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The least popular weasel wins

Written By: - Date published: 9:55 am, August 27th, 2013 - 36 comments
Categories: australian politics - Tags: ,

In the odd moments that I have to view and write about politics outside NZ at present, I happened upon a Wall Street Journal article this morning about the election contest in aussie that got me thinking.

Australia is leaning toward electing its first conservative government in six years, to be led by a man considered by some to have been unelectable due to his tough conservative views on issues ranging from climate change to abortion and gay marriage.

Tony Abbott, leader of the opposition, goes into the Sept. 7 election with his backing parties in pole position. His Liberal National coalition has pulled clear of the center-left Labor government in opinion polls, after both sides were briefly tied as recently as three weeks ago.

That is certainly the case if you read the most recent Roy Morgan poll. The majority is likely to be small but enough

However it was the other part of the article that I found most interesting.

Still, many voters are cautious about Mr. Abbott, whose personal ratings continue to lag those of Mr. Rudd, even as opinion polls point toward a big victory for the Liberal National coalition. “He’s still unpopular, that’s the paradox,” said Zareh Ghazarian, a Melbourne-based political analyst at Monash University. “It highlights how, in the Australia system, we’re looking at the parties rather than the people leading them.”

Mr. Abbott was unavailable to be interviewed for this article.

The opposition leader’s record as health minister in the last conservative government under John Howard is unpopular with some voters, especially his views toward abortion. Younger Australians, in particular, dislike his stance on issues like global warming. Mr. Abbott once referred to arguments about the dangers of climate change as “absolute crap.” He also opposes same-sex marriages.

My italics. With the aussies I’ve met over the last couple of years, this is definitely the impression you get.  Even more than in NZ, the aussies are voting for what they consider are the most effective parties rather than the weasel running them. And they are both weasels and are generally perceived by the public there as being weasels.

As a political activist I don’t have a high opinion of Kevin Rudd. His erratic egocentricity and factional style of politics has effectively allowed the room for the Liberals to consolidate. It is not that the Liberals are popular because they are not. Especially amongst the australians less than 40, who find the conservatism and clear misogyny of the current Liberal party almost unfathomable to understand.

What is clear is that the Australian Labour caucus with its self-destructive fractionalisation and triumph of egotism in its caucus has managed to make themselves unelectable to the majority of voters. The Australian electorate will be voting against them. Ironically, from what I am hearing from activists over there, is that the party machinery, targeting and mobilisation is as good as I have ever heard about. It is entirely possible that they may be able to scrape a slim victory for the left simply because polling techniques are becoming increasingly less effective as the dominance of listed landlines diminishes.

However the media in Australia are (to put it mildly) strongly partisan in their own interests, just as they are here. But the NZ Herald’s self interested campaign against constraining advertising in the electoral reforms bill of 2007 is miniscule compared to the type of media campaigns that the media baron owned media do in aussie. They come down on the side of the interests of the money that own them with scare campaigns on everything from refugees to taxation on mining. They seize on any signs of fractures in a left-wing parties.

This type of personal self-indulgence inside a left wing caucus both here and there is something that doesn’t favour the cause that activists put their time and effort into. It is something that can be ill-afforded both here and obviously in Australia.

As I slowly drift away from being active in the Labour party and concentrate more on other more productive interests, it becomes more and more apparent to me how much I detest unproductive factionalism. I spent the 90’s largely ignoring it inside Labour and focused on the task of how to win elections. This got steadily more difficult through the noughts as the Labour party shuddered in a stasis to avoid it.

That was why I took to The Standard with such vigour slightly more than 6 years ago because here was a chance to do something outside of the stifling wasteland of an increasingly caucus centric party.

36 comments on “The least popular weasel wins”

  1. Progressive Paradox 1

    “detest unproductive factionalism. …. That was why I took to The Standard with such vigour slightly more than 6 years ago”

    Yes, because the writers of the standard certainly haven’t been advancing their own faction choice over the last few days have they? Please.

    • lprent 1.1

      Read the about.

      Authors write pretty much whatever they want. This means you are likely to get a range of views just as we did in the previous leadership debates back in 2011.

      Most of the ~45 odd authors are probably in wait and see mode.

      I suspect that many of the commenters are like that as well.

      Personally, I have a leaning towards Cunliffe simply because he has what I consider to be the requisite decade in parliament with significant ministerial experience. I also have reservations about him as being too inclined to being liked by everyone and saying what they want to hear. That is counter-balanced by his actual work record as a minister.

      Robertson worries me because he has had no ministerial experience, less than 5 years in parliament as an MP, and has displayed a monumental ignorance and lack of interest in how to win larger elections (Auckland is 35% of NZ’s population and he has been virtually unknown up here). I fear another experiment like David Shearer with a different shape and same result.

      But I will go and see what he has to say.

      Shane Jones is in my view a waste of time.

      • Progressive Paradox 1.1.1

        “This means you are likely to get a range of views just as we did in the previous leadership debates back in 2011.”

        On the front page, there is an article about how the union vote won’t necessarily go for Grant like claimed in the media, About how Cunliffe has “the moment of expectation”, that Shane Jones is the smoko room candidate (with NO mention of the fact that he is in Cunliffe’s campaign) and the same blogger who wrote this post writes, “Electorally this would be a effectively way of dragging “smoko room” votes to join to beltway votes.” which seems like another implicit endorsement of Cunliffe.

        I actually like Cunliffe and will probably vote for him and I like that the Standard bloggers can endorse whoever they want. But it seems to me that the majority of blog posts so far are overwhelmingly in the Cunliffe camp so claiming that “The Standard” is the bastion of breaking down factional barriers seems to me to be a load of tripe.

        • karol 1.1.1.1

          Many also say that they would like to see Robertson as deputy and the caucus united.

        • framu 1.1.1.2

          and if you looked at the front page on different days it will have different stuff

          i fail to see your point here

          • Progressive Paradox 1.1.1.2.1

            You’re right, but the point is that the articles re: Labour leadership are overwhelmingly pro-Cunliffe, as I say I don’t have a problem with that. I have a problem with the author saying that the Standard somehow breaks down factional barriers.

            • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.2.1.1

              I have a problem with the author saying that the Standard somehow breaks down factional barriers.

              Please point where the author actually says this. I can’t see it.

              • Progressive Paradox

                “detest unproductive factionalism. …. That was why I took to The Standard with such vigour slightly more than 6 years ago”

                • Colonial Viper

                  So the author doesn’t actually say that The Standard breaks down factional barriers. You’ve simply taken a possible implication and run with it.

                • lprent

                  That doesn’t say that it breaks down fractional barriers. The key word is “unproductive”. Disagreement is useful. That is how you discover better techniques to get from the current position to the desired objectives, and even to find out what those objectives should be. Not learning from it is unproductive and getting into little defensive circles with small groups only talking to each other is simply useless.

                  I’m interested in making sure that people argue about and are aware of each others arguments. Not only inside the NZLP, but also across the broader labour/left movement.

                  That is what the about states. That is what we do. We don’t expect agreement – even between authors. In fact we encourage disagreement – it is more interesting and informative when coupled with behavioural constraints.

                  What we’re interested in is getting rid of the bloody awful siloing that the left has been prone to over the years.

                  BTW: I’m pretty much a faction of one, as I’m sure that many will attest. I rarely get involved in politics outside of operations. However I’m known for expressing my personal opinions bluntly, forthrightly, and with malice aforethought (diplomacy isn’t one of my interests).

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.3

          majority of blog posts so far are overwhelmingly in the Cunliffe camp so claiming that “The Standard” is the bastion of breaking down factional barriers seems to me to be a load of tripe.

          Firstly “factional barriers” are Labour Caucus and Labour leadership (in the wider sense of the word “leadership”) generated. They’re very little to do with The Standard.

          Secondly, have you written and submitted a pro Robertson or Jones post yourself, to The Standard? It doesn’t need to be long. Put down 200 words and make the case for Robertson or Jones.

          Thirdly, this is politics. People choose sides and back teams. Rallying cries of “unity for the greater good” don’t hold much water. Especially when the people saying them don’t seem to believe in the “greater good” themselves.

          • Progressive Paradox 1.1.1.3.1

            Firstly, I don’t disagree but these are re enforced by Labour membership and left-wing blogs.

            Secondly,I wouldn’t as I said I’m personally leaning towards Cunliffe.

            Thirdly, this seems to contradict your earlier points and doesn’t reflect my comment at all. I’m just saying that the authors of the standard seem pretty pro-Cunliffe and I don’t think it was the best place to write an article decrying factionalism.

            Also, this isn’t just something I’ve come up with. My local Labour MP mentioned their opinion that most of the Standard’s bloggers were in the Cunliffe camp.

            • Tracey 1.1.1.3.1.1

              Is it factionalism to express support for a particular leader? Or are you saying the people expressing support for Cunnliffe here undermined Shearer when he was leader and thus were part of the factionalising they decry?

            • karol 1.1.1.3.1.2

              The support for Cunliffe is noticeable here because it goes against the line spun by the ABCs via the MSM. Cunliffe also has been getting more support than Robertson in MSM and other polls. So, actually, the support of Cunliffe (allegedly) by the majority of Standardistas, is actually pretty much in line with the polls of the wider population.

              Gordon Campbell on the political factions in Labour & National:

              The notion that Labour in Opposition is somehow inherently more divided than National really is nonsense. National, at the best of times, has always been split between its traditional rural conservatives and its radical urban neo-liberals – and give National five minutes in Opposition and those divisions become screamingly apparent. In the not too distant future, the jostling and the undermining between the Joyce faction and the Collins faction will match and mirror any current divisions in the Labour ranks. That will be so, regardless of whether the current declarations of unity between the Labour contestants are genuine, or not.
              […]
              Keep that in mind over the next few weeks as you hear National MPs parrotting the lines of their leader about the divisions in Labour’s ranks. Not true. Eleven years ago, Bill English was the National Party’s equivalent of David Shearer. Then National changed its leader, got on the comeback trail, and lo, the divisions closed over and were heard from no more. Until next time.

              • expatriot

                +1 to this. I remember when coup rumours started swirling around Goff, the media were quick to point out Labour’s history of infighting etc…, as if it had been Labour who had rolled a sitting Prime Minister in their previous term in office, parachuted in an extremist mascarading as a ‘mainstream New Zealander’ to replace the ineffectual policy wonk they had as leader (under threat of the money disappearing) and later leaked private emails to the media to facillitate the replacement of the extremist with the toupee’d multi-millionaire ‘man of the people’ they have in charge now.

      • pollywog 1.1.2

        Shane Jones is in my view a waste of time.

        …and space. He’s the equivalent of a political black hole!

        If the Labour party cross that event horizon by electing him leader, expect all the light to be sucked out of it and all information entering him to be lost and reconstituted as garbled mish mash.

        In my not so humble opinion 🙂

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    That was why I took to The Standard with such vigour slightly more than 6 years ago because here was a chance to do something outside of the stifling wasteland of an increasingly caucus centric party.

    That’s a money quote, right there.

  3. Bill 3

    A bit of a follow on from comments made on this topic yesterday Lynn.

    Factionalism and power struggles in a caucus that is built around individuals – and that fails to espouse concrete principles or values – is almost inevitable and, of course, destructive.

    But in a caucus constructed around clear principles and values, is it not then sensible to insist that people either a) get on the bus or b) take a hike?

    Otherwise, the risk is that the dynamics of factionalism present in a caucus built around individuals/personalities will eventually become reasserted – meaning that any momentum gained by basing policy on core principles/values will stall and be lost.

    Like I commented two or three days ago – all too often the ‘good guy’ cuts the ‘bad guy’ some slack…just enough for the ‘bad guy’ to wrap around the ‘good guy’s’ neck at some later date. So, whereas some brutal clear-out would be insane and counter productive, I firmly believe that if values are going to be rediscovered by Labour and policies based on those values elevated, then it’s necessary that everyone in caucus has genuinely bought in to some degree or other.

    As for the others? Time to catch another bus, no?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      As for the others? Time to catch another bus, no?

      Basically. The Labour Party has been used as a vehicle by people with too little belief in Labour ideals, for far too long.

      • Bill 3.1.1

        Well, that’s kind of my point. And I’m curious as to how that will be dealt with. Vacuous announcements of ‘loyalty’ to the leader only plays into the ‘caucus hanging from individual/personality’ bullshit all over again and sets the scene for factional power struggles in the future. As to how you judge the genuine level of ‘buy in’ of any given individual (assuming a return to core values and principles) is a tricky one, but one that has to be tackled imo.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.2

        The concept of a Broad Church does not necessitate that Labour maintains a “neoliberal sector” or “lifetime careerist sector” amongst its caucus or members.

    • lprent 3.2

      Bill: drat, you just reminded me that I had something to reply back to you. I’ll look it up tonight… busy busy…

      The “take a hike” route invariably just goes down the religious schism route as the nutters keep finding smaller and smaller things to obsess about (and expel others for). Eventually it winds up as discussions about how you hold your pinkie while eating or the differences between sunni and shi-ite, or the strange doctrination differences between socialists in the late 19th century (or any other religious or political or social division you care to name).

      I’d agree that a general set of agreed principles is a good idea. But for any kind of broad movement these will be equally broad – because otherwise it is a narrow movement. The probability of getting two people to agree on a whole range of specifics is about as likely as it is in any marriage.

      So creative tension between people about the ways for proceeding from A to B are just inevitable. The trick is to figure out how to use those creatively without it spilling over into excessive inter-personal conflict. Most of the time this comes down to a set of accepted rules to confine the inevitable conflicts to being useful.

      So no. I think you’re wrong on this.

      • Bill 3.2.1

        So no. I think you’re wrong on this.

        Nah. No I’m not. 🙂 Look at it this way. Any political organisation requires a degree of genuine buy-in by participants. It’s not a case of how much or how pure – so in extra parliamentary activism, that could range from signing a petition or tooting a horn through to giving up free time to attend to organisational requirements etc.

        A crucial difference though – unlike the case of parliament and its salaries – there is no real incentive to be cunning or sly or dishonest about your involvement. The involvement of people is generally genuine – undercover cops or someone involved because they have the hots for somebody aside.

        Now I know that the more cult like left orgs get into this whole ‘holier than thou’ bullshit and ‘I’m toeing and understanding the party line better than you’, nonsense. I think that’s what you have in mind in your comment above and, insofar as that’s the case, I agree with you on where that winds up.

        But since I’m more interested in what you term ‘broad churches’ and getting as much involvement and participation from as many people as possible, the problem for me is protecting the integrity of that broad church by avoiding capture by personalities and cliques while also resisting dilution of core values via the adoption of lowest common denominators in the name of ‘unity’.

        So, where in extra parliamentary politics you might ease out the person who’s only there because they want into the pants of who-ever, so it has to be with the Labour Party for those in caucus who aren’t there for any of the right reasons.

        • lprent 3.2.1.1

          So, where in extra parliamentary politics you might ease out the person who’s only there because they want into the pants of who-ever, so it has to be with the Labour Party for those in caucus who aren’t there for any of the right reasons.

          That is a current question, hopefully with some kind of resolution coming up later this year.

          In the past with electorate seats you’d find that the selection became contested or the MP would lose their seat if they weren’t meeting the needs of their local membership and/or electorate. It didn’t happen often but it sure as hell was a bit of a permanent threat in electorates. MP’s in a large part became reflections of a goodly part of their electorates/membership or they didn’t survive. It didn’t mean that they reflected teh party as a whole. For instance think Damien O’Conner or George Hawkins or Helen Clark or Lianne Dalziel. Each are quite different to each other, have worked hard to retain majorities, and in large part they listen very carefully to their electorates.

          The problem in the NZLP and other parties under MMP is that the list selection rather than becoming place to bring new people on board, instead became a lifeboat for failed MPs. Personally I think that there is a place for electorate MP’s to be on the list is they found a home in a very marginal electorate. Someone who had a large majority shouldn’t be on the list at all. It gives them an incentive to work on retaining their majority. Mt Albert hasn’t been a natural labour electorate since I was a kid there, and especially since the widescale boundary changes from 1996 onwards. However both Warren Freer and Helen Clark managed to make it a safe Labour seat.

          The real question is how the MP’s and candidates get on the list. Right now there is little or no relationship between what goes on in selection meetings and what comes out at the end. It seems to most who get involved in it at regionals that they put in a list and then something completely unrelated to *any* regional list comes out. Hopefully that will get cleared up at conference. We see a series of golden parachutes instead for factional alliances..

  4. tc 4

    Yup it’s quite head shaking that Abbott will likely be PM in Oz, a barking loon let in by a self destructing labor party who simply can’t get to grips with the reality most of the hard work was done by Hawke/Keating/Button in the 80’s and 90’s.

    This laid the foundation of broader tax base (FBT, CGT) and compulsory super which saw Oz forge ahead, sure the minerals boom helped but there’s no taxes from it flowing into roads, schools etc as that’s PAYE/state taxes on property stamp duty etc doing that.

    The Lib’s added GST under johnny H.

    The minerals boom helped sections of Oz and it’s balance of payments but make no mistake the broader tax base and making people self fund their retirement are massive assists in balancing a gov’ts books.

    Kev will go close, that’s why he’s their as polling was predicting a slaughter under Gillard.

    • lprent 4.1

      Oh I agree that it will be close. However I think that much of the reason that Gillard was in trouble was because the Rudd effect was still stirring on a back boiler over the whole current term

      • Murray Olsen 4.1.1

        Rudd and Abbott have one thing in common – they will both do anything to be PM. Due to the way they read the Australian electorate, this includes a lot of obscenely bad rubbish such as refugee policy and intervention in the Northern Territory. The difference is that this obscenely bad rubbish is at the core of LNP beliefs, whereas Rudd can only adopt it by weakening the values of Labor. Australia really needs to rebuild the ALP, just as Kiwis need to rebuild Labour. I think Cunliffe is the right person to do it in Aotearoa, but I have no idea who can lead and inspire a rebuild of the ALP. Maybe Penny Wong, but she doesn’t seem to have the number of personality defects required when you look at Rudd, Gillard, Latham, Beazley…….

    • SHG (not Colonial Viper) 4.2

      I know some good people in the ALP, reasonably high up the food chain. At a recent function – yes, it was a barbecue – one of the attendees, a sitting MP, confided to me that many in the party regard a narrow defeat as the best possible outcome. It sounds like a big chunk of the ALP would rather lose than have Rudd as Prime Minister. Their own Leader.

  5. Greywarbler 5

    Cripes that graph looks like my 3 year grandchild’s art work! Full marks for colour and modern, edgy design.

    the stifling wasteland of an increasingly caucus centric party.
    …an increasingly party-centric party. And outside Party Centre the hoi polloi mill disconsolately noses pressed to the glass watching the streamers fly and a brief blooming of political vitality then a gradual reversion through the seasons back to wasteland.

    We must make the desert bloom and stay blooming well on the job.

  6. JonL 6

    “Kev will go close, that’s why he’s their as polling was predicting a slaughter under Gillard.”

    Trouble is, he’s acting like a cornered chook looking for the escape hole in the cage from an axe wielding Coalition party, flinging harebrained policies around like chaff! Mind you, Abbotts “we’ll solve the people smuggling problem by buying all the boats” must take the cake for sheer loonyness!

    The Libs are trying to place themselves as “fiscally responsible”, but, if the State governments are anything to go by, nothing could be further from the truth! And Abbot’s fronting grandiose schemes involving tens of Billions of dollars, whilst saying he’ll lower taxes, personal and company!!!! So, rightly so, everyone is saying “where will the money come from” and we all know where – the standard slash and burn tactics the right usually employ on the average citizenry whilst enriching the already rich “to stimulate the job market”. Bollocks.
    People here are voting against Labour (thanks Rupert Murdoch) , no-one likes the Greens (thanks Rupert Murdoch) and are very uneasy about the Lib/Nats but feel they don’t really have a choice (thanks again Rupert Murdoch)

  7. Sable 7

    Abbotts a baboon. It would be very bad for Australia if that creep wins. He’s every bit as bad as Keys.

  8. Mjoy 8

    I have just finished reading Kerry-Anne Walsh’s book, “The Stalking of Julia Gillard: How the Media and Team Rudd Brought down the Prime Minister”. Worth reading, because of what it reveals about the unethical behaviour of the Aussie MSM. Worth remembering that those same Aussie media companies dominate the NZ News market. Rudd and Abbott are both weasels and Murdoch is very dangerous.

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    As the first week of Level Four lockdown unfolded, mounting questions grew as to just what was (and was not) allowed under its “rules”. Partly these were driven by some apparently contradictory messages from different authority figures and explanations carried in the media. Partly they reflected a somewhat sketchy legal basis ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    3 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 9
    . . April 3: Day 9 of living in lock-down… Another late-start to my work day. Everything is temporarily upended as clients are shuffled around so we can minimise our “bubble” by reducing the number of people we help. One of my colleagues has been removed from his clients; his ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    3 days ago
  • Death to our lockdown enemies!
    We must root out the traitors among us! ...
    Imperator FishBy Scott Yorke
    4 days ago
  • Climate Change: The benefits of electrification
    In order to meet our 2050 carbon target and do our bit to avoid making the Earth uninhabitable, New Zealand needs to decarbonise our economy, replacing fossil fuels with electricity in the energy, industrial and transport sectors. The good news is that it will mean cheaper power for all of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 8 (sanitised version)
    For those folk who find my other Lock-Down Diary versions too “negative” or otherwise unpalatable… Here’s a photo of a pretty flower, .   . Better? Tomorrow’s Sanitised Version: a cute animal video. . . . =fs= ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 8
    . . April 2: Day eight of living in lock-down… Today, my work day starts late. Our rosters and clients have been dramatically changed, lessening (theoretically) the number of people in our work “bubble”.  If just one of us catches covid19 the impact could be considerable as Grey Base Hospital ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • A note on apartments and bubbles
    As Aotearoa enters week two of lockdown, it’s clear we’re all still working out what our “bubbles” look like and how to stay in them to stop the spread of Covid-19. New to the government’s Covid-19 website is some good guidance for people living in apartment blocks. Recent decades have ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    4 days ago
  • Getting in futures shape 
    “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” Lenin Don’t we all know that feeling now.

    Prospect Magazine alerted me to this particularly apt quote. It is a much more evocative quote than Hemingway’s “gradually then suddenly” which is also doing ...

    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    4 days ago
  • Maybe axing Clark would be unfair. But what about any of this is fair?
    Yesterday was the day the consequences of the lockdown suddenly got very real for many. Firms have been closing and laying people off since the outset of the quarantine but this has mostly been happening out of the public eye. The mass closure of a number of iconic New Zealand ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    4 days ago
  • Might a ‘Coasean’ social contract mitigate overall societal harm from COVID-19?
    Brian Williamson1, Prof Nick Wilson2 (1Economic consultant, UK; 2University of Otago Wellington) In this blog, we outline how a win-win social contract could be forged to address the major dimensions of response to the COVID-19 pandemic when using a mitigation strategy: the particular need to protect older people from high ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    4 days ago
  • Returning To “Normalcy”.
    Resuming Normal Service: The Republican Party's nominee for in 1920, Warren Harding, promised the American people: “not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration”. If she wishes to remain our prime minister, then Jacinda Ardern will offer New Zealanders the same.HOW EDUCATED AMERICA snickered when the ...
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand’s Government Must Save New Zealand’s Media.
    No Free Society Without A Free And Functioning News Media: If we are to surrender our civil rights to the broader cause of defeating Covid-19, then foreign corporations must, likewise, surrender their right to inflict immense economic and cultural harm on New Zealanders simply because it improves their bottom line.I’M ...
    4 days ago
  • Corona fevers and the madness of models
    by Daphna Whitmore A third of the world is under lockdown and a clear assessment of this measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 is urgently needed.  With any high-stakes decisions it has to be asked what are we dealing with here? Are the measures warranted? Will they achieve their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Lockdown day 8
    I haven’t done a huge amount in the last few days. I’m reading The Poppy War and I’ve sort of poked at a couple of games – I started SOMA but I’m a wimp and I quit while in the first room after the brain scan. I might try it ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    5 days ago
  • Backstage and Theatre
    The swan politicians may be gliding on the water, occasionally snapping at one another. Meanwhile, as the Covid19 crisis illustrates, the officials are desperately paddling below providing the real locomotion. One of the most fatuous recent grandstanding comments (of about a week ago), adding to the public’s anxieties, was ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    5 days ago
  • Legal Beagle: Waiver, the singular Crown and the conduct of Crown legal business
    Much has been written about the importance of discretion in an emergency situation, and the concerns raised by the potential for it to be exercised arbitrarily. Given the quality of the discussion, there seemed little point in adding to it at any length. In particular, I point to the evidence ...
    5 days ago
  • Highlights from Bauer Media’s science-related reporting
    Today has felt surreal. I was all set to touch base online with my science communication students when a colleague shared the news that Bauer Media would be shutting down its publications immediately. The first link I saw implied it was Woman’s Weekly affected, and even that shocked me. But ...
    SciBlogsBy Sarah-Jane O'Connor
    5 days ago
  • Outsiders.
    Bogeymen, Real And Imagined: Is the number of psychopathic and sociopathic individuals in any given society truly as vanishingly small as we like to tell ourselves? Isn’t it more likely that the mass-shooters and serial-killers filling the headlines represent only the tip of a much, much larger iceberg of frightfulness? ...
    5 days ago
  • We have a right to know the rules we are expected to obey
    Outgoing Police Commissioner Mike Bush appeared before the Epidemic Response Committee today, who asked him for the rules police are using to enforce the lockdown. He refused:Police Commissioner Mike Bush has admitted the advice given to Kiwis about what they're able to do during the lockdown hasn't been clear enough. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)
    For those folk who find my other Lock-Down Diary versions too “negative” or otherwise unpalatable… Here’s a photo of my cat, . . Better? Tomorrow’s Sanitised Version: a pretty flower. . . . =fs= ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7
    . . April 1: Day seven of living in lock-down… This morning I had a brief chat with one of my neighbours, “D” (social distance between us, a good three or four metres). I learned he had resigned from his previous job and had been hired by another company – ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • RIP The Listener, New Zealand’s pioneering voice
    Funnily enough, my thought as I start this post is whether it will be well written enough. Or should that be well enough written? Because so much of what I know about good writing came from my two stints at The Listener, which this morning was shut down due to ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    5 days ago
  • OK, Britney: stop sniping at National for doing its job
    With normal democratic procedures in abeyance, there were two ways to go. First, it was open for the government to dissolve itself and invite the National Party to join a ministry of national salvation. That would have lessened the democratic deficit of the times by having a team of rivals without ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    5 days ago
  • Helpful tips for parents during lockdown
    Dr Kirsty Ross Children and young people can respond differently in times of distress. This also varies by age and developmental stage, with younger children having more magical and imaginative thinking, and older children having more awareness and knowledge of the issues our communities are facing (which brings up ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    5 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #13, 2020
    6 days ago
  • Hungary is now a dictatorship
    Hungary has been a virtual dictatorship for a decade now, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has gradually eroded its democracy. But now, its official, with the passage of an indefinite emergency law allowing rule by decree:Hungary’s parliament has passed a new set of coronavirus measures that includes jail terms for ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • A new Ministry of Works
    While the economy is on pause under lockdown, the government is beginning to plan how to cope with the post-lockdown, post-tourism, post-export education world we will eventually find ourselves in. They're planning a lot of infrastructure spending as economic stimulus, and have asked for proposals which can start the moment ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Capture: Well spaced out
    It's my distraction,  setting up tiny scenes to photograph.  I've got stuck on the Babushka dolls for now.  Something about their bubble shape.  Something about their never changing, smiling features, suggesting persistent equanimity.  Can we get through everything that is being thrown at us and keep at least a tiny ...
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 6
    . . March 31: Day six of living in lock-down… This time I managed to sleep a little longer and the alarm woke me at the pre-set time: 6.55am. Then remembered I was working a later shift and could’ve slept in. Oh well, there are things to do at home. ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • March ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: Diamond Harbour School Blogs I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your blog is unexpectedly missing or ...
    6 days ago
  • Hard News: Poll Pot and the partisans
    Yesterday's Horizon poll showing support for a "Yes" vote in this year's cannabis referendum sliding into the majority for the first time in a year looked like good news for reformers – and it probably is. But the result warrants some scrutiny.The poll is the fifth in a series commissioned ...
    6 days ago
  • Why those bubbles are so important
    For almost a week now, every one of us who isn’t an essential worker has been confined to their bubble. We are allowed to go shopping for groceries, to visit the doctor, and to get a bit of exercise if we stay local. The reason we are doing this is ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    6 days ago
  • A Government System That Works
    The Covid-19 saga will no doubt produce many twists and turns for us before it is finally brought to an end. But one thing it has shown us – and what comfort it should bring us – is that our country’s government is in good hands. I am not thinking ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    6 days ago
  • Smashing down the barriers: Where are we at with COVID vaccines?
    In the absence of a vaccine or a cure for a deadly disease, staying home in your bubble is what you do, the concept is not new.  To the best of my knowledge last time we did this in NZ was for polio, in the years before a vaccine came ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    7 days ago
  • National Network on Cuba (USA): “Cuban medical solidarity is a pillar of its society and is founde...
    The following statement was released on March 28 by the National Network on Cuba, a coalition of 40 groups, based in the United States. In recent weeks, Cuba has deployed hundreds of medical providers to over a dozen countries in Europe, Asia, as well as to their neighbors in Latin ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    7 days ago
  • Alarming decrease in calves increases fears for endangered Hector’s dolphin
    This has been a terrible summer for Hector’s dolphins. The first indication was very low numbers of dolphin sightings during late spring and early summer. The Otago University Marine Mammal Research Team has carried out routine dolphin surveys at Banks Peninsula for more than 30 years. In all that time, ...
    SciBlogsBy Otago Marine Science
    7 days ago
  • Time for Grant Robertson to reveal package #2?
    On March 17, Finance Minister Grant Robertson was quick out of the blocks with an economic rescue package to help businesses through the inevitable recession resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Robertson had pulled together a scheme in short order that so far seems to have saved many jobs. In his ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    7 days ago
  • Saving lives
    The purpose of the lockdown is to save lives, by reducing the spread of covid-19. We won't know if its really working for another week, but given the devastation that will result if it doesn't - 14,000 dead is the optimistic scenario - its definitely worth trying. But pausing the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 5
    . . March 30: Day five of living in lock-down… Woke up still in darkness. Alarm hadn’t gone off. Turn to radio clock; it’s a few minutes after 6am… I lie there in the dark, waiting to drift off to sleep… but it ain’t happening. Clock ticks over to 6.55 ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Les Gray: the man who told the truth
    The story of Les Gray, the public sector psychologist who told the truth about his use of cannabis and set off a storm, has a special place in the lore of cannabis reform in New Zealand.When Paul Shannon interviewed Gray for the 'Dope and Hope' issue of Planet magazine in ...
    1 week ago
  • Why now? Historical specificity and the perfect storm that has created trans identity politics
    by Phil Duncan For Marxists, a key concern about social trends is their context – not just their causes, but why they happen when they do.  Events and phenomena have causes, but they also are time or period-specific. While much of the left have capitulated recently to postmodernism, most notably ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Time for a living wage for supermarket workers
    Since the lockdown began, we've all suddenly been reminded who the actually essential workers in our society are: not the people at the top who pay themselves the big bucks and rort the perks, but the people at the bottom they screw over and squeeze: cleaners, warehouse staff, truck drivers ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Hard News: MUSIC: Lockdown Grooves
    Kia ora! As I've watched nearly all my remaining work vanish over the past couple of days, it has occured to me that one good way to keep me away from arguing with fools on Twitter all the time (in the knowledge that all we're really doing is processing our ...
    1 week ago
  • A place of greater safety?
    Aotearoa New Zealand has committed to trying to extirpate the virus that causes COVID-19 from its shores. To do that, as a society we’ve moved to “Level 4”. That means adapting to unprecedented restrictions on our personal freedoms, particularly to our rights to move freely and associate with friends and ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • The police and public trust
    When the Prime Minister declared a state of emergency last week, she handed the police powers to enforce it. And almost immediately, we started hearing about heavy-handed, arbitrary "enforcement" by police who (at best) cared more about order than law, or (more likely) had no idea what the rules were ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 4
    . . Lock Down: Day 4 – A photo essay with observations . March 29: Usual wake up routine as RNZ snaps on my radio-clock. Jim Mora’s voice slowly enters my conciousness; there’s talk of a second wave of covid19 taking hold in South Korea; the week in Parliament – ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19 vs New Zealand
    Yesterday, New Zealand recorded its first Covid-19 related death on the West Coast. Unfortunately this is unlikely to be the only fatality, with the virus now being found in every region of the country.However despite the significant danger, people are still unfortunately breaching lockdown rules.There’s really only one main very ...
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #13
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... ‘Misinformation kills’: The link between coronavirus conspiracies and climate denial   Grist / Rob Kim / Stringer / CSA Images  Scientific ...
    1 week ago
  • Rāhui day 4
    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
    1 week ago
  • Letter to a friend
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 3
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    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week 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, ...
    1 week 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
    1 week ago

  • Government helps Pacific communities fight COVID
    The Government is stepping up efforts to help protect New Zealand’s Pacific communities in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet has agreed that $17 million will be allocated to support a COVID-19 Pacific Response Package, which will: Support Pacific health and disability services facing increased demand; Ramp up public health messaging ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • Statement from the Prime Minister on Dr David Clark
    “Yesterday evening the Health Minister advised me of his trip to a beach during the lockdown and offered his resignation,” Jacinda Ardern said.  “Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses.  “But right now, my priority is our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Statement from David Clark
    Last night as part of my preparation for the Epidemic Response Committee, I provided the Prime Minister with a complete picture of my activity outside my home during Alert Level 4.  That included the fact that on the first weekend of the Alert Level 4 lockdown I drove my family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • COVID-19 mental health support begins
    A range of support is being rolled out across New Zealand to help people look after their mental health during COVID-19 Health Minister David Clark said this morning. “COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty into our lives and many of us will be feeling some level of distress or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 hours ago
  • New Zealanders in Peru to be assisted by Government charter flight
    The New Zealand Government has made arrangements to charter a flight for New Zealanders stranded in Peru to depart the country, following agreement with the Chilean government to allow the necessary transit through Chile, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced today. “Like many travellers around the world at the moment, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • COVID-19 Hospital Preparation Well Advanced
    Hospital preparations for COVID-19 are well advanced says Health Minister David Clark. “Hospitals across New Zealand are repurposing buildings and training staff to get ready for COVID-19 patients. This gives me confidence that we are well prepared for any potential increase in COVID-19 patients needing hospital level care,” said David ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Further measures to support businesses
    The Government will be introducing legislation to make changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency due to COVID-19 to remain viable and keep New Zealanders in jobs. The temporary changes include: Giving directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems because of COVID-19 a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt’s COVID plan, economic strength recognised
    The Government’s plan to cushion the blow of COVID-19 by supporting incomes, jobs and businesses, and position the economy to recover has been backed by another international report. International credit rating agency Moody’s today reaffirmed its highest Aaa credit rating on New Zealand, saying the economy is expected to remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Funding certainty for sports through COVID-19
    National sports organisations have been given certainty of funding to ensure they can remain viable through the COVID-19 pandemic, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “The global spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on sport and recreation in New Zealand, including the cancellation or postponement of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Butchers now allowed to process pork
    Changes have been made to allow butchers to process pork, only for supply to supermarkets or other processors or retailers that are open, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced. “We carefully weighed the risk of allowing butchers to open their shops for retail customers, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Essential workers leave scheme established
    Essential workers who take leave from work to comply with public health guidance are being supported with a leave scheme to ensure they will continue to receive income, say the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway and Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. A number of essential businesses ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Govt WhatsApp helps share COVID-19 information
    A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. Govt.NZ, which is free to use on any mobile device, will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government. It can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit
    The Government has announced a plan to enable the safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands of stranded foreign nationals from New Zealand during the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said. “When we moved into lockdown a week ago, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government delivers COVID-19 support to GPs and Pharmacies
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Government is delivering on its commitment to support general practice doctors and nurses, and pharmacies on the front-line of our fight against COVID-19. "For us to overcome COVID-19, we need community health services such as general practice and community pharmacy to step up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Susan Thomas the new Chief High Court Judge
    Justice Susan Thomas has been appointed Chief High Court Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  She replaces Justice Geoffrey Venning who has resigned from the position.   David Parker paid tribute to Justice Venning, who he said had stewarded the High Court very capably over the last five years.   “On behalf ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    7 days 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
    7 days 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
    7 days ago
  • Supermarkets able to open on Easter Sunday
    The Government is ensuring supermarkets can open on Easter Sunday so we can buy groceries, but stay closed on Good Friday allowing workers to take a break. This provides a balanced approach and ensures we avoid large queues that two days closure may cause. “Supermarkets will be able to open ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days 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 week 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 week 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 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
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  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
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