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NRT on MMP threshold

Written By: - Date published: 12:11 pm, July 29th, 2011 - 49 comments
Categories: MMP - Tags:

The threshold and stability

Over on Kiwiblog, DPF attempts to defend MMP’s undemocratic threshold. To his credit, he opposes Phil Goff’s nakedly self-interested desire to remove the “electorate lifeboat” clause, and supports a lower 4% threshold, as recommended by the Royal Commission on the Electoral System. But he supports a threshold for stability, to prevent “an Israel type situation where miniscule extremist parties have massive say in who forms the Government”.

This is at its heart the same reason given by the Royal Commission. In their report, they argued:

the Commission considers that the [4%] threshold is a justifiable and desirable means of preventing the proliferation of minor parties in the House. Such a proliferation could threaten the stability and effectiveness of government.

Which probably sounded good back in the safe, conformist, 2-party world of 1986, where we hadn’t had a coalition government for over fifty years, and political difference and dispute was seen as threatening. But to modern eyes, it seems quaint – not to mention sniffily undemocratic. To point out the obvious, we currently have 8 parties represented in our Parliament, and in the past have had as many as 9. And it hasn’t threatened the stability or effectiveness of government one bit (to the contrary, the present government is arguably too effective, as its constant abuse of urgencyshows).

There are two reasons for this. The first is that our political culture doesn’t support destabilising, winner-take-all, toys-out-of-the-cot tantrum politics. Winston Peters tried that in 1996, the electorate punished him for it in 1999, and our parties have learned their lesson: we expect them to get along, work together on the areas where they share common ground, and manage their differences like adults rather than trying to dictate to one another like children. And largely, they do. Our parties compromise with another. Areas of serious dispute are redlined in support agreements, and put aside for the term or punted to committee. Threats to withdraw confidence and supply and collapse the government unless they get their way are notably absent.

The second reason is mathematical: a “proliferation of minor parties” actually increases stability and effectiveness, by increasing the number of possible majority coalitions, thus reducing the bargaining power of any one party. We have a good example of this in the current Parliament: ACT can’t “hold the government to ransom” and demand big policy concessions because National has an alternative majority with the Maori Party. Meanwhile, the Maori Party can’t “hold the government to ransom” because the National has an alternative majority with ACT. The two parties effectively act as a check on each other’s demands. It was a similar situation in the 2002 Parliament, with Labour able to gain a majority with any one of United Future, NZ First, or the Greens. Having an extra 3 or 4 kibble parties at the bottom end simply increases the balance; if one of them doesn’t like your policy, then you go to another. You’re only in trouble if they all don’t like your policy, in which case its probably well-deserved (just as it would be if both ACT and the Maori Party opposed something of National’s).

So, “stability” is an illusion. There’s no reason to think that a more representative Parliament would be less stable, or a more representative government less effective, than at present. Meanwhile, this illusion costs us in democratic terms, by effectively disenfranchising (at the last election) 6.5% of the population. DPF would probably counter that those people and their views and votes aren’t important. I disagree. A core principle of democracy is that everyone’s vote should count equally. Under current arrangements, those cast for small parties don’t. That is undemocratic, it is unfair, and it is wrong. While I disagree passionately with many of our small parties, they are just as deserving of democratic representation as I am. Those who would support their disenfranchisement need an exceptionally powerful reason to justify it. And its clear from the above that “stability” just doesn’t cut it.

49 comments on “NRT on MMP threshold”

  1. Lanthanide 1

    Who wrote this? Is it a guest post?

    • Shane Gallagher 1.1

      I/S did – this looks like a re-post. Excellent article. 🙂

      • Lanthanide 1.1.1

        Right, I see on the main page that the intro blurb says it’s from No Right Turn, but that same sentence doesn’t appear anywhere in the actual article.

        Also I thought Guest Posts were normally filed under Guest Post, not The Standard. They usually also have a pre or post script noting that it is a guest post.

        • Carol 1.1.1.1

          NRT is in the Title.

        • lprent 1.1.1.2

          Guest posts are posts that are sent to us for first publish. Where we would carry the copyright if a dispute ever came up.

          The Standard is for anything that is essentially a repost of someone else’s already published material.

          We won’t edit the contents of either apart from changing the odd typo in guest posts and maybe fixing layout. That is the limit of the current policies.

          I’d normally put in a intro, a linkback, and a site related graphic for a repost and a intro for a guest post.

          After being bitched at for put those in, and having other editors being bitched at for leaving them out – well we really can’t be bothered figuring out a policy about how to present these.

          Suck it up and live with whatever the editor chooses to put in.

          • Lanthanide 1.1.1.2.1

            “Suck it up and live with whatever the editor chooses to put in.”

            Only if you don’t mind people ascribing opinions to The Standard, as it currently looks like that is the author of this post.

            That is to say, posting a press release or cartoon under The Standard, or content that doesn’t really have any opinion, is one thing. Re-posting an opinionated piece from somewhere else under The Standard and not indicating it is a re-post, is something else. IMO anyway.

    • higherstandard 1.2

      [outing will get you banned] – it’s a pretty well thought out piece of thinking.

  2. mik e 2

    I agree one person one vote simple

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      We already have that so that’s not the problem. The problem is that a fairly large percentage of those votes are wasted as our electoral system arbitrarily discounts them resulting in some people effectively having no vote.

      • Ari 2.1.1

        Right, but there’s a good argument that “wasting” large amounts of votes denies the principle of one person, one vote.

  3. freedom 3

    MMP accomodates the potential that true representation of the voters is achievable. If the trend to more and smaller parties is encouraged then electorates might end up being represented above the commercial interests that have progressively corrupted the political process of Democracy.

    Those who decry MMP are never, in my experience, people who actually want active Democracy

  4. Tigger 4

    The right uses the same argument against marriage equality. Let the gays in and it will destabilize marriage. In fact it makes us stronger if we’re all in the tent rather than left out. This is a superb piece.

  5. Stuart Baker 5

    I don’t agree with all the views here, but I understand the logic behind them. This is a good piece, and MMP really does need to be kept if we want a true democracy. Voting to keep MMP is the right thing to do to have a representative and effective government, and once it’s voted to be kept there will be an attempt to see if there is any way to improve it anyway – to see whether the threshold should be raised, lowered, or whatever else could be changed about it.
    Vote to keep MMP, and tell others to too!

  6. Tangled up in blue 6

    Why not lower the threshold to 3-4 and have it so that if a party wins an electorate seat it can only bring in extra party members if it has passed the threshold?

    • Lanthanide 6.1

      “Why not lower the threshold to 3-4 and have it so that if a party wins an electorate seat it can only bring in extra party members if it has passed the threshold?”

      Because in that case winning the electorate seat is irrelevant. If the Greens win 7% of the vote, they don’t need to also win an electorate seat.

      My preference is for 3.5%, and winning an electorate seat lets you bring in a maximum of 1 more MP should your party vote be large enough for one.

      Eg if you win an electorate seat and have 3% of the vote, you get 2 MPs. If you win an electorate seat and have 0.3% of the vote, you just get the single seat for the electorate winner.

      • Tangled up in blue 6.1.1

        I assume that electorate seats would be relevant to parties with who might not make a lower threshold but could win an electorate? (Mana, UF, Progressive)

        But yeah I do see your point.

      • Alwyn 6.1.2

        As far as I can follow your logic that would mean that National and Labour would only be allowed a single list MP each. After all they have won an electorate and therefore are only allowed a single list MP as well.

        • Lanthanide 6.1.2.1

          In the case that both Labour and National got less than the new 3.5% threshold, yes.

          • Alwyn 6.1.2.1.1

            OK. I didn’t read it that way at first.
            It would be quite unfair to hold them to the single electorate seat of course. The wouldn’t even be able to move anything in Parliament without the support of another party as you have to have a mover and a seconder.

      • felix 6.1.3

        And the point of having a threshold in your scenario, Lanth?

  7. While I disagree passionately with many of our small parties, they are just as deserving of democratic representation as I am. Those who would support their disenfranchisement need an exceptionally powerful reason to justify it. And its clear from the above that “stability” just doesn’t cut it.

    I agree with this. Large parties claim”instability” is a threat, but what’s really at threat is their level of power.

    We should have as representative a system as possible. If we end up with more small parties and independent MPs then our democracy will be better for it.

  8. mikesh 8

    I think we should get rid of the threshold altogether. Many voters will not vote for their preferred party if they think that party has no chance of reaching the threshold. This “wasted vote” factor, I believe, operates as a sort of self fulfilling prophecy, depriving many small parties of their potential support.

    • Luxated 8.1

      Agreed, I’m not sure why we ever needed the threshold in the first place, it just seems to be a hangover from the German system. To be honest I’d much rather have a few fringe candidates every other election than to restrict someone’s choice in how their views will be represented.

  9. Rich 9

    I’d favour a threshold of two MPs, with no coat-tailing. If a party only gets enough votes for one list MP, then it isn’t a party, it’s a one-man-band.

    • Tigger 9.1

      What’s wrong with that if that one person has gained enough national votes? Some of us come from minority groups. If we can get someone in Parliament then what is the issue?

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    There should not be a threshold. If a party can get enough support for a seat in parliament (~0.8% of votes) then they deserve a seat and should have one. Not giving them one, as the present system does, is removing peoples choice in representation.

    • Tangled up in blue 10.1

      Do you propose to scrap the electorate seats?

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

        I’m in two minds about that. I’d to like drop the electorate seats but also think that local representation is important. One solution for this would be to have electorates voted for after the election with the electorate representatives chosen from the now sitting MPs. Another option would be to drop the electorates and have local councils having a more active role within national government.

        • freedom 10.1.1.1

          to achieve that we would only have to align the local bodies to the electorate map or vice-versa so that the Mayor becomes the Mp, and appoints a deputy who is effectively mayor

          this idea would be impossible at this time as we have the ridiculous Super City elephant in the room

        • Luxated 10.1.1.2

          That is a similar line of thought to one I’ve had innumerable times, DTB. I figure that local representation in central government needs the following things:

          Impartiality: Issues brought up by the electorate are raised with central government regardless of the perceived politics of the issue.

          Immune to pork barrelling: Look at the US system and how many defence contracts (in particular) are extended nigh on indefinitely just to keep the factories in the right representative’s state.

          Accessible: As much as practical members of the electorate must be able to discuss issues with their representative.

          By those three measures electorate MPs either fail or are compromised severely: They’re not impartial, although pork barrelling doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem in the current political climate there is still a risk of it, electorate MPs given ministerial posts or similar positions have substantially less time for their electorate.

          Of course that list isn’t perfect or even necessarily complete, I welcome discussion on it though.

          Just how to go about providing the representation required is a different kettle of fish however. For example does the position have to be elected or would it be equally well served by one or more public servants? Is it even required at all, perhaps the electorate MPs function can largely be absorbed by the councils?

  11. nadis 11

    the perfect world (for me) would be an electorate based system that (perhaps magically) reflected proportionality. personally i’m all for real PR, but I really dislike the party list aspect of MMP. Sometimes I’d like to vote for a party but not some of its members, and if they are on the list then tough luck. Plus, MP’s should be accountable and accessable in the electorate. There are plenty of nat and labour MPS who have no real connection or presence to an electorate, but do have a high list ranking which has been given to them by a very small number of decision makers (greens excepted). Perversely, smaller parties often tend to have much more local presence (ACT, UF, Anderton etc).

    • Carol 11.1

      Local presence is not the only important factor. People who are high on a party list are likely to get portfolio’s or shadow roles. These are the people who make discsions about/for, or challenge policies that impact on, all Kiwis. I like having an electorate vote, plus a vote for the party that I would most like to make decisions for the whole country.

    • Lanthanide 11.2

      What about MMP where incumbents MPs who have won electorate seats are not allowed to be put onto the party list. Exceptions made for the top 2 spots – party leader and deputy/co-leader are allowed to stand in electorates and also on the list.

      This tweak would mean that the party list was not a simple fall-back for poor performers and would ensure that electorate MPs actually got involved with their electorate or risk losing at the next election.

    • mikesh 11.3

      This could presumably be achieved if list seats were allocated in accordance with the proportion of votes a candidate received in his or her electorate.

    • the perfect world (for me) would be an electorate based system that (perhaps magically) reflected proportionality. personally i’m all for real PR, but I really dislike the party list aspect of MMP.

      Totally possible.

      You want STV with largish electorates.

  12. prism 12

    the Commission considers that the [4%] threshold is a justifiable and desirable means of preventing the proliferation of minor parties in the House. Such a proliferation could threaten the stability and effectiveness of government….

    The conservatives say that a low threshold would mean more parties and ‘instability’. I/S shows that’s not only mathematically false, it’s not a reason to deny people democratic representation.

    What an impractical ideological assertion that is. I/S is saying that we should throw away our ability to run the country in a stable way, so that any politically-obssessed person who can garner enough supporters can get leverage on our parliament for whatever personal crusade or one issue advantage they want. I am not a Conservative. I agree that many parties would threaten stability and effectiveness of government and I don’t see why taking that view should result in being labelled a Con.

    The party system with 5% or at the least 4% threshhold which we have under MMP now, I consider, is preferable to having a lot of tiny parties which would be practically a bunch of independents. I noticed some time ago when Le Pen the rightist anti-immigrant nearly got office in France that the left vote, though overwhelming overall, was sliced up by numerous little parties with apparently incompatible views.

    In 2002 elections for the French National Assembly there were 13 minor parties and three major with the National Party’s Le Pen beating the socialist Jospin 16.86% to 16.18% and Chirac’s party only getting 19.88%. By splitting the vote with nine left minor parties under 5%, the far right, anti-human rights legislation candidate managed to rise with a firm right vote
    (Figures from Wikipedia French presidential election, 2002).
    In the 2007 elections for the National Assembly – the two major parties, 7 small parties, also 11 tiny parties that together got 26 seats in the 577 seat assembly. Sarkozy has two smaller parties in coalition for the 5 year term. http://www.parties-and-elections.de/france.html

  13. Ed 13

    I agree with no threshold – an electorate seat may well be possible with fewer votes than a list candidate, but I don’t see a practical alternative to allowing that very small bias in favour of electorate MPs.

    Any system can result in a fragmented parliament – even Australia with far less proportional a system has a government depending on ‘independents’. In such a situation it is possible that another election may well be required earlier than normal, but that does not seem unreasonable either.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.1

      …an electorate seat may well be possible with fewer votes than a list candidate, but I don’t see a practical alternative to allowing that very small bias in favour of electorate MPs.

      STV for electorate voting. It won’t make it exactly equal but it would make much closer.

    • prism 13.2

      @Ed Your example of Australia and Independents is facile. We have independents here involved with government. It is the number of independents that is important to control or we will end up with increased political feuding and name calling instead of time spent on consideration of the country’s progress, instead we’ll get increasing regress.

  14. Afewknowthetruth 14

    If voting made any real difference the powers that be would have made it illegal long ago.

  15. alex 15

    There is no reason for any threshold, and debates over which arbitrary number it should be are stupid. If a party gets enough of a party vote to get a seat, it should get a seat. If they get enough of a party vote to get a seat and win one electorate, they should get one seat. If they win one electorate and get enough party vote for two seats, they should get two seats. See where I’m going with this? It could all be so very simple, fair and democratic.

  16. alex 16

    Prism – There would be fringe groups represented in Parliament. So what? There are fringe groups in society. Are you suggesting they don’t have the right of representation if they can only muster 20,000 votes, as opposed to 100,000? The numbers needed for even 1 percent of an election are significant, easily worth giving a seat in Parliament to. Outcomes such as ‘instability’ are clearly a load of bollocks, because individual MPs simply aren’t that powerful. The majority would still rule, minorities would just have a chance to have a say.

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      What do you mean by ‘minority’ in this context? We don’t really need joke party MPs or Jedi Party MPs in Parliament do we?

      I’m pretty sure The Jedi Party could score 3 or 4 MPs in an election, easily.

      Well now that I mention it, maybe this is a good idea 😛

      • felix 16.1.1

        “We don’t really need joke party MPs or Jedi Party MPs in Parliament do we?”

        You mean as well as the joke party mps we have now? Or instead of?

      • alex 16.1.2

        But if people actually want to use their vote for a Jedi party, who are you to tell them they can’t? To be honest, a vote for the Jedi party would in my opinion signal a general disgust with all parties, sort of like a vote of no confidence. That is an entirely legitimate political expression, no matter how it manifests itself.

        Plus the Jedi party would be very persuasive.

    • prism 16.2

      Another comment relevant to not having lots of little parties giving it a go in parliament. I found this quotation in a book under Minority – The political machine works because it is a united minority acting against a divided majority. Will Durant

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    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    5 days ago
  • After the Pandemic
    It will pass. What happens next? Not immediately, but longer term. There are many opinions, fewer certainties. Will it “change everything!” as many confidently, and contradictorily predict? In this post I look at how foresight can help bound some of the uncertainties so you can more objectively consider the future. ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    6 days ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    6 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    6 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    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 ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    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
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    7 days ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    7 days ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 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.
    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 ...
    2 weeks 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
    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
    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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
    10 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
    12 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
    16 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
    16 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
    19 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
    1 day 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
    6 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
    6 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
    6 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
    6 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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