. Both were rather messy ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 days ago
  • 2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #48
    Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, November 21, 2021 through Sat, November 27, 2021 The following articles sparked above average interest during the week: To Breed or Not to Breed?, The Vaccine for Fake News, Ten ways to confront the climate ...
    2 days ago
  • A professor without honour in his own country
    Michael Corballis just three months before his death appeared in an interview on the Hui with Mihirangi Forbes. She made no effort to conceal her disdain for his defence of science and proceeded to lecture him on not knowing enough about mātauranga Maori to comment on it and accused him ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 days ago
  • Businessman – and Political Novice
    The drums are beating – see Heather Du Plessis-Allan in today’s Herald – for Christopher Luxon’s bid to become National’s new (and latest) leader. It is conceded that he is a political tyro but – such is National’s current plight – it is suggested that he is a risk worth ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 days ago
  • No, Elizabeth Stuart Would Not Have Stopped the English Civil War (Probably)
    As you might have noticed, A Phuulish Fellow is a fairly eclectic blog. Even an organic one. I have my interests, and write about them as the fit takes me. And sometimes I stumble across an article I feel the need to comment on. Today, I ran across a ...
    3 days ago
  • Rumour Has It: A Númenórean Character List?
    Today we have another Amazon rumour on our hands. And for a change, it is not coming out of Fellowship of Fans. No, instead we have the following tweet doing the rounds, ostensibly listing (mostly) Númenórean characters and their code names. It’s an interesting leak, if true. And that’s ...
    4 days ago
  • Covid as Warriors
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    PunditBy Brian Easton
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19: the B.1.1.529 variant – what do we know?
    There’s a lot of news about a new variant originally reported in southern Africa. Early signs have prompted calls for immediate precautionary blocks on travel from the region to restrict its spread. The WHO has called an emergency conference on this variant. Here’s a round-up of what we know so ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    4 days ago
  • National Party board denies it unanimously agreed to Collins’ Faustian bargain with Satan
    Sources close to party president Peter Goodfellow say he was totally blindsided by Collins’ claims he was party to this particular satanic ritual. National Party president Peter Goodfellow is today issuing a strong denial on behalf of the party’s board, saying they did not, at any point, agree to the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • The cost of optimism
    Yesterday the National Party imploded in a messy knife-fight that cost it its leader and probably one of the contenders. So naturally, the government has taken the opportunity to do a dump of its pandemic advice, including the Cabinet papers on its controversial decisions to repeatedly lower the Auckland alert ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on National’s less than stellar choices
    Amid all the jostling in the National caucus ranks, spare a thought for Andrew Bayly. Who? Well might you ask. Plucked from obscurity by Judith Collin, elevated from number 18 to number 3 in the caucus rankings and given the Finance portfolio – a role in which he has been ...
    4 days ago
  • Are New Zealand’s universities doing enough to define the limits of academic freedom?
    Matheson Russell, University of Auckland   The news last week that University of Auckland public health researcher Simon Thornley was retracting a co-authored paper about supposed vaccination risks during pregnancy raised deeper questions about the limits of academic freedom. Thornley’s own head of department had called for the paper to ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    4 days ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 26 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Jean Drage, Political scientist specialist in local government: “With 78 local authorities and central government currently intent on reform, local government is a challenging area of research to keep on top of. Thank goodness for Bryce’s NZ’s Politics Daily. It is a gem, especially as it also ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    4 days ago
  • Josh Van Veen: Bridges is not the one
    Simon Bridges failed to bluff Judith Collins out of the leadership. A campaign to rehabilitate his image began shortly after the election and culminated in the publication of a memoir in August. There were persistent rumours of a deal with rival Christopher Luxon and MPs from the ‘liberal’ wing of ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    4 days ago
  • Smokefree cars – an important step towards protecting children from the hazards of smoking
    Richard Edwards, Jude Ball, Janet Hoek, George Thomson, Nick Wilson*  On November 28 new legislation to protect children from smoking and vaping in cars will come into force. This blog sets out the background and rationale for the new law, and discusses implementation, evaluation and the next steps to protect ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    4 days ago
  • Judith's Last Stand.
    Going Out With All Guns Blazing: Why didn’t Judith Collins stick with the strategy that had kept her, National’s most improbable of leaders, in power for more than a year? One might just as well ask why Rob Muldoon (that other unforgiving right-wing populist National Party leader) got drunk and ...
    4 days ago
  • Act’s Precarious Ascendancy.
    On The Lookout: It is easy to imagine how closely Seymour has been watching the National Opposition for the slightest sign of a Clark figure emerging. A respected politician, who enjoys broad support across the party and, much more importantly, who impresses the ordinary centre-right voter as having what it ...
    5 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #47, 2021
    104 articles by 574 contributing authors Physical science of climate change, effects Delayed impacts of Arctic sea-ice loss on Eurasian severe cold winters Jang et al. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 10.1029/2021jd035286 Observations of climate change, effects Divergent responses of terrestrial carbon use efficiency to climate variation from 2000 ...
    5 days ago
  • Labour’s Eyes Wide Shut To “Unruly Tenants”.
    Not Seeing The Problem: They say there are none so blind as those who will not see. And, right now, Kāinga Ora is studiously not looking. It is clear to everyone that the Minister responsible, Poto Williams, has (like so many of her colleagues) been entirely captured by her officials. ...
    5 days ago
  • Is the mob coming for Charles Darwin?
    Richard Dawkins recently noted the giants of the past are being sanctimoniously judged by nonentities of the present whose only qualification is still being alive to do so. How will the future judge our own time when we are not around? Peter Franklin from Unherd examines whether the woke can ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • Blowing a Hole in Your Own Wall: Idiotic Tampering with MIQ
    Managed Isolation/Quarantine has been a fact of life for New Zealand for eighteen months. It’s not popular – there are only so many spaces available at any given time, and the process is famously opaque – but it is the key to saving New Zealand from rampant Coronavirus. That, ...
    5 days ago
  • Now Labour wants secret trials
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • The end of a toxic leader
    If there's one thing that Judith Collins is usually good at, it's using scandalous information about other people to her advantage. Not above undermining her own political party, Collins has been known to even leak against her own fellow MPs, particularly those who posed a threat to her as the ...
    5 days ago
  • A transformative government in Germany
    Back in September Germans went to the polls, and handed the politicians a tough job, with no easy majorities for anyone. The Social Democrats, Free Democrats, and Greens agreed to work together in a "traffic light" coalition, but given their political differences (its basicly ACT/Greens/Labour), expectations for real change were ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Political Harakiri
    The National party must always have known that they were taking a risk when they elected Judith Collins as leader. There were, after all, good reasons why they repeatedly declined to accept her candidature when she offered herself – as she frequently did. She was always an inappropriate person to ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    5 days ago
  • Thanksgiving advice, 2021: How to deal with climate change-denying Uncle Pete
    This is a re-post from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists by Richard Somerville “Birds of a feather flock together,” so I am sure that nearly all of those reading this article accept the main findings of climate science. Yet many people don’t. Instead, they believe a variety of climate ...
    5 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the demotion of Simon Bridges
    So Simon Bridges has been bounced from the front bench and stripped of his shadow portfolio responsibilities for the crudely “inappropriate” comments that he allegedly made to a female colleague, Jacqui Dean – and personally apologised for – about five years ago. After years of mocking Labour for its supposed ...
    5 days ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 25 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Dr Rosemary Wette, Associate Professor, Applied Linguistics, University of Auckland: “I’ve been browsing regularly through NZ Politics Daily for several months now. It gives me access to a range of views on current issues (helpfully organised by topic) that I wouldn’t otherwise have time to look up, or ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    5 days ago
  • The bizarre case of the Royal Society investigating academics defending science
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    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Ian Powell: Unionism and nursing in New Zealand
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    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    6 days ago
  • Bryce Edwards: Today’s constitutional disgrace in Parliament
    This Government has a problem with urgency. Critics from both left and right have long complained about their lack of urgency on issues such as climate change, housing, and inequality. Likewise, in terms of the Covid response, there’s been a chorus of criticism that Labour has been complacent and sluggish ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    6 days ago
  • Vaping needs much tighter regulation as we approach Smokefree Aotearoa 2025: Two new studies
    Nick Wilson, Janet Hoek, Jennifer Summers, Driss Ait Ouakrim, Andrew Waa, Richard Edwards, Tony Blakely* Two recent studies provide new insights into the impact vaping may have on public health. The first estimates that use of modern vaping devices could be around a third as harmful to health as smoking. ...
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    6 days ago
  • Strange Defeat: A Guest Post By Dr. Chris Harris.
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    6 days ago
  • More than 147km – the transformative potential of the Wellington bike network plan
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    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    6 days ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 24 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Liz Brown, Senior communications advisor, Association of Salaried Medical Specialists: “The NZ Politics Daily is a fabulous resource providing a comprehensive one stop shop on what’s making news and how stories are being covered. I look forward to seeing it pop into my inbox every morning.” Anyone can sign ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: Taking us for a ride
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: An industry in denial
    Over the past few years it has become clear that coal has no future in Aotearoa. Rising carbon prices, a ban on new boilers and a legislated phase-out for existing infrastructure are going to drive it out of the market. To reinforce this, the government signed up for an anti-coal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The “most open and transparent government ever” again
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Gordon Campbell on farmers playing the victim, plus Chile’s right turn
    Among the farming lobby groups, the good cop/bad cop routine has been working a treat. It suits Federated Farmers to keep daylight between itself and the Groundswell movement. Month in, year out the Federation continues to engage with the government over the very same water degradation/climate change regulations that Groundswell ...
    1 week ago
  • Important People
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    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Parliament, the Courts and the end of three strikes (for now)
    Last week, Parliament embarked on the process of repealing the so-called “three strikes” provisions in the Sentencing Act 2002. Given that Labour, the Greens and Te Paati Māori all supported this repeal Bill at first reading (and that NZ First no longer is in government to block the move), three strikes’ eventual legislative demise seems ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 23 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Martyn Bradbury, Editor, The Daily Blog “’NZ Politics Daily’ is one of the most important news and political resources run in New Zealand. The expert collation of opinion and news makes it an invaluable day to day resource as well as an incredible treasure for researchers in the future. ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand’s Emission Reduction Plan
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Dissing The Farmers.
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    1 week ago
  • How will carbon pricing impact inflation?
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    1 week ago
  • (Lack of) Public Service Announcement: The National Library of New Zealand, Internet Archive, and Al...
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    1 week ago
  • Game over for the HRPP
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Chinese influence and American hate diffusion.
    Over the last decade concerns have been raised about Chinese “influence operations” in NZ and elsewhere. Run by CCP-controlled “United Front” organisations, influence operations are designed to promote PRC interests and pro-PRC views within the economic and political elites of the targeted country as well as Chinese diaspora communities. The ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • The Real Interests Of The Country.
    Off Message: Into the extremely fraught relationship between Town and Country, the Groundswell organisers have blundered like an Aberdeen-Angus steer in an organic vege-shop. Unreasonably proud of their rural economic virtues, and dangerously forthright in their enumeration of the cities’ political vices, these Kiwi equivalents of America’s “good ole boys” ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ Politics Daily: 22 November 2021
    Today’s NZPD testimonial from Minna Reid, Law student, Victoria University of Wellington “As a Uni student, staying up to date with current affairs is always important. The Daily Politics & Democracy Project by Bryce Edwards is of great service for this. It offers varying news sources I would not have found myself ...
    Democracy ProjectBy bryce.edwards
    1 week ago
  • Free speech is a people’s frank confession to itself
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    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • 2021 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #47
    Listing of articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week: Sun, November 14, 2021 through Sat, November 20, 2021 The following articles sparked above average interest during the week: Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheeple? A.I. Maps 20 Years of Climate Conspiracies, COP Negotiators Demand Nations ...
    1 week ago
  • The F Words, by Barbara Gregorich
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    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • The Scourge of the Aimless Kick
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    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Delta Rocks Gibraltar: Lessons to be learned from Covid-19’s global resurgence.
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    1 week ago
  • I’ll take the masks and vaccines, thank you
    From Stuff:I don't want to be pedantic, but I'm pretty sure neither masks nor vaccines figure much in the Gospel of Saint John; nor has Jesus shown much efficacy in protecting people from anything. ...
    1 week ago
  • Hell To Pay: The alarming similarities between the Anti-Vaccination Movement and the creators of the...
    Never Let Go: If the violent prejudices of the Jim Crow South, echoing through contemporary struggles, teach us anything, it is that the defence of rationality, science and progressivism must never be allowed to falter. Those pre-modern night-riders, filled with unrelenting hate, are still out there. If the troops of ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A Peak Out of Auckland? + Other Covid Musings
    At last, we have some cause for optimism out of Auckland’s interminable Covid outbreak. Knowing our luck, it might be a false dawn… but there are some signs that we have seen the peak:
    2 weeks ago
  • Sing Song about Hard Times
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    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • A good problem to have
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the politics of anger, plus a music playlist
    Angry? Are you talkin’ to ME? Of late, the Code Red levels of resentment inspired by the government’s Covid policy almost make one hanker for the days when people could write best-selling books about New Zealanders being The Passionless People. Not anymore. A hissy fit arms race seems to be ...
    2 weeks ago

  • More Vietnam Veterans to receive compensation for Agent Orange Exposure
    Minister for Veterans, the Hon Meka Whaitiri announced today that two new conditions associated with Agent Orange exposure have been added to the Prescribed Conditions List. Under the 2006 Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Crown and representatives of Vietnam veterans and the Royal New Zealand RSA. Vietnam veterans in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Government commits to international effort to ban and regulate killer robots
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 hours ago
  • New freedom camping rules – right vehicle, right place
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Government invests to support a classic Kiwi summer
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Grace period for expired driver licences cruises into 2022
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Delivered: 1,000 extra transitional homes
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • Traffic light levels announced
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Financial support to move to traffic light system
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Ambassador to Russia announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Sarah Walsh as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Russia. “Aotearoa New Zealand and Russia have a long-standing relationship, engaging on a range of regional and global interests including disarmament and Antarctica issues. We also work together as members of the East ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Permanent Representative to the UN announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Carolyn Schwalger as Permanent Representative to the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. “Aotearoa New Zealand is a founding member of the UN and we have worked hard to ensure our stance on human rights, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Further COVID-19 economic support for Cook Islands and Fiji announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced a further package of support for the Cook Islands and Fiji for COVID-19 economic support and recovery. “Aotearoa New Zealand remains committed to supporting our Pacific fanau and vuvale to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 on their economies, and move towards long-term ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New law will clear the air for tamariki in vehicles
    From today, it’s illegal to smoke or vape in most vehicles carrying children aged under 18 years old - whether the vehicle is moving or not. “Second-hand smoke poses an unacceptable risk to our tamariki and rangatahi,” Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said. “We know children in vehicles ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Nine countries designated very high risk
    Nine southern African countries are being added to the very high risk countries list following public health advice around the newly discovered COVID-19 variant Omicron, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said. This afternoon, a public health risk assessment was carried out to assess the emerging evidence and any risk to ...
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    2 days ago
  • Foreign Affairs Minister concludes final stage of world trip
    Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta today departed North America to return home to Aotearoa, concluding the last stage of her 17-day world trip. The final leg of her trip saw her visit the United States of America and Canada for a number of high-level discussions. While in Washington D.C., ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Milestone launch of Pacific Languages Unit
    Today’s official launch of the Pacific Languages Unit is a milestone for our Pacific communities, the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio said. The Pacific Languages Unit brings together a new set of language supports within the Ministry for Pacific Peoples to provide advice, commission research, maintain standards, promote ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Public Health Lecture – University of Otago
    Public Health - Lessons from New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and opportunities for the future E nga mana, E nga reo,                                          E nga iwi. Tēna koutou katoa. Ka huri ki nga mana whenua o te rohe nei. Tēna koutou. He mihi hoki ki a tatou kua tau mai nei I raro I ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand statement on situation in Honiara, Solomon Islands
    Aotearoa New Zealand is deeply concerned by the events which have been unfolding in Honiara, Solomon Islands, since Wednesday. “New Zealand is a long-standing partner of Solomon Islands, and there are deep and enduring connections between our two countries,” Acting Foreign Affairs Minister David Parker said. “Our engagement in Solomon ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Nailed it! Over 500 apprentices get jobs boost
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Investment to support maternal mental health
    Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall has announced an investment to help expand maternal mental health services in five District Health Boards. “Supporting parent’s mental wellbeing during their child’s first 1000 days, from conception to two years of age, is critical to the long-term emotional, mental and physical wellbeing ...
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    4 days ago
  • Workplace vaccination requirements extended to cover Police and NZ Defence Force
    With the support of the organisations, additional vaccination requirements will cover sworn members, recruits and authorised officers of the New Zealand Police, and all New Zealand Defence Force staff. First doses of the vaccine for workers in these organisations are required by 17 January 2022, and second doses by 1 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Aotearoa New Zealand and Canada to pursue greater Indigenous collaboration
    During her visit to Ottawa, the Honourable Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs and Associate Minister for Māori Development, met with the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Canadian Minister of Indigenous Services, and the Honourable Marc Miller, Canadian Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, to further expand and develop the positive relationship ...
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  • Māori vaccination rates reach 80% first dose
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    ...
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