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Man for all seasons – book review

Written By: - Date published: 8:42 pm, November 7th, 2010 - 12 comments
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“Man for all Seasons” is the title of David Grant’s authorised biography of Ken Douglas ONZ. The choice of title puzzled me – “A Man for all Seasons” is the title of Robert Bolt’s award-winning play about Sir (later Saint) Thomas More, whose refusal to endorse Henry VIII’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon led him inexorably to the scaffold. The original comment about More’s conviviality was made by one of his contemporaries. Both More and Douglas were showered with honours by the rulers of their time, but by contrast with the uxorious More, Grant’s book makes clear that when it came to relationships with women Douglas was no saint. As for constancy of principle, while More always knew his steadfast courage would cost him his life, Grant reports that Employers Federation President Steve Marshall’s summary verdict on Douglas was that “Ken won’t die in a ditch.”

David Grant is at pains to point out that he has aimed for a “warts-and-all” biography. He is a prolific historian, including a recent history of the Titahi Bay Golf Club, where Douglas was long-term President, and this is his first biography. Ken Douglas is an engaging, interesting, powerful and sometimes mesmerising personality, but I think Grant’s book also has a tinge of “warts-and-all” hagiography. For example, on the first page after summarising the complexities of Douglas’ character and the apparent paradoxes of his life, his critics are dismissed as “emotional” without elaboration or explanation. This is ironic as the book subsequently makes clear that Douglas’ crucial decisions and choices were by his own admission based on emotion – from a “kick in the guts” from his unionist grandfather at the start of his career, to his decision to join the communist party because of his opposition to racism in rugby.

The danger with rose-tinted biography is that it can lead to air-brushed history. One is struck by the relative absence of comment or alternative viewpoints from most of Douglas’ union contemporaries, in contrast to the profusion of those from his later time on boards and councils. Some of the key union leaders such as Bill Andersen and Pat Kelly, with whom Douglas clashed, are no longer with us. But there are many others with whom he worked who are still here. I would have liked to have heard more of their views, as they could have made for a more rounded picture. Besides the lack of contemporaries’ comment, the book has many basic errors of fact.

In his summing-up, the author states that Douglas’ reputation is ultimately based on his role as a central leader in the union movement over the last quarter of the twentieth century, and it is on this that he should be remembered. Based on the loss of members and bargaining strength in unions at the time Grant says “many have argued that Douglas was a failure. But this is short-sighted. Many of the key factors were outside his control.” He goes on to give his own verdict. “In evolutionary terms, Douglas was the ideal man for the times – with the ability, perspicacity and thick skin needed to act as the conduit between the old-style ‘factory floor’ unionism of Skinner and Knox and the more complex requirements of his university-educated successors in a more sophisticated technology-based workplace and deregulated labour market.”

Nobody – well almost nobody – in the union movement would ever have wanted Ken Douglas to die in a ditch; but in my view the critical question is to assess how well he fought from the ditch in the interests of working people; or as he would have put it, how well he defended the class interest. In particular, how did he handle the issues that were under his control. The strategic role of unions was the basic issue played out over Douglas’ time at the head of the movement. His ambition was clear and frequently and powerfully articulated – he saw unions and particularly the central union organisation as full partners with government and employers in setting the country’s economic and social direction. Two things however are important to make the connection between ambition and achievement; firstly choices made at critical conjunctures, and secondly leadership style.

It is often the early choices that are the most crucial. One such was Douglas’s decision in the mid-1980’s to remain as Secretary of the Federation of Labour under Jim’s Knox’s presidency, instead of taking up the presidency himself and bringing in Rob Campbell as Secretary. That had been Campbell’s understanding and expectation. I was the Labour Party’s Trade Union liaison officer at the time and was in Campbell’s office in the FoL building the day he was given the news. I can still remember the look on his face, part hurt, mostly anger, when he told me – he clearly felt a promise had been broken.

Looking back I think that Douglas’ decision proved to be a major setback to union influence for the Federation of Labour. Campbell and Alf Kirk, who was working for the FoL, had produced a blueprint for a negotiated approach to wage bargaining in their book “After the Freeze”. In Australia, The ACTU had established an Accord with the Hawke Labor government in 1983, trading moderated wage adjustments for benefits in wider economic and social policy. Arguably it was one of the major reasons why the 1980’s adjustment in Australia was so much more successful than that in New Zealand. There had been some efforts to come to a similar arrangement with New Zealand Labour before the 1984 election, and Grant states that it lapsed because it was opposed by Stan Rodger. Hugh Oliver’s research, reported in Brian Easton’s “Rise of Rogernomics”, showed that this was because Labour M.P.s did not think that the FoL leadership could deliver on an accord. Had Campbell been promoted to work alongside Douglas, his ideas and energy along with others such as Rex Jones of the Engineers, Rick Barker of the Hotel Workers and Peter Harris in the PSA would have produced a powerful leadership cluster that could have laid that criticism to rest.

Douglas’ justification for this decision is that he was opposed to personality leadership along the lines of Muldoonism and Rogernomics; presumably that he saved the Fol and later CTU from “Campbellism”. Whatever the truth of this, the FoL at the time certainly became stalled in its search for influence, and the fight against labour market deregulation was led by the Labour-affiliated unions. The lack of respect for the FoL lasted well into the Fourth Labour government. Grant quotes Denis Welch’s account of Knox’s address to the 1986 Labour Party conference (mistakenly describing it as the FoL’s conference). “Some delegates even heckle him – this man who once commanded the rapt attention of Labour audiences on the strength of his mispronunciations alone. The hecklers include certain MPs and at least two of them decline to stand in the obligatory standing ovation.” Knox did not deserve to go out like this either. Grant concludes his account of this episode, which clearly remains sensitive for his subject, by recording Campbell’s later career as a businessman, the implication being that he was not proper unionist. I think that is unfair; along with Peter Harris of the PSA, Campbell led the early fight against Rogernomics in the Labour Party economic debates. And after all, one of the paradoxes Grant set out to explore was Douglas’ progression from barricade to bargaining table to boardroom – it could be argued that Douglas just took longer.

Another crucial choice involving a Campbell is not recorded in the book. In the late 1980’s George Campbell, then Secretary of the Australian Metals Union, and later Labor Senator, came to New Zealand with the specific intention of trying to persuade Douglas to join the New Zealand Labour Party. The Australians had a strategic trans-Tasman view, and were looking for trans-Tasman labour movement convergence. They also understood the corrosive effect of sectarian left politics; their factional battles were fought inside the Labor Party. He made the pitch at a private dinner in what is now the Duxton Hotel; in the end nothing came of it. Douglas stayed with the SUP. That decision too had some significant consequences. Douglas’ preference for sectarian left politics meant that he did not have the sort of wider political connection at the time that might have made his ambition possible.

For example  I don’t think Douglas understood what Lange’s offer of the so-called “compact’, made shortly after the Labour Party conference in 1988, was really about. Ken Douglas thought the unions had finally been given their place at the tripartite table; whereas Lange, who had just given Roger Douglas his dismissal notice, was looking for union support for his stand. Had effort been put into support inside the Labour Party for Lange’s fundamental change of tack rather than into convincing sceptical unions to sign on to the compact its subsequent history might have been very different. After Lange’s later resignation compact negotiations drifted along without any real commitment from government, and with employers sitting on their hands. It’s sole outcome a year or so later of a two percent wage movement in return for moderation of interest rates, suggested by Mike Moore just before Labour’s landslide defeat, was a triumph of hope over expectation and in the end no victory for workers. To his credit, Douglas later admitted he had been too slow to move; and certainly his later support for Helen Clark within the Labour party was highly valued.

The second issue of Douglas’ leadership style is more fundamental. Union leaders are ultimately only as influential as their connection with an organised membership. Douglas gained his spurs and made his reputation in the Drivers’ Union, where mentor Chip Bailey had set up the delegate structures where issues were debated directly with the membership. Over time Douglas’ leadership grew more distant from union members, and was exercised through committee and conference as well as his influence over individual union leaders. In the time I knew him from the mid 1980’s I always thought of him as a top table man; confident in his own opinion, able to manage upwards with considerable skill.

This disjunction from union members became crucial when the National government launched its attack on unions in 1990 with the Employment Contracts Act. As Grant outlines, Douglas was desperate to maintain a relationship with the Jim Bolger and the National government, on the basis of the fragile compact arrangement. But such relationships need member understanding and commitment to be effective. This is where the criticism of Douglas’ response to the Employment Contracts Act is pertinent. Unions such as the Engineers had worked on their strategies to cope with the anticipated attack on unions’ bargaining and organising rights, but for many less well-prepared unions the attack was devastating. A call to arms was important for member morale; but when emotion was needed, Douglas the emotional leader did not take the opportunity.

The internal debate in the union movement about leadership style ran right through the 1990’s. Summarised, it could be described as bottom-up organising versus top-table lobbying. At one extreme, it led to a split with the emergence of the WCL-influenced alternative trade union centre, the Trade Union Federation, which was also sectarian but more inclined to class conflict than collaboration. On the other side, the lobbying approach manifested itself in the CTU’s appeal against the Employment Contracts Act to the world’s last bastion of tripartism, the ILO.

In the end, the unions who favoured an organising approach did their own thing, and took their own initiative without reference to the CTU. They formed a loose alliance across both union centres and ran a fightback campaign against the National Government’s attempt to strengthen the Employment Contracts Act after 1996. The campaign focussed on the National government’s proposition to allow the contracting out of holiday entitlements by cashing them up. The campaign was symbolised by a widely-distributed 1997 Christmas card saying “Max (Bradford) wants to take your holiday.” Nationwide demonstrations supported by skilled lobbying resulted in New Zealand First playing a key parliamentary role along with Labour and the Greens in preventing any further anti-worker legislative change. There is nothing of this story in Grant’s book, which is why in my view it takes an airbrush to the history of the period.

Around this time unions also called for a review of the CTU. They wanted an organising centre, and Douglas was not the man to lead that. He had become increasingly isolated from ordinary members, seeking solace in the sporting clubs where as Grant says he felt safe. He had also turned his attention through the nineties to the wider union world, where he did play a prominent and widely appreciated role. Before he was farewelled from the CTU, Douglas had succeeded in becoming elected to the Porirua City Council. The last part of the book describes his subsequent career as a widely-respected member of a number of boards and Councils. Without exception, the tributes are generous and warm as well as thoroughly well-deserved. It is as though he has finally found his true metier where the insights drawn from his enquiring mind, breadth of vision and vast experience of the world  are not hindered by the politics of organisational delivery.

So back to the title – Man for all seasons? The only clue as to why Grant chose the title comes when he refers to Douglas’ chameleon tendencies which means he wasn’t referring to constancy. As for conviviality, Douglas was definitely a clubman for all seasons. Whether it was rugby, cricket, softball or golf; in summer or winter or in between, his contribution was and still is enormous. However I think the best description for him is one he gave to himself. After he had finally joined the Labour Party but missed selection for the Porirua council he stood as Independent Labour. He was always really Labour, and definitely  always independent; while he always gave it a go, it wasn’t always easy to put the two together.

I think Grant’s  description of Ken Douglas as the bridge between “cloth-cap unionism and the university-educated leaders of the present” takes too big a leap. It elides too much and also does not do justice to the many other people through the period who also came from the shop floor, also came up with ideas, organised and inspired, and in the end won the battles on the ground that ultimately led to the repeal of the Employment Contracts Act by the fifth Labour government and that laid the groundwork for a modern union movement. Grant’s book is a  fascinating if challenging read, but in my view it should not be regarded as definitive for the history of the achievements of the union movement throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Many other heroes of the period remain unsung, and the full story still untold.

12 comments on “Man for all seasons – book review”

  1. Tiger Mountain 1

    Thoughtful piece/review Mike. KGD is the classic embodiment of the rough working class axiom “did he go bad, or was he always”. This guy went from self proclaimed marxist to helping derail mass resistance to the Emploment Contracts Bill, seeming incredibly, to believe tri-partism could work with a union hostile government. It is likely Douglas did join the Labour Party in the above time frame, but as a ‘secret’ or non public member. He had two pressing tasks before being more publicly associated with the NZLP:
    a) to leave the SUP (NZ Socialist Unity Party) in a non viable state, and definitely not able to be handed over to GH Andersen. (This was accomplished relatively simply by his supporting the ANZAC frigate programme at the ’88 SUP national conference which soon enough caused the desired party split).
    b) effect the switchover from the SUP to the LP as ‘house’ political party of the official union movement.

    I have never forgotten at Jim Knox’s memorial service at the Auckland Trade Union Centre, aging ’51 lockout leader Jock Barnes lambasting Douglas in a most forthright verging on abusive manner on his (KGD’s) personal and the NZCTU’s failings. But Jock just said what the several hundred present, in their hearts knew to be true.

  2. SHG 2

    That’s not a book review.

  3. The Voice of Reason 3

    Excellent review, Mike. I’ve known Ken Douglas since about 1980 and have bumped into him at the occasional work or social do since then. It’s always been good catching up with him and he’s still a great raconteur and wit. Your review helps put a few things in perspective for me and certainly makes me want to add the book to the Xmas reading list. Few of us live a long life without making mistakes and I for one would never characterise Ken as crook in any way, and certainly not on the take as it turns out the senior leadership of the CPNZ were, but he clearly took a direction in the last twenty years that surprised and disappointed a lot of people.

    His emotional or gut instinct decision making was the major contrast for me between him and Bill Andersen. GH was far more analytical, measured and strategic in his planning, but that also left him occasionally inflexible.* Douglas was possibly more in tune with where the NZ economy and therefore its workforce were going in the nineties, but that doesn’t make his slide into social democracy and eventually the board room any more palatable.

    * ‘occasionally inflexible’. A wee joke there for ya, TM ; )

    • Tiger Mountain 3.1

      “in the situation” TVoR, heh.

    • David 3.2

      “not on the take as it turns out the senior leadership of the CPNZ were”

      Interesting comment. Care to elaborate?

      • The Voice of Reason 3.2.1

        Happy to, David.

        It came out a few years ago that the SIS had put one of the CPNZ leaders on the payroll for a decade or more after he got into financial strife and was easily compromised. At the time of his exposure as a grass, I believe he was Party president, but it might have been secretary. He admitted taking cash for passing on info and it was widely reported in the press at the time.

        The name escapes me, but no doubt Trevor Louden’s New Zeal website* will have the details or you could look it up on Google. Looking at my comment again, I should have said ‘one of the leadership’ not tarred them all with the same brush, so sorry to any sensitive Stalinists upset by my linguistic innacuracy.

        *Trev says some very unflattering things about me, too, which is very encouraging!

        • Tiger Mountain 3.2.1.1

          TVoR-Sid Scott, Vic Wilcox? There is one documented case of CP turncoating-jazz muso George Fraser who was employed in the 50s intially by “Special Branch” of the police and then handed over to the fledgling SIS. Fraser worked at NZBC and narked for about 10 years. He confirmed the old tale about a wire to the Auckland ‘Bacon’ station from the St Kevins arcade CP office. His 1995 book “Seeing Red”, The Dunmore Press, ISBN 0 86469 255 2, tells the tale. Funny thing after fleeing to the US the SIS dropped him and he returned to NZ and went public long after many cared and participated in the campaign against the SIS Ammendment Bill 1977. Still awake?

          To the whingers: it is not compulsory to read anything on this fine blog that others pay for and maintain.

          • The Voice of Reason 3.2.1.1.1

            More recent, TM. I think it came out when the SIS started opening their files a couple of years ago and somebody got their own file and put two and two together. I wish I could remember the name, but it wasn’t anybody I knew, so it obviously didn’t stick in the memory. But it’s unfair on the others who were dinkum, so I’ll have a hunt tonight and see what I can find out.

  4. Swampy 4

    There are better things to read on this blog than someone using a “book review” as an exercise in revisionist history that no one is interedsted in. You could no t get this “review” published in any newspaper

    • felix 4.1

      “You could no t get this “review” published in any newspaper”

      So what? it’s already published on a very popular website.

      • lprent 4.1.1

        Yeah, our ‘circulation’ is probably outperforming quite a lot of the minor newspapers now. It is certainly intensively read looking at the server traffic.

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.2

        it’s already published on a very popular website.

        Accessible for free, exposes the slackness of the MSM and which doesn’t send profits to Murdoch and his ilk. Must burn huh, Swampy.

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    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    6 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    6 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
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    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    7 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
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    7 days ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
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    1 week ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
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  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • What about renters?
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
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    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
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    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
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    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
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    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
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    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • GFC vs Covid-19
    It is said that generals fight the last war. In the case of the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) they had learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s and they fought intelligently and successfully. Later their advice would be ignored in favour of the Austerians who ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • Nobody Left Behind.
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    2 weeks ago
  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
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    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion law reform a win for women
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist
    Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
    Michael Baker, University of Otago and Nick Wilson, University of Otago With some of the toughest border restrictions and a newly-announced NZ$500 million boost to health services, New Zealand is among a small number of countries with a strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand is also fortunate in ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks 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
    4 hours ago
  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours 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
    21 hours 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
    21 hours 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
    23 hours ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
    The Government is announcing significant further support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet today agreed to remove the cap on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, which will inject a further $4 billion into the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
    The Government is backing the Reserve Bank’s latest action to support the economy by reducing longer-term interest rates, meaning lower costs for businesses and mortgage holders, and a lower currency to help our exporters. The Minister of Finance has signed a memorandum of understanding and a letter of indemnity with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
    The Government has asked the Commerce Commission to take account of the exceptional circumstances created by COVID-19 when monitoring business behaviour in coming weeks.   “The purpose of my request to the Commerce Commission is to make sure businesses can work together in ways that will allow them to provide ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
    The New Zealand Government has temporarily closed its High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados and its Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Due to the increasing scarcity of air links in and out of Bridgetown and Yangon, and the pressure COVID-19 is placing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Supporting Māori communities and businesses through
    Associate Health and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare has today announced the Government’s plan to support Māori communities and businesses in the face of COVID-19. “Our Government’s $12.1 billion economic package will help many Māori whānau, workers and businesses, whether it’s through wage subsidies, income support and worker redeployment, or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Guidelines for hospitality establishments released
    The Government and the hospitality industry have worked together to produce guidelines to assist with managing and reducing transmission of COVID-19, Health Minister David Clark announced today.  The guidelines developed between the Government, Hospitality New Zealand and SkyCity Entertainment Group, set out how the new restrictions on physical distancing and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Nation steps up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2
    Four stage Alert System for COVID-19 announced New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 – Reduce Contact New Zealanders over 70 and those with certain medical conditions told to stay at home as much as they can to reduce risk of contact with the virus Workplaces to implement ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • PM Address – Covid-19 Update
    Kia ora koutou katoa I’m speaking directly to all New Zealanders today to give you as much certainty and clarity as we can as we fight Covid-19. Over the past few weeks, the world has changed. And it has changed very quickly. In February it would have seemed unimaginable to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ and Singapore commit to keeping supply and trade links open, including on essential goods and med...
    New Zealand and Singapore have jointly committed to keep supply chains open and to remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the commitment. “This is an important collective response, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Joint Ministerial Statement by Singapore and New Zealand -Covid-19 situation
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago