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MMP Mark II*

Written By: - Date published: 11:57 pm, December 25th, 2019 - 24 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, elections, electoral commission, electoral systems, Maori seats, MMP, Parliament, political alternatives, political parties, Politics, uncategorized - Tags: , , , , , ,

While the digestive system is working overtime, I can write another short light post inspired by recent comments on The Standard.

I am no fan of MMP. Sure, it is heaps better than some of the other systems such as in the US and UK. But it still has a few downsides that could be addressed relatively easily in my non-expert view and some still find it too hard, it seems.

As far as I know, our MMP system has been modelled on the German system with the aim to have a more representative one that reduced the influence of a majority party and the two-party dominance by National and Labour.

Indeed, ever since the first MMP election in 1996, no single party has achieved a parliamentary majority. Arguably, though, it still is largely a two-horse race between National and Labour.

Would we or should we expect this to change and be any different by now? Germany is a federal state but even so, it is interesting to see how diverse their national parliament (der Bundestag) is in terms of political parties. I would argue that the German situation is many way ways remarkably similar to New Zealand’s one.

Germany also seems to have a rather high threshold of 5% of the national party vote, which resulted in only seven parties represented currently (currently five in NZ Parliament).

For comparison, Denmark has a threshold of 2% and has currently 10 parties represented in their parliament (Folketinget), and this picture has not changed much over time.

By TapyrrII – Made using paint.net, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75319436

 

The Danish voting system is different from ours in that it is open-list proportional representation.

Open list describes any variant of party-list proportional representation where voters have at least some influence on the order in which a party’s candidates are elected. This is as opposed to closed list, which allows only active members, party officials, or consultants to determine the order of its candidates and gives the general voter no influence at all on the position of the candidates placed on the party list. Additionally, an open list system allows voters to select individuals rather than parties. Different systems give voter different amounts of influence. Voter’s choice is usually called preference vote.

There are a few other quirks of the Danish system I was not aware of. For example,

Gaining representation in parliament requires only 2% of the vote. With such a low election threshold, a large number of parties are represented in the chamber, making it all but impossible for one party to win the 90 seats necessary for a majority. No party has achieved this since 1901.[my emphasis]

The following is also interesting, and although I cannot see it happen any time soon in NZ, it doesn’t seem to have harmed Denmark:

All Danish governments since then [1901] have been coalitions or one-party minority governments. For this reason, a long-standing provision in the constitution allows a government to take office without getting a vote of confidence and stay in office as long as it does not lose a vote of no confidence. One consequence is that, unlike in most other parliamentary systems, a Danish government can never be sure its legislative agenda will pass, and it must assemble a majority for each individual piece of legislation.

Here’s another quirk:

The constitution does not mention political parties at all, although the electoral act does, and MPs are almost always elected for a party. The only independent who has been elected in modern times is the comedian Jacob Haugaard, but independents, usually unknown ones, are seen at every election. Requirements for standing as an independent candidate are much more lenient than for a new party (signatures from 150 eligible voters), but independents are only allowed to contest in a single district, making it very difficult to gain the needed number of votes for a seat. [my emphasis]

Lastly, let’s have a look at the system in the Netherlands, which also has semi-open-list proportional representation:

In the Netherlands, the voter can give his vote to any candidate in a list (for example, in elections for the House of the Representatives); the vote for this candidate is called a “preference vote” (voorkeurstem in Dutch). If a candidate has at least 25% of the quota then he/she takes priority over the party’s other candidates who stand higher on the party list but received fewer preference votes. Most people vote for the top candidate, to indicate no special preference for any individual candidate, but support for the party in general. Sometimes, however, people want to express their support for a particular person. Many women, for example, vote for the first woman on the list. If a candidate gathers enough preference votes, then they get a seat in parliament, even if their position on the list would leave them without a seat. In the 2003 elections Hilbrand Nawijn, the former minister of migration and integration was elected into parliament for the Pim Fortuyn List by preference votes even though he was the last candidate on the list.

The mention of women voting preferentially voting for women puts list parity in NZ in perspective, I think.

The Netherlands has a low threshold of 0.67% effectively.

This threshold is one of the lowest for national parliaments in the world, and there are usually multiple parties winning seats with 2% or less of the vote. Any party that did not have seats in the House at the time of the election will have its deposit refunded if it receives more than 75% of the threshold (1/200th of the vote).

Currently, there are 13 parties represented in the Dutch House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal or short de Tweede Kamer).

As in Denmark, the picture has remained quite unchanged historically.

Until 1956, there were 100 seats. This was expanded to 150 seats, which is the current number.

To give an overview of the history of the House of Representatives, the figure [below] shows the seat distribution in the House from the first general elections after World War II (1946) to the current situation. The left-wing parties are towards the bottom, the Christian parties in the centre, with the right-wing parties towards the top. Occasionally, single-issue (or narrow-focus) parties have arisen, and these are shown at the extreme top. Vertical lines indicate general elections. Although these are generally held every four years, the resulting coalition governments do not always finish their term without a government crisis, which is often followed by fresh elections. Hence the frequent periods shorter than four years.

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3899214

 

How does New Zealand stack up?

We have a closed-party list system. In other words, it is completely up to the parties and their internal hierarchies to select their candidates according to their own party rules – there is no consistency between parties. Although the Electoral Commission recommended keeping the closed-party lists, I would favour a more open system giving voters more influence on the selection of candidates, be it directly (through preferential votes, for example) or indirectly (by influencing the party selection process, for example).

I think the NZ threshold of 5% is way too high and counter-intuitive to fair representation. Another problem with our MMP system is overhang seats, which the Commission has recommended abolishing. Other ‘perversions’ of MMP as it stands here in NZ are the so-called coat-tail rule and strategic voting, which can skew proportional representation and which are cynically gamed by political parties.

The number of electorate seats has been increasing steadily over the years thanks to the population growth centred in the North-Island. These seats include the seven Māori seats that all went to Labour in 2017.

I’d like to think that abolishing the Māori seats in a fairer proportional system like the one in the Netherlands should allow and enable Māori being better represented in Parliament. Only about half of all Māori are on the Māori roll and the proportional number is decreasing.

If I read the numbers correctly, there are almost half a million voters who register as Māori yet they are represented by only seven Māori seats without one dedicated (and committed) party. Under the current MMP system I cannot see how this could or would improve.

Another advantage of abolishing the electorate seats would be the requirement of having to review the boundaries every five years based on the Census. This can easily become another political football for parties to quibble about and used for political grandstanding.

It seems I am not alone here on The Standard in thinking that political parties present more of a hindrance than help 🙂 However, it is hard to see how 120 individual MPs could run an effective Parliament and Government without the support of a party and its apparatchiks. It would require a major overhaul of Parliamentary Services. It is also hard to see how candidates would mount an effective election campaign without party support unless they are so-called self-made millionaires and/or rely heavily on donations. Arguably, these are the least qualified candidates to represent us. Still, I think it would be good to debate and address the dominant influence of party politics on and over national (and local) politics.

*MMP 2.0 just didn’t feel right for some reason.

24 comments on “MMP Mark II*”

  1. Andre 1

    Why do we even have electorates?

    Seems to me it's mostly a historical artefact from the days that it took weeks or months to travel from one part of the country to another. So a geographical area electing a local representative to be their voice in governing national affairs was an efficient way to do things.

    While rapid modern travel and instant communications have reduced the need for local communities to have their person on the ground in order to have their issues considered, it still hasn't eliminated it completely. So it seems to me having MPs represent a local geographical area is still a worthwhile thing to have.

    But our current iteration of MMP gives rise to various anomalies and distortions. See Epsom, Dunne, Anderton, Maori Party overhang seats etc. While it seems to me keeping electorate seats as part of the mix is worthwhile, it's also worthwhile to eliminate ways for voters to use their electorate vote to game themselves extra representational power. Keeping overhang seats, but making the holders of overhang seats ineligible to vote on confidence and supply would do that.

    • McFlock 1.1

      Heh – "why do we have them" vs "why should we keep them".

      I suspect electorates are a holdover from feudalism – originally the local landowners/dominators, anda general expansion of the vote but still sticking with the area principle.

      BUT

      Different regions have different needs and priorities, yet a third of the vote is concentrated in one city. So are we a nation, or are we a city that occupies the regions like an overloerd?

    • Macro 1.2

      What McFlock says. But to add also that there is a need for some local representation at government level. One of the main tasks for an electoral MP is the representation of the needs of locals on all manner of issues to government. For instance on a personal level I had an issue with the Education Depart over my correct level of salary. My local MP communicated directly with the Minister of Education, and the issue was quickly resolved. Whereas the school and I had been battling for months to get the matter sorted.

    • DS 1.3

      To put it bluntly, without electorates, we'd have 120 MPs from Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Regional New Zealand – especially, say, the West Coast – would struggle to get representation.

  2. Andre 2

    It's also worth reminding ourselves what recommended changes came out of the Electoral Commission review in 2012. That Judith Collins promptly shat on and flushed down the toilet. Those recommendations were:

    • Reducing the party vote threshold from 5 percent to 4 percent. If the 4 percent threshold is introduced, it should be reviewed after three general elections.
    • Abolishing the one electorate seat threshold – a party must cross the party vote threshold to gain list seats.
    • Abolishing the provision of overhang seats for parties not reaching the threshold – the extra electorates would be made up at the expense of list seats to retain 120 MPs
    • Retaining the status quo for by-election candidacy and dual candidacy.
    • Retaining the status quo with closed party lists, but increasing scrutiny in selection of list candidates to ensure parties comply with their own party rules.
    • Parliament should give consideration to fixing the ratio between electorate seats and list seats at 60:40 (72:48 in a 120-seat parliament)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_system_of_New_Zealand#2011_referendum_and_Electoral_Commission_2012_report

  3. Bg 3

    Some good ideas and my greatest gripe about MMP is the make up of the party lists. Personally I feel they are MPs that should be nowhere near parliament but through their influence on the workings of the party get a high list spot, and once in, it's almost impossible to get rid of them. Therefore the people (the voting public) can't vote them out. 

    One possible solution I thought of was that everyone has to be standing on the  electorate ticket, no list MPs only. And your list standing is determined by the result of the percentage of support you received, if you didn't win your seat of course. 

    There's obvious flaws in this, where people can still be dropped into favourable electorates, I understand that but the people still have some influence over the make up of the list, rather than a more commonly a board. Also it makes every MP accountable to a region, so every 3 years (I'd possibly change that as well) they have to look their voters in the eye and ask them for their vote. Instead of pleading thier case to a group of a dozen or less members (or in one case, one person who holds complete sway over the party)

  4. mikesh 4

    The high threshold also seems to bring the 'wasted vote' factor into play. Some voters would like to vote an unpopular party but are reluctant to do so because they fear that their vote will prove 'wasted' if that party fails to reach the threshold. In particular, this makes it difficult for new parties to get started.

  5. Dennis Frank 5

    All your reasoning seems valid to me.  The Green view would use biodiversity as the basic principle, so parliament ought to reflect the broader community via a diversity of political brands.  I'd support either 2 or 3% threshold as a pragmatic compromise, although your citation of the Netherlands (0.67%) producing 13 parties elected impressed me!

    That vivid bar graph from Wikipedia depicting the consequent political ecosystem had an instant impact:  "Hey, that looks just like a Hundertwasser painting!"  Life imitating art again.  I've got a wonderful small book from his initial exhibition in the Auckland Art Gallery (1970, I think) with several miniature versions amongst the several dozen included that are very similar to that diagram (they used iridescent colours, too – very rare even nowadays).

    As for the party principle of representation, I agree the practice has largely discredited it.  Even in the Greens.  That's why I'd prefer to include a participatory design.  When I advocated regenerating our legislative chamber to enable consensus politics to be included along with competitive politics several years ago, the integral frame proved too hard for most commentators to comprehend.  As usual.  But that would be a way into the system for keen politicos, allowing them to bypass party conformity.

  6. bwaghorn 6

    Lowering the threshold would mean the likes of colin craig  would have made it into government.  I'm good with 5% . 

    Mmp is working fine .  

     

    • Andre 6.1

      Seems to me the kooks would be a lot easier to manage and quarantine when they're out in the open compared to when they're operating in stealth infiltration mode like Paulo Garcia or Christopher Luxon.

    • Incognito 6.2

      In 2008, the ACT Party won only 3.6% of the Party vote. But ACT got a total of five seats in the House of Representatives because an ACT candidate won the Epsom electorate; this has been called the “coat-tailing” rule.[21] However, the New Zealand First party which got 4.07% of the list vote or below the 5% threshold was not returned to parliament in 2008.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_system_of_New_Zealand#MMP_in_New_Zealand

      If a party has a large enough constituency, it should represent that in Parliament, IMO. You might not/never vote for them but others do. If somebody acts like a moron, in your eyes, they might still be an effective politician.

      MMP can do better, or better even, we can do better than MMP.

    • pat 6.3

      expect we have to accept that the technocrats will always seek to moderate electorate demands regardless of system…..and why 'populism' (of any leaning) is feared…we need to be protected from ourselves….and its difficult to argue against given human history. Sadly they are slow to move and frequently too late.

    • I'm good with 5%.

      Of course you are – it disenfranchises a sector of the population you don't like.  But your personal preferences shouldn't be the basis of our electoral system, so the question is how does disenfranchising minority voters make for a good electoral system?  Good luck arguing that one.  

  7. Puckish Rogue 7

    Good post angel

  8. DS 8

    It would never fly, but we honestly need to start looking at increasing the number of South Island electorates (currently at 16) to 20 or so. That would decrease the size of the North Island electorates, so you'd have to increase the number of List MPs to preserve proportionality… increasing the size of Parliament ain't going to be popular.

    However, some of these regional South Island electorates are getting too damn big at the geographical level. The proposed boundary changes in the Otago-Southland region are a direct consequence. 

    • Mad Plumber 8.1

      The South Island electorates do need looking at as the rivers cause a natural boundary and generally there are only two crossing points which makes the time spent travelling for MP's extremely long. One benefit from all this travelling they do see the idiots on the road.

      [Changed the user name to the one you have used here previously if that is ok with you]

  9. Stuart Munro 9

    Parties are a bit of a curate's egg – good in parts, though which parts can be pretty hard to figure out. Independents are valuable if they break the deadlocks created by tacit agreement between parties, or campaign on issues parties prefer not to address. We don't seem to get true independents since MMP, and since I wouldn't characterize our governance as stellar, I'm minded to call that a failing.

    The first obvious change is to lower the 5% bar to remove the anomalies it creates.

    Term limits might serve to remove some of the most egregiously petrified deadwood that no-one would hire on a bet, like Smith & Brownlee.

    Almost as critical however is the lame-ass media, click-baiting morons who rarely or never analyze policy or produce comparisons with places that have tried such things before. Parties get up to mischief without that critical analysis, and broadly speaking current political journalists just don't produce it. Maybe we need to elect political commentators too.

  10. Richard 10

    I had an idea on this also.

    The proportional voting system would work as follows:

    Points 1 to 3 (required for system to function):

    1.  The number of seats in parliament would be a potential maximum.  The only way to fill them all would be if everyone on the roll voted for a party.  The empty seats in parliament would be representative of the 'none of the above' vote.

    2.  The threshold would be the 'natural threshold' of one seat worth of the total roll.  The number of votes required for one seat being equal to the total roll divided by the maximum seats in parliament.  A party would need to meet or exceed this number (no rounding up).

    3.  A parliamentary majority is always half the occupied seats in the house plus one (not half the max plus one).

    Points 4 and 5 (not necessary for system to function but I like them):

    4.  Compulsory voting:  All voting age persons would need to be enrolled and vote.  There should be a 'none of the above' box to tick along with the party boxes.  Voters could also just spoil the ballot if they wish, but they must turn up even if just to say 'get fucked'.

    5.  Oh and another of Bomber's favourites: election day should be a public holiday.

    If we use the following numbers for an example:

    Max seats – 200
    Total roll – 4,000,000

    The one seat threshold that must be exceeded for a party to enter parliament is (4,000,000 / 200 = 20,000 votes).  A total of 19,999 would not be enough.

    If somewhere near but exceeding 3,000,000 of the roll cast a valid vote for a party, the above numbers would yield something like 150 seats in parliament, with 50 remaining empty.  A parliamentary majority would then be 76.  This would not work out exactly, as there would be wasted vote that didn't push the party past another seat (there would actually be a little less than 150 occupied, the difference representing the wasted valid vote as opposed to the 'up yours' vote).

    This system of course also dispenses with the electorate seats and I concede that it does not deal with how to ensure effective local representation (see Macro's comment at 1.2).

  11. soddenleaf 11

    Just to point out, if you want to put the work in, just have a party primary where the members (or wider) choose the order. I'm really fed up with the Ozzie system, the overly detailed lists and forced voting, leads inevitably to a under accountable system. Keep it simple. Electorates work as you fel there in a mp who understands the local issues, or should. Trump won because people were fedup, Brexit happened similarly, people unable to provoke necessary change. Democrats will lose if like Clinton they ignore Bernie having tapped into something.

  12. Descendant Of Smith 12

    I'd rather see some real change that represents the partnership in the Treaty.
    60 Maori seats and 60 non-Maori seats.

    The Maori seats distributed on broad iwi lines (though Maori themselves should determine how the seats should be allocated).

    I'd love to see this approach tested out at a council level even. What different approaches and attitudes might we see – ones that would place higher values on the environment and collectivism and benefits for Maori.

     The first colonised country in the world to give equal political rights to its indigineous population. 

     

  13. AB 13

    I would be inclined to get  large donors, anonymous donors and rich self-funders out of the system first before changing  much else. Have supplementary public funding kick in once an organisation/party hits a threshold of members who are contributing an annual amount capped at a level affordable by someone on the median wage. No non-individual donors allowed, i.e.  no businesses, churches, unions, etc. This might help turn parties into genuinely democratic vehicles rather than fronts for special interests.

    We could end coat-tailing immediately as it just encourages corruption – but beyond that I'd like to see the financing side fixed first. 

  14. Wally2 14

    MMP in NZ could work with one minor modification, giving voters a second negative vote to be used against specific individuals high up on party lists.

    for instance voters may not like a previous welfare minister, or the current road safety minister who are both high up on the closed party lists. Assuming for a moment that the negative vote threshold was 10%. Then if the previous welfare minister was number 4 on the party list, but received 10% or more of the negative vote, that previous minister would not re-enter parliament, even if the party gained 60% of the vote. Whereas the road safety minister seeking re-election who got 9.5% would retain her place on the party list.

    in effective the wider voter base gets to have a say in which individuals are  deemed too nasty for re-election, while still being able to maintain their preferred party, and individual vote.

    The negative vote could also influence electorate candidates, irrespective of list position, by reducing the electro rate vote garnered by them by 10% Thus no such thing as a safe seat could ensure a much hated parliamentarian confidently regaining parliament. They would have to work hard to not only con their “safe seat” electorate,  it would also have to avoid generating the hatred of the entire nation.

    The only additional twists required are that the negative vote should be cast 5 months before the election in a closed ballot, only opened after the regular poll closes. Also, slagging individual opponents by politicians, Party officials and media within a month of the negative vote would need to be subject to penalty. The negative vote needs to be subject entirely to the whim of the voting public.

    On these measures I can think of at least four parliamentarians who would need to radically change their spots to regain parliament. I can confidently say that both major parties would be decimated.

    the slight cost of having two consecutive vote processes is easily accommodated as the first would easily be accommodated as part of the present signing electors up. Those that sign up on the final polling day/week would miss out on the negative vote. Thus we may ultimately end up with a much higher final voter turnout after a few cycles than the present 70 odd percent and falling turnout.

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    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
    4 days ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days 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
    5 days ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days 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
    5 days ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days 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 ...
    5 days 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
    6 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    6 days ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    6 days ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    6 days ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    6 days 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 ...
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    7 days 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
    7 days ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    7 days 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
    7 days 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
    7 days 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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 ...
    1 week 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
    1 week ago
  • Nobody Left Behind.
    Solidarity Forever: All over the world, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has exposed the fragility of the walls we erect around ourselves and our loved ones. It has shattered our illusions of autonomy and revealed to us how utterly dependent we all are on other human-beings. Finally, we see ...
    1 week ago
  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
    Looking across the various arguments for/against the leading candidates to take the Democratic Nomination, you might honestly be very hard pressed to tell. There are a number of things that have now started happening since Amy Klobuchar and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg both threw the towel in and immediately (and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    1 week ago
  • Abortion law reform a win for women
    by Daphna Whitmore Abortion is no longer in the Crimes Act in New Zealand. The law reform passed yesterday and now abortion is a medical matter between a woman and her doctor. Many women’s groups and progressive people have campaigned for reform for decades. The women’s liberation movement and some ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
    As expected, the government has introduced a sessional order to allow Parliament to operate during the pandemic. You can read it on the Order Paper here, but the short version is that questions and motions can be filed electronicly, select committees can work remotely, and the the Business Committee can ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media
    Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology; Daniel Angus, Queensland University of Technology; Timothy Graham, Queensland University of Technology, and Tobias R. Keller, Queensland University of Technology News and views about coronavirus has spread via social media in a way that no health emergency has done before. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • How to survive 14 days of self-isolation
    So you’ve recently returned from overseas, come into contact with someone who tested positive, got a bit of a dry cough yourself or perhaps just want to self isolate for 14 days to avoid other people who might have COVID-19. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get ...
    1 week ago
  • Abortion Legislation Bill passes third reading
    Some fave speeches:     ...
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
    1 week ago
  • Why Leadership Matters – More Than Anything.
    Our Good Fortune: Precisely because she has never been an ideologue (she calls herself a “pragmatic idealist”) Jacinda Ardern has a political nimbleness and spontaneity which, when infused with her exceptional emotional intelligence, produces spectacular demonstrations of leadership. Jacinda's empathic political personality contrasts sharply with the less-than-sunny ways of her ...
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #11, 2020
    1 week ago
  • 68-51
    The Abortion Legislation Bill has just passed its third reading, 68-51. NZ First MPs bailed because their referendum amendment didn't pass, but there were plenty of MPs to provide a majority without them. The bill is a long way from perfect - most significantly, it subjects pregnant people who need ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The ‘herd immunity’ route to fighting coronavirus is unethical and potentially dangerous
    As most of the world tries to suppress the coronavirus spread, some countries are going it alone – trying to manage the pandemic through so-called “herd immunity”. Herd immunity means letting a large number of people catch a disease, and hence develop immunity to it, to stop the virus spreading. ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Eight new COVID-19 cases today. It’s no surprise when you look at some numbers
    So, as I sit at home with a very, very slight headache (i.e. not at work when I would otherwise be so), the now familiar figure of Ashley Bloomfield reports eight new confirmed cases of COVID-19  including two in Waikato. A surprise, given that we had just twelve yesterday? No. ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • The WINZ Paradox versus the new COVID-19 Reality: Get real people, seriously…
    Many who advocated for, and voted for, the current Coalition – particularly those who voted Labour and the Green Party – expected to see a sea change in the reality of social services. A real, deep change of attitude, approach of process through which the system negotiates the difficult and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • The Air New Zealand bailout
    Stuff reports that the government is going to have to throw $2 - 3 billion at Air new Zealand to get it through the pandemic. Good. While international routes are basicly closed, Air New Zealand is a strategic asset which is vital to our tourism industry, not to mentioning airfreight. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Why NZ’s tough coronavirus travel rules are crucial to protecting lives at home and across the Pac...
    New Zealand’s border restrictions will come with significant job and business losses in the tourism sector, both at home and in the Pacific. But the new travel rules are absolutely necessary to protect the health of New Zealanders and people right across Pacific Islands, because New Zealand is a gateway ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • The tiniest of teeth
    Back in early 2018, as a shoddy legal tactic to try and avoid the prisoner voting ban being formally declared inconsistent with the BORA by the Supreme Court, Justice Minister Andrew Little floated the idea of greater legal protection for human rights. When the Supreme Court case didn't go the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • One simple, common factor to success against COVID-19
    Professor Philip Hill and Associate Professor James Ussher Most infectious diseases have an Achilles heel, the secret is to find it. The question is if we don’t have a drug or a vaccine for COVID-19, is there something else we can do to beat it? Some people estimate that, without ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • National should isolate Simon Bridges
    The Coalition Governments $12.1 billion economic package to help combat the financial effects of COVID-19 was generally well received across the board, even amongst many business leaders who would normally be critical of a Labour led Government.However there was one glaringly obvious exception, Simon Bridges. The so-called leader of the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • How testing for Covid-19 works
    With confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand up to 12, many influential people are writing open letters and opinion pieces and doing press conferences asking why we aren’t pulling out all the stops and testing thousands of people a day like they are in South Korea. The thing is, ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    2 weeks ago
  • The COVID-19 package and the limits of capitalism
    by Daphna Whitmore The willingness to put human life before business shows that sometimes capitalism is capable of suspending its relentless drive for profit. For a short time it can behave differently. Flatten the curve is the public health message since COVID-19 suddenly overwhelmed the hospital system in northern Italy. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Black April, May and June?
    Worldwide, the 1918 influenza epidemic – wrongly called ‘Spanish’ flu – lasted about two years. However, it lasted about six weeks in New Zealand (remembered as ‘Black November’, because the dead turned a purplish-black). It is thought about 7000 Pakeha died and 2,500 Maori. The population mortality rate was about ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • COVID 19 has struck… as has a lot of terrible ineptitude from far too many
    In a world and a time when the worst off and most vulnerable have been asked, time and again, to foot the bill for the complete subjugating to the will of the 1% thanks to the GFC, at a point where the world as a whole is now seeing quite ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • What’s in the Coronavirus Package?
    With the economy already reeling from a crisis that’s barely begun, the Government today sought to provide reassurance to workers and businesses in the form of a massive phallic pun to insert much-needed cash into the private sector and help fight the looming pandemic. Here are the key components: $5.1 ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • I just had my benefit suspended during a fucking pandemic
    I am a member of the working poor and so still need state welfare to make rent. So I had booked an appointment for yesterday with my caseworker at Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) to apply for a transition to work grant. However the current health advice in New ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    2 weeks ago
  • A good first step
    Today the government announced a financial package to deal with the effects of the pandemic. So far, it looks good: an initial $500 million for health to deal with immediate priorities, wage subsidies for affected businesses, $585 a week from WINZ for people self-isolating who can't work from home, and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

  • Week That Was: COVID-19 Alert Level 4
    The COVID-19 situation in New Zealand is moving fast - and to avoid what we've seen overseas - the Government's response must be to move fast too. We're committed to keeping New Zealanders safe and well-informed every step of the way. ...
    19 hours ago
  • SPEECH: Green Party Co-leader James Shaw – Ministerial statement on State of National Emergency an...
    Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  The scale of what we face right now is unlike anything we have ever seen before. Overcoming it is our common purpose. ...
    4 days ago
  • Winston Peters urging New Zealanders overseas to stay put
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters is encouraging New Zealanders overseas to stay where they are amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "We are reaching a point where the best option for most New Zealanders offshore is to shelter in place, by preparing to safely stay where they are.” "This includes following the instructions ...
    5 days ago
  • New Zealanders overseas encouraged to shelter in place
    Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Foreign Minister Winston Peters is encouraging the tens of thousands of New Zealanders travelling overseas to consider sheltering in place, in light of COVID-19.  “Since 18 March, we have been warning New Zealanders offshore that the window for flying ...
    5 days ago
  • Ground-breaking abortion law passes, giving NZers compassionate healthcare
    Ground-breaking law has passed that will decriminalise abortion and ensure women and pregnant people seeking abortions have compassionate healthcare. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Package supports Kiwis to put collective health first
    The Green Party says that the measures announced by the Government today will help families and businesses to prioritise our collective health and wellbeing in the response to COVID-19. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Winston Peters: COVID-19 rescue package ‘more significant’ than any worldwide
    As New Zealanders brace for a global downturn due to Covid-19, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says his Coalition Government’s rescue package "more significant" than any other he's seen around the world. The Coalition is to reveal a multi-billion-dollar stimulus plan on Tuesday afternoon designed to cushion the economic blow ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Our response to COVID-19
    We know some people are feeling anxious about COVID-19. While the situation is serious, New Zealand has a world-class health system and we’re well-prepared to keep New Zealanders safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • ‘Demerit Points System’ will address youth crime
    Darroch Ball MP, Spokesperson for Law and Order A New Zealand First member’s bill drawn from the ballot today seeks to overhaul the youth justice system by instigating a system of demerit points for offences committed by young offenders. “The ‘Youth Justice Demerit Point System’ will put an end to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Investment in kingfish farming
    Hon. Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund is investing $6 million in a land-based aquaculture pilot to see whether yellowtail kingfish can be commercially farmed in Northland, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. A recirculating land-based aquaculture system will be built and operated ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1BT grants for Northland planting
    Hon. Shane Jones, Minister for Forestry Forestry Minister Shane Jones has announced two One Billion Trees programme grants of more than $1.18 million to help hapu and iwi in Northland restore whenua and moana. “Many communities around Aotearoa have benefited from One Billion Trees funding since the programme was launched ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand reaffirms support for Flight MH17 judicial process
    Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahead of the start of the criminal trial in the Netherlands on 9 March, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has reaffirmed the need to establish truth, accountability and justice for the downing of Flight MH17 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • PGF investment in green hydrogen
    Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister The Government is investing $19.9 million through the Provincial Growth Fund in a game-changing hydrogen energy facility in South Taranaki, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters announced today. “The development of alternative energy initiatives like this one is vital for the Taranaki region’s economy. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Coronavirus support for Pacific
    Rt. Hon. Winston Peters, Minister for Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand is partnering with countries in the Pacific to ensure they are prepared for, and able to respond to the global threat of Coronavirus (COVID-19). “There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party passes landmark law to ensure deaf and disabled voices heard equally in democracy
    Chlöe Swarbrick's Members Bill to support disabled general election candidates has passed into law. ...
    3 weeks 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
    19 hours 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
    21 hours 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 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
    2 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
    2 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
    3 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
    3 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
    3 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
    3 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
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