Open mike 10/02/2023

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, February 10th, 2023 - 164 comments
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Open mike is your post.

For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

The usual rules of good behaviour apply (see the Policy).

Step up to the mike …

164 comments on “Open mike 10/02/2023 ”

  1. Adrian Thornton 1

    If you didn't know already, it turns out the US is a terrorist state with a terrorist leader Joseph Biden…..the most aggressive one in the world, these guys make ISIS look like kids in the playground….as exposed by one of America's and the Worlds most distinguished and celebrated journalists, Seymour Hersh

    How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline

    "Biden’s decision to sabotage the pipelines came after more than nine months of highly secret back and forth debate inside Washington’s national security community about how to best achieve that goal."

    "Last June, the Navy divers, operating under the cover of a widely publicized mid-summer NATO exercise known as BALTOPS 22, planted the remotely triggered explosives that, three months later, destroyed three of the four Nord Stream pipelines, according to a source with direct knowledge of the operational planning."

    Some of what we know so far…

    1. The Germans who where acting as a neutral party in peace negotiations leading up to this war, where in fact, by their own admission, only using their extremely privileged position to buy time for Ukraine to arm and train itself.

    2.NATO was arming and training the Ukrainian military prior to the invasion.

    3. The West (USA/UK) actively stopped peace negioiation between Russia/Ukraine early on in the conflict.

    4. The USA planned to destroy Nord Stream 2 before the Russian invasion.

    5. Military stocks boom..of course.

    1. US Energy/Gas stocks boom…of course.

    Interesting (some would say even suspicious) how it is always the same Western industries and interests that seem to benefit from every war/intervention their countries get involved in…..

    • lprent 1.1

      So the US invaded Ukraine?

      You really are a completely gullible idiot. This appears to be hearsay from a single unidentified source with absolutely no background of how they were able to know. Zero evidence presented. Just a whole pile of waffle based on "they could have done it".

      In fact the whole article seems to hinge on some statements from the US executive that Nord 2 would not go ahead if Russia invaded Ukraine – without any specificity of means – of which there were many apart from military options.

      In other words, I'd class this as pure unsubstantiated fiction regardless of the writer. Along with the rest of your statement also which don't have any more support than supposition and waffle.

      Whereas the Russian Federation invaded and annexed parts of a neighbouring country. Is directly responsible for the actions that caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, devastation of infrastructure, has a documented history of atrocities and war crimes against civilians.

      Yet somehow you appear to ignore those every time. I guess that you just don't hold the Russian Federation up to the same standards even when there is actual visible proof.

      I am get tired of this, especially as you never engage about actual proof of actual actions. If you don't want to comment there, then just carry on as you are. As a rampant and quite stupid hypocrite.

      • Adrian Thornton 1.1.1

        "You really are a completely gullible idiot"…I have seen where you source your news from, so that coming from you means fuck all.

        "I am get tired of this, especially as you never engage about actual proof of actual actions" …I have responded to your previous comments to me on this subject, point by point…people can go back and check on those thorough dismantling of your weak and flimsy narratives if they wish…however I am not going to waste my time debating someone as rude and as obnoxious as you going forward.

        You want to debate me here on TS, fine, anytime..but I am not going to let you talk to me in such a manner…..I will be in AKL some time this year, how about you DM your number I will contact you when I come through, and you can say that shit to my face and we can get this unpleasantness over and done with once and for all…but in the mean time don't comment to me here unless you can refrain from your usual vile outbursts.

        • Francesca 1.1.1.1

          I find when someone resorts to vile, intemperate, insulting language directed at the poster rather than the argument , under the pretext of robust debate, they either have no real argument , or are too irrationally engaged to present their argument credibly.

          Initially when I was the target of these attacks, I was aghast and astonished, but now I scroll right on past .I do read this person's posts when they are lucid and devoid of the contemptuous and arrogant rants.

          But , as an "owner" of the site, he is entitled apparently to a fair bit of dick swinging and weight throwing not available to the rest of us plebs without instant bannings

          • Incognito 1.1.1.1.1

            Feel free to address Lprent’s arguments and challenge to Adrian’s comment. Or remain in your self-made bubble of niceness telling youself only the stories you choose to believe in.

            • Brigid 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Francesca choose to address Lprent's 'vile, intemperate, insulting language'. As a moderator yourself it's a shame you don't have the courage to do the same.

              • roblogic

                It's appropriate to be angry about Putin's egregious war and the RW disinfo merchants running Kremlin lines.

              • Incognito

                Francesca chose to ignore the actual arguments made by Lprent, as did Adrian and you.

                Calling Adrian a gullible idiot and a stupid hypocrite is not vile, IMO, and when accompanied by loads of decent arguments and counter-arguments it can be part of robust debate (but doesn't have to).

                Francesca, Adrian, and you all choose to focus on the red flag and the messenger instead of on the content of the message, which is what Lprent said to Adrian, but which all three of you wilfully ignored. How typical!

                So, please cry your crocodile tears somewhere else, e.g., a padded echo chamber where you’ll feel loved & understood by likeminded snowflakes. You can call it the Putin Lovers’ Nest, if you like.

                • Adrian Thornton

                  "You can call it the Putin Lovers’ Nest, if you like"….so infantile..yet of course. also so unsurprising coming from Incognito.

            • Francesca 1.1.1.1.1.2

              There were no arguments.There was only opinion.LPrent did not want to engage in debate.You don't treat another commenter with such disrespect and arrogance if you want an intelligent exchange.H/e says he wants proof.What proof does he offer apart from western oriented media.Are those western news sources impartial and beyond reproach?Have they never lied before?

              • Incognito

                Oh, FFS! Get over yourself and get a grip.

                It was not just another commenter; it was Adrian he replied to. Context is important!

                Unsubstantiated hearsay from a single unknown source is just noise and a nuisance to robust debate. The burden of proof is with the one who makes the claim(s). Yet, you seem to accept it as Gospel and flip your lid when somebody questions your belief, which is unquestionable for you but other people’s beliefs are not (and must be wrong, in your binary worldview). Your one-eyed view is on full display for all to see with both eyes open.

        • roblogic 1.1.1.2

          I posted this same article yesterday with minimal comment because it is a good read on its own merit. We all know the USA is capable of this kind of thing.

          But there's no need to extrapolate that into a topsy turvy world where the USA instigated the whole Ukraine situation. That's on Putin

          • Incognito 1.1.1.2.1

            Fortunately, your commenting style is different from Adrian’s and het gets all the attention he craves and deserves. I am pretty confident that you will live longer here.

        • Jimmy 1.1.1.3

          Unfortunately a couple of the site moderators do not seem to be able to debate without the personal abuse when they disagree. Francesca above nails it. The threat of the ban. Around a month? ago I remember reading open mike, it made me laugh when a commentator who I had replied to in the past, up and left voluntarily before being banned as they were not "allowed" to disagree or have a different view point.

          [Looks like you might be twisting the truth to create a distorted reality of what the issue was. You make the claim, you back it up, and it had better be accurate and unambiguous (i.e. factually correct). You’re in Pre-Mod for now and please don’t ‘make me laugh’ – Incognito]

          • Incognito 1.1.1.3.1

            Mod note

            • Jimmy 1.1.1.3.1.1

              What part do you want me to back up? The abuse comment is simply above (comment 1.1). Or the fact some one left before being banned?

              • Incognito

                The ban threat and what it was for if indeed it was mentioned at all by a Mod

                • Jimmy

                  Again comment 1.1 above implied ban.

                  "If you don't want to comment there, then just carry on as you are. As a rampant and quite stupid hypocrite."

                  • Incognito

                    The one of about a month ago

                    • Jimmy

                      Here's one of your to me in the "Much to do about nothing" article:

                      "If both answers are “yes” then you may have a point. If not then you’re simply trolling and one step closer to a well-earned long holiday."

                      I'll look back in the weekend and see if I can find the commenter who left as I cant remember their name and I'm pretty sure they haven't commented since.

                    • Incognito []

                      That’s not a helpful reply at all and not what I asked for at all; so far, you’ve only managed to waste my time.

                      Don’t bother with any other comments until you’re out of Pre-Mod, assuming you don’t end up with a ban, because they’ll all go to Trash. I hope for you that you have a very good memory!

                      Have a good weekend.

                    • Jimmy

                      So do I look up the one a month ago or not bother?

                    • Incognito []

                      Your choice or just take it on the chin now

                    • Jimmy

                      27/12/22 comments 5.xxxx

                      There were actually two people. Ed and Jester.

                      I haven't seen any further comments from them.

                      [Here’s what you need to do: explain what exactly Jester was moderated for and why (https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-27-12-2022/#comment-1928369). Also, explain the same for Ed’s moderation (https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-27-12-2022/#comment-1928465). BTW, Jester has indeed left, it seems, and Ed copped a ban, as you can see from the trail.

                      Then explain precisely what you have in common with those two examples and the reason why you’re currently in Pre-Mod.

                      Depending on your answers, you either receive a one-week ban for wasting Mod time or for one year for making up false misleading unsubstantiated claims. This is the final note on this – Incognito]

                    • Incognito []

                      Mod note

              • Francesca

                I think you're referring to Red Logix, and I was sorry to see him go .He's a fair and intelligent commenter, and I appreciated his sincerity and decency, even though there were plenty of times I disagreed with him

                • Incognito

                  If you can think then you can link, yes? Leave it to Jimmy to respond to the Mod note for him, thanks.

                  • Adrian Thornton

                    "Ah, yes! Your infamous projection is on full display again"….ah yes our very own armchair Freud…unfortunately for us, not a very perceptive or insightful one…still good for the occasional laugh though….so not a complete loss.

                • roblogic

                  RL made some great contributions, seems like a decent fellow, but his comments about vaccines, 3 waters, Māori culture were getting tedious

                  • Adrian Thornton

                    RL has said some stuff that has made my jaw drop..it seemed to me that he really believed that everyone in the world wants to live like western white man….ie; like him.

                    • Incognito

                      Ah, yes! Your infamous projection is on full display again here. You mischaracterise people and misrepresent their words just to suit your own narrow view and narrative.

        • Mike the Lefty 1.1.1.4

          Seymour Hersh is a good example of how success can go to your head.

          True, he did good work in exposing the My Lai massacre cover-up but increasingly his work has been weak, fallible and discredited because of Hersh's lack of proof and reliance on "anonymous sources".

          He sounds more like a conspiracy theorist and less like a credible journalist every day and I don't place any faith in people like that to tell the truth.

      • Mr Nobody 1.1.2

        Lprent, have you by chance read 'How the West Brought War to Ukraine: Understanding How U.S. and NATO Policies Led to Crisis, War, and the Risk of Nuclear Catastrophe' by Benjamin Abelow?

        It's a very short book (80 pages or so from memory) and available on Scribd (https://bityl.co/H5TN) and well worth the hour or so it takes to read and provides a very good view of the crisis from the Russian perspective and has received the below reviews/feedback.

        If you have the chance I would be very interested in your thoughts after reading it.

        "Very well-done…. Reviews material that should be much better known."
        Noam Chomsky

        "A brilliant, remarkably concise explanation of the danger that U.S and NATO military involvement in Ukraine has created. Needs to be read and pondered by every citizen capable of thinking rationally and responsibly about American and European security."
        Jack F. Matlock, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, 1987-1991

        "This is a splendid little book, taughtly written, logically organized, easy to read and persuasive but appropriately caveated. It is an invaluable primer on the trends and events that produced the escalating warfare in Ukraine. Without understanding the history documented in this book, there will be no de-escalation of the US-Russian confrontation on Europe's eastern borders."
        Chas Freeman, previously Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs

        "For anyone interested in understanding the true causes of the disaster in Ukraine, How the West Brought War to Ukraine is required reading. Abelow makes a clear and compelling case that the United States and its NATO allies—not Vladimir Putin—are the principal culprits."
        John J. Mearsheimer, The R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago

        "For those concerned about U.S. national security and the peace of Europe, this book is essential reading."
        Colonel Douglas Macgregor (Retired), U.S. Army, served as Director of NATO's Joint Operations Center at SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers in Europe)

        "A concise yet comprehensive and accessible overview. Invaluable for understanding how war once again came to Europe."
        Richard Sakwa, Professor of Russian and European Politics, University of Kent

        "Ben Abelow takes us beyond the false narratives and into the truth of the Ukraine crisis."
        Krishen Mehta, Senior Global Justice Fellow, Yale University, and Director, American Committee for US-Russia Accord

        "Any thinking reader who would better understand the myriad of influences on the Ukraine situation needs to read this book."
        Midwest Book Reviews, Reviewed by ​D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer

        • UncookedSelachimorpha 1.1.2.2

          Couldn't help but notice the many Ukrainians among those praising and commenting on that… material.

        • SPC 1.1.2.3

          One could read what Patrick and quasimodo wrote in their reviews first …

          https://www.amazon.com/How-West-Brought-Ukraine-Understanding/dp/0991076702

          If you only read one book on the Russian invasion, please don't let it be this one. If you want to read it as another view after you've read others (which is what I did), that makes more sense. This is a frustrating book when you know what's going on there. Abelow quotes very few people, and does so over and over again. These people are scholars who share his view, like Richard Sawka, others who are either aligned with Russia Today (RT), or work in Russian universities, or he completely misquotes others (most notably Fiona Hill, an absolutely laughable and misguided attempt to discredit one of the most knowledgeable scholars on the region. Yes, she's very pro-Ukraine and anti-Putin; at least she had the good sense to appropriately source her books).

          This is one of those books where the author starts out with a grain of truth, and then completely fails to successful argue his point. Is war bad? Yes. Has the United States done some terrible things throughout the world? Yes again. But just because the US has done terrible things in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc., doesn't automatically mean that it is responsible for the war in Ukraine. Instead, the author uses the past as a pretext to argue his point about what is currently happening in Ukraine. And he does it unconvincingly.

          Most notably, Abelow conveniently omits many facts that are inconvenient to his argument. He fails to mention the Budapest Memorandum and the two Minsk agreements when trying to argue that Putin is simply trying to protect Russia. Putin has told us why he's invading Ukraine: Because they aren't a country and he wants to wipe it off the face of the map. Why the author can't see this is perhaps his greatest weakness. He also fails to even mention Russia's occupation of Moldova (see: Transnistria) and their horrifying wars in Chechnya (one launched by Putin under possibly pretextual circumstances: read about the Moscow apartment bombings and decide for yourself). Chechnya is a perfect blueprint for what Putin is doing today in Ukraine.

          Abelow seems terribly concerned about the US involvement in wars and conflicts around the world, yet brushes past (only once) Russia's war crimes, crimes that include the rape of women and children, the mass murder of innocent citizens, and the indiscriminate bombing of civilian locations, including homes, schools, and shopping centers.

          When Abelow can't site a source, he falls back on the tactic of turning the statement in the form of a question, or starts the sentence with "maybe." For example, on page 8 he states that the US "helped lay the groundwork, and MAY HAVE DIRECTLY INSTIGATED, an armed, far-right coup in Ukraine." This is unsourced. On page 16, he writes, "Russia correctly perceived that America was directly involved—certainly in laying foundation for the coup, and POSSIBLY IN FOMENTING THE VIOLENCE." Again this is unsourced. This occurs over and over again throughout the text.

          Other times he is clearly trying to mislead. On p. 21 he quotes someone who stated that "Operation Sea Breeze almost provoked Russia to fire at a British naval destroyer that deliberately entered what Russia considers its territorial waters." What the author doesn't tell you is that those "territorial" waters are outside of Crimea, a region he basically stole from Ukraine in 2014.

          The author's analysis of the 2014 protests in Ukraine are, at best, delusional, and also is misleading. His most important omission has to do with how he describes then-president Yanukovych. On multiple occasions, he refers to the pro-Russian president as "democratically elected." While true, he fails to mention all of the unilateral changes he made while in office, changes that were intended to keep him in power and put Ukraine on a path toward authoritarianism. The author knows this — it's common knowledge. He omitted it because it doesn't help his argument. He then mentions, again without sourcing, that the US helped install a pro-Western president without democratic election. While Oleksandr Turchynov was temporarily installed, a new election was held only four months later, where Petro Poroshenko won what is considered a fair election. And Zelenskyy won five years later in another fair election.

          I could go on — I marked up the book on almost every page. I'm hoping to show that this isn't the best book for a primer of what is going on in Ukraine. There are better books on the subject that are far more accurate, books I'm sure Abelow wouldn't endorse. I've read about 15 books on the conflict, and after 4 or 5 you start to see patterns emerge where you get a good idea of what's true and what's not. Here are some better reads for those interested:

          For info on the 2014 protests: "Ukraine Diaries" by Andrey Kurkov, Christopher Smith's excellent "Ukraine's Revolt, Russia's Revenge" (Smith worked for the US Dept of State at the time, so Abelow would hate this account), and "The Ukrainian Night" by Marci Shore. Also watch Netflix's "Winter on Fire."

          For info on the Ukraine-Russia conflict: "Ukraine and Russia" by Paul D'Anieri is stellar, as is "Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know" by Serhy Yekelchyk. Also "Putin's War Against Ukraine" by Taras Kuzio.

          And for an insider's account, Iuliia Mendel has written an excellent account of the rise of Zelenskyy in "The Fight of Our Lives." She worked in the president's administration.

          quaisimodo is more brief.

      • Brigitte 1.1.3

        "So the US invaded Ukraine?"

        So where did Adrian say that? You've made it up and then launched into a stream of abuse. I'm disgusted by this and some of the responses below whereby you and some other commenters (and moderators) decided what is "right" and those not agreeing are fair game for abuse. With no push back (let alone bans).

        I don't agree with most of Adrian's points (and only partly with the other points) but they are backed up with links. If you can't reply without abuse then you shouldn't bother.

        • Incognito 1.1.3.1

          crying

          Adrian didn’t say that, obviously. It was a (rhetorical) question that followed logically from Adrian’s comment(s) but Adrian never really has the balls to go all the way and say what he really thinks and means.

          Again, I did not see “a stream of abuse” and you are exaggerating the two moderate and brief insults.

          And again, you do not address the core argument presented by Lprent – you can join the echo chamber club too, as you have earned your spot. Congratulations!

        • Jenny are we there yet 1.1.3.2

          "So the US invaded Ukraine?"

          It is a rhetorical question, a rhetorical rephrasing if you will, of the very obvious fact that it is the Russian Federation has invaded Ukraine.

          The US did not attack Ukraine, Russia did.

          After facing stiff resistance from the armed forces of Ukraine the Russian Federation have attacked the Ukrainian people directly with gratuitous targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

          Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure serve zero military purpose, and act only to harden Ukrainians support for their country's defenders.

    • Sanctuary 1.2

      What if I told Alderaan blew itself up?

    • Beverly 1.3

      Adrian You're not alone in regarding Seymour Hersh as a valid commentator. Caitlyn Johnstone agrees and I find her views valuable,

      https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/my-sources-corroborate-sy-hershs?utm_source=post-email-title&publication_id=82124&post_id=101973939&isFreemail=true&utm_medium=email

      • tWiggle 1.3.1

        There was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing about the journalistic solidness of Hersh in yesterday's posts, if you want to revisit it.

        A few things that make me pause…

        I feel Russia would have kicked up an enormous fuss at the time if they had a firm belief this was a US-organised mission.

        Tass is very supportive of Hersh's article, based on circumstantial evidence plus deep-throat insider info, which appeared on his blog.

        Russia attacked Kyiv, an unannounced attack on a sovereign nation's capital designed to overthrow the elected government. They carried this out without extensive diplomatic signals of unhappiness with Ukraine that clearly promised military escalation to a full war. The Russian military build-up was mostly considered posturing by Ukraine, the US and Europe until the invasion happened.

        Russia therefore ruled out the chance of a non-military diplomatic compromise between it and Ukraine. Russia could also have staged a limited campaign in the Donbas region, in which case, in my view, we would most likely not be having this debate now.

        By ignoring or openly abusing diplomatic channels, Russia in effect took on NATO and Europe in this invasion, showing it to be unpredictable and unwilling to act in good faith within Europe. All this does not discount Ukraine ultranationalism and corruption, and US and NATO manoevering in the region. The critical step is Russia's nation-busting decision.

      • joe90 1.3.2

        and I find her views valuable,

        The views of someone who advocates collaborating with a racist misogynist are valuable?

        /

        • roblogic 1.3.2.1

          Caitlin Johnstone does a good job of collecting a lot of facts, but unfortunately in service to a misleading narrative.

          https://twitter.com/GeorgeMonbiot/status/1623593264740814848?s=20

          • Incognito 1.3.2.1.1

            Useful idiots

            • Adrian Thornton 1.3.2.1.1.1

              Useful idiots…the only two words you have said all day that I agree with Incognito….yes it is a sad but true fact that the Liberal left has without question, become the Useful idiots and willing servants of maintaining Western Hegemony…and at any cost it would seem.

              This is extremist, imperialist ideology is expressed routinely by many commenters on this site, every single day…quite a bit of that rhetoric has been expressed on this very thread infact.

              Useful idiots…yep, enough said.

              • SPC

                You have no idea how much some of the people on this site have annoyed the western hegemony.

                • Adrian Thornton

                  They might well have in the past (probably in pre Trump era, which seemed to have broken a lot of good peoples heads) …but not lately, and when I say lately I mean for as long as I have read TS, which is a few years.

              • tWiggle

                Adrian Thornton. If you think the Russian Federation is still a workers' paradise, and not an autocratic oligarch state, run by a liar who supports bad actor disruption via social media of perfectly happy countries, including NZ, then you are as deluded as anyone supporting the Western hegemony.

                Scrub that perfectly happy, may be a bit optimistic.

                • Adrian Thornton

                  "the Russian Federation is still a workers' paradise"…I have never thought, let alone said nor typed such a thing…try again.

                  • tWiggle

                    Well, you don't even-handedly rail against both corrupt camps, so I guess you do uncritically support a post-Soviet, autocratic, capitalist and expansionist Russia over Western Hegemony. I would have more respect for you, frankly, if your position was a pro-communist remnant. I cannot see what your motivation is otherwise, unless it's pro-Russian nationalism.

                    • tWiggle

                      PS using the language of the old Soviet regime…Western hegemony…imperialist, etc, does wave some 'Red Flags', so to speak.

                    • Adrian Thornton

                      "Well, you don't even-handedly rail against both corrupt camps"…that would be because I live in the camp where there nothing but endless wall to wall pro war propaganda spewed out from all media, so the first issue at hand in my view is to add in some small way some much needed context and balance on my side of the 'camp'…I would have thought that was the sane and right thing to do?

                    • Adrian Thornton

                      "using the language of the old Soviet regime…Western hegemony…imperialist, etc, does wave some 'Red Flags', so to speak"…I don't see a problem with that language…if the shoe fits etc.

              • Incognito

                Look down …

    • SPC 1.4

      Some of what we know so far…

      1. The Germans who were acting as a neutral party in peace negotiations leading up to this war, where in fact, by their own admission, only using their extremely privileged position to buy time for Ukraine to arm and train itself

      Yes this is what they told their NATO partners – they had also agreed to increase defence spending to 2% by 2024 in 2014 (and yet, had made no increase before the invasion of Ukraine).

      They wanted a strong Ukraine to deter a Russian attack and allow for an economic relationship with Russia to continue and develop further – they were in a position to withdraw from NATO iF Russia chose peaceful co-existence. But Putin blinked, frightened by the shadow of death, because of his ill health.

      2. NATO was arming and training the Ukrainian military prior to the invasion

      True and Russians were engaged in exercises in preparation for the invasion of Ukraine. They knew it would either take a strong Ukraine or diplomatic concessions to deter a Russian attack. They were not the diplomats.

      3. The West (USA/UK) actively stopped peace negotiation between Russia and Ukraine early in the conflict.

      All it took was expressions of support for Ukraine, if they fought on.

      4. The USA planned to destroy Nord Stream 2 before the Russian invasion.

      Probably. They did want the option of destroying it, if Ukraine was attacked. Russia would use the offer of gas supply to undermine western/German will otherwise.

      Once Ukraine was invaded, German policy changed to full commitment to the continuance of NATO and the end to the economic relationship with Russia.

      5. Military stocks boom of course

      Yeah sure Gazprom now wants its own mercenary force as a new sideline business (their pension fund already has banking and media interests). And the Germans are about to double their spending on defence.

      • tWiggle 1.4.1

        Point 3, to add that, I got the sense that, in early war de-escalation talks Ukraine genuinely went into talks hoping to contain the conflict, but Russia also stalled the talks to gain tactical advantage. Ukraine would have been fatally stupid if they were not also frantically drumming up military support as an option.

        Point 4, Germany tore up the GazProm contract a week or two before the pipeline was destroyed.

  2. pat 2

    "3 Waters is smoke and mirrors"…an honest and informed discussion around infrastructure needs with Raf Manji on RNZ this morning (link posted when available).

    TOP (political party) is increasingly looking like a potential electoral threshold breaker at the approaching election…future polls will be interesting.

    • lprent 2.2

      TOP (political party) is increasingly looking like a potential electoral threshold breaker…

      It doesn't seem likely. Based on polling over the past year, NZF has a far better chance based on past performances of election results exceeding polling.

      The TPM definitely does because of the electoral seat and small but significant percentages. They are routinely out-polling TOP and actually look like they will retain their electoral seat lifeline.

      TOP really isn't registering as a viable alternative, has a history of getting lower in elections than polling, and I really can't see any reason in their policies why they would do any better this time than previously.

    • tWiggle 2.3

      Perhaps a bit more of a backgrounder on Raf Manji's priorities for TOP:

      https://www.taxpayers.org.nz/manji_podcast

      UBI is central to TOP's platform, is the tie-breaker for Manji's involvement in a coalition. To me, there's a waft of UKism about his structural reform suggestions.

      Manji calls TOP the party of solutions, with elements from all political directions. That's appealing. He criticises, probably fairly, the pastiche approach to legislative fixes by the government.

      • weka 2.3.1

        They do some good policy/ideas promotion, but their UBI policy is still fraught with problems. If they enabled Nact into government the danger is we would end up with a terrible system and welfare being hacked apart.

        • roblogic 2.3.1.1

          I'm a fan of Raf Manji.

          His tax policies are still some of the best around. Wealth taxes, closing loopholes, land tax,, lower income tax, better welfare. Quite progressive stuff that deserves more airtime, Labour are boring incrementalists

          • weka 2.3.1.1.1

            it's not better welfare, it's worse welfare. I've written multiple posts on how their policies would make vulnerable people worse off. https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-09-02-2023/#comment-1934420

            Like I said, they have some good ideas and policies but this is a major flaw in their world view and proposal for implementation. They've had this pointed out to them many times (I started when Morgan was still in charge).

            You can follow that link to my twitter conversation with them.

          • weka 2.3.1.1.2

            removing top ups for anyone on the dole currently. This is poverty generating.

            https://twitter.com/wekatweets/status/1623868344624635904

            • roblogic 2.3.1.1.2.1

              I don’t share your skepticism. Meanwhile Labour has discarded most of the recommendations of the WEAG and promoted Sepuloni who was the main ignorer

              • weka

                snort, there's not argument from me about the problems with Labour. But the useful comparison is between TOP and the Greens.

            • James Thrace 2.3.1.1.2.2

              That is not what TOP said at all.

              If your various top ups mean you get more than what the UBI is, you keep it + UBI.

              If your various top ups etc are less than UBI, then UBI replaces it (i.e. you receive more with a UBI).

              So there is no disadvantage to existing beneficiaries.

              • weka

                I'm really experienced with welfare issues, and they're really bad at explaining policy currently.

                Also, I'm not talking about existing beneficiaries, I'm talking about anyone needing income support post-introduction of a UBI.

                • roblogic

                  Maybe I’m an idiot on the “technocratic fringe” (thanks Sanc!) but I like the idea of TOP being a spanner in the works and disrupting the status quo that only serves the wealthiest and leaves everyone else behind

                  • weka

                    Sure, and I'd be much more supportive of them and see them as an addition to the GP, TPM, MMP landscape if they'd sort their shit out around welfare. The dominant narrative on the left is to replace WINZ with a UBI. People really haven't thought this through and it's dangerous.

                    I still prefer GP policies, but I suspect the main difference is cultural and presentation. GP are one niche, TOP are a different one.

              • weka

                If your various top ups etc are less than UBI, then UBI replaces it (i.e. you receive more with a UBI).

                Someone can't get JS because it's been replaced with a UBI, their top ups are $150/wk, which is less than the UBI, so they get the UBI rate. That's less than the dole + topup (assuming the UBI is around the JS rate).

                This shouldn't be hard for TOP to explain.

          • weka 2.3.1.1.3

            I'm still trying to get clarity. Now they're saying that supplementaries will stay.

            https://twitter.com/wekatweets/status/1623885270511910913

            • Nic the NZer 2.3.1.1.3.1

              I think what Jessica Hammond is explaining (rather badly) is that UBI is the absolute minimum anyone gets and isn't any longer a policy about reforming WINZ.

              But given the amounts proposed Universal Basic Allowance might be a better name for it, because it will be less than sufficient to live on.

              As for the actual minimum income levels WINZ determines for various benefit categories this policy does nothing about those.

              • weka

                rather badly being the operative words. Someone else finally said it plainly: TOP policy used to be to get rid of supplementary benefits, now their policy is to retain them.

                They've said on their website that they intend to increase benefit rates.

                These are actually quite big shifts in their policy, so good on them for taking those things on board and making changes.

              • $$$ adding up comment was in relation to the money coming in (tax) to afford the money going out (UBI).

                In the models I've seen, the aim is to show how the UBI is affordable, at this very basic level.

                Which is fine, until you factor in the additional WINZ payments (which will absolutely be needed – as Weka points out).

                At that point, the required tax take will almost certainly increase substantially.

                And, you will still need WINZ (or some other equivalent) to determine and/or administer the top up needs-based payments.

            • Nic the NZer 2.3.1.1.3.2

              You probably want to be asking this in comparison with somebody who gets UBI + full/part-time wage. Because if everybody gets an "allowance" but this comes out of welfare payments, then welfare recipients are still left relatively worse off. Expectation would be that eventually cost of living adjusts to income levels and some welfare recipients are pushed towards the poverty line.

              Alternatively a fair proposal would be, everybody gets UBI + existing. Where existing includes everything WINZ pays out today.

              • weka

                Yep, I want to see the policy detail and it's odd given their past policy had the detail and now it doesn't.

                The good thing is the abatement on earnings will be done from the UBI portion. But will it affect those on non-JS benefits?

                And people on wages get the UBI on top of their wages, but beneficiaries do or don't?

                Too many questions.

                • My understanding was that a lot of the cost mitigation of UBI was predicated on effectively getting rid of WINZ.

                  However, if beneficiaries still need to 'qualify' for additional support (and based on the UBI figures provided, virtually all would need to do so) – then WINZ will still need to be in existence to evaluate the need and authorize the additional support.

                  So, no cost savings. And retaining a monolithic (and currently deeply antagonistic) bureaucracy.

                  All, in order to give a UBI to people who don't need it.

                  I'm really struggling to see any wins, here.

                  • weka

                    Morgan's original UBI model had this good thing about it, which was that the UBI was paid to everyone but the more income you had the more tax you paid at the top bracket. In effect wealthy people didn't get the UBI because it was clawed back via tax.

                    I can't tell if this is part of TOP's current policy (haven't looked at the cost side).

                    There are a lot of benefits to a UBI. It's tax free income, it doesn't cause benefits to abate, it's paid automatically so no need to have contact with WINZ if one is also working, it gets paid to both people in a couple, if you lose your job you still have a basic income while you sort things out and so on.

                    The problem with a UBI isn't that it has no benefits, it's that no-one has figured out a good way to bolt welfare on. Yet.

                  • weka

                    RedLogix' UBI post that explains the costings in the Morgan model.

                    He's wrong about the welfare side of it though (both RL and Morgan).

                    Look at the first comment, lol. 2011.

                    • Thanks Weka.

                      It seems as though, the $$$ only add up if you eliminate additional welfare payments – which, as you've noted, isn't viable.

                      In order to continue to pay for these, the tax rates would need to be ratcheted up quite a bit. Which makes it a much harder 'sell' on the tax side.

                      And, continuing benefits would require the continuation of WINZ – so not achieving RL's "Eliminates the soul-crushing complexity and costs associated with administering social welfare."

                    • Nic the NZer

                      Belladonna "the $$$ only add up if you eliminate additional welfare payments"

                      lol. Its worth understanding the $$$ always add up. All that is needed for the govt to pay this allowance is the RBNZ to be instructed to make the allowance payments inside the inter-bank accounts settlement system which it operates. Obviously its never unable to make payments here. Its also never unwilling to tell the govt it won't complete payments. The RBNZ has some 'independence' but not that much. Parliament would sack the staff involved if they refused to implement the govt budget. This also applies to every other NZ$ denominated payment in the budget, debt repayments. This makes it a question of the economic impacts of the policy, which are what is considered by the budget process.

                      The budget process involves uncertainty (a lot of it) so a safe approach is usually taken to policy, which is not to alter the govt deficit position. Unless there is an economic crisis, requiring (actually automatically forcing) a deficit on the govt then the typical budget policy approach will be to balance additional spending with additional tax. The expectation is that this doesn't really shift the existing unemployment rate from its budget level.

                    • Nic the NZer

                      So why is UBI a policy then?

                      Well for one thing I think TOP wants to be the party to introduce an allowance for the vast majority of people. A UBI if it can be marketed as fair, could be a way to be the party to get that policy through and presumably get the credit. That's a political calculation.

                      A UBI is also quite related to tax policy, for the reasons I gave in my previous comment. I would assume that's why Gareth Morgan paired up a UBI with his Big Kahuna tax reforms.

                      There is also a belief that unemployment is ultimately a voluntary choice of the unemployed. This belief is (in way more abstract terms) the basis for the typical budgeting decision process used by the country. This idea motivates the idea of cutting welfare payments as a way to push recipients into work. Now due to the visibility and unpopularity of exactly this policy during the 1990s, most people who believe this wouldn't go out and advocate for this as a reform.

                      A UBI which is universal, apart from for people whos main income is welfare based, is still creating an income gap between (UBI + wage) and welfare at least as big as UBI. This is TOPs present position and they would probably like it not to be discussed that they are still proposing relative poverty for welfare recipients. So the UBI is just a way to talk about this without getting some of the fallout of the 1990s reform failures.

                      Now its certainly possible that when Jessica Hammond is discussing these positions on twitter she has no doubt that after the UBI is introduced WINZ will adjust their basic income calculations and effectively all these will be raised by the UBI everyone is getting (so she see's no problem here). Its a difference between the Green parties similar policies that they have to tell their supporters how their proposals deal with these things in advance and for TOP their supporters seem happy that these details are worked out later, and often mostly with those affected. I've voted Green more often than other parties so my belief is that if a UBI was introduced then the relative welfare income gap would immediately be bedded in by WINZ. This WINZ calculation usually needs to be explicitly updated by the legislation. You see this in practice each time there is a $20 benefit increase, that these extra payments its clawed back out of largely unreported.

          • tWiggle 2.3.1.1.4

            Regarding the wealth tax proposal on TOP’s tax policy.

            The fairly ordinary section in a provincial town I live on would attract an additional $4700 pa, or $91 pw, annual wealth tax, on top of the $4,900 in rates I already pay. Would there be a beneficiary rebate on this tax? Does rental property count as commercial property, or would the cost be carried over into rents? Changed tax bands may not offset the wealth tax at all for some.

            And it's not not fair to call it a wealth tax, it's a property tax. If it were applied to other assets and to savings, then it could truly be called a wealth tax.

            • roblogic 2.3.1.1.4.1

              Land taxes are the fairest sort of tax – but the wealthy will never agree. They prefer to tax (already low-paid) workers and charge them rent.

              NZ has crappy labour productivity but high cost of living, because we reward capitalists and punish workers.

              Tax land, not man

              • tWiggle

                What's your argument for land tax being the fairest form of taxation? The issue in NZ is the huge sunk cost in over-inflated land value for recent generations. They have borrowed money made by banks from thin air, paying back the principal and interest in real money made by working for themselves or others.

                Capital gains tax I can understand, but taxing me purely for the privilege of living in my own home is a step too far for me. And if the bank still holds your mortgage, it is the de facto owner. Why not tax the bank instead?

                • roblogic

                  Land owners enjoy free imputed rents. You shouldn't be losing out as the tax burden would be shifted around to target all kinds of assets not just land. And income tax would be greatly reduced (no tax on the first $15k for example)

                  But any MMP government isn’t going to do this radical stuff in a hurry (much as I would like it)

                  • tWiggle

                    Had a look at the tax rebate, and the max income tax reduction for anyone earning under $60K is $2K. If you're a single person, or a widow /widower on a pension, then the property tax is a nett increase in tax against a non-productive asset.

                    A more relevant question, perhaps, is the reversal since the 70s of government tax earnings from a 70-30 split between business and personal tax, to the opposite, more or less.

                    There are still OECD nations that consider businesses, rather than individuals, should bear more of the cost of running the country’s infrastructure, and training and housing the workforce.

                • roblogic

                  Also, most of New Zealand's 'property' wealth is based on stolen land. Land is a taonga and a communal resource, not to be enclosed for private profit.

                  As I said above, it is fair because it takes the burden off workers and makes the most wealthy citizens pay their fair share. It also encourages productive use of the land. Building activity increases. And it controls land price inflation, a huge waste and theft of wealth by the bankers.

                  • tWiggle

                    Most NZ land value has been spun out of the arses of banks, who create money to pay for land exchange. I'd be happy for land nationalisation and life-time leases. Or such prohibitive land-based estate taxes that you cannot pass wealth to your children via property. Much less real money would be sucked up by banks from the NZ economy due to non-productive land speculation.

                    However, there needs to be some transition from our existing system. A switch to any land-based tax generating system would need to be grandparented. Otherwise it's a money grab from people's retirement funds, as sunk into their homes.

                  • weka

                    As I said above, it is fair because it takes the burden off workers and makes the most wealthy citizens pay their fair share

                    Kind of. Wealthy people with land won't care about the tax, those with land and not much income will be hit much harder. The problem here is people consider land an asset rather than a home and somewhere we belong. Taxing land will make that worse and take us further from community land management.

                    I think we want steps in the right direction until climate/eco crises force us back into community mode. I'm not sure a land tax instead of a wealth tax is the way to go. The GP wealth tax, taxes assets over x amount, not from dollar 1.

                • SPC

                  A land tax in addition to rates would in effect be an estate tax.

                  Those who could not afford to pay it (already on super or on a disability benefit and would get nothing from UI) could defer payment, as they do rates, until death.

                  Those who could afford to pay it (the UI would provide the money) would just pay the estate tax (in advance) as they go year by year.

                  Of course the more land owned (yes Luxon and such) the less that would be covered by the UI.

                  Those renting and working get UI extra to help them save to own property.

                  The baby boomers would veto an estate tax, but this, the Greens wealth tax and CGT are the alternatives. Another option is a FTT.

      • pat 2.3.2

        Not as prepared as I expected him to be , however as he noted timing is one of his drivers and I see parallels with the New Zealand Party of Bob Jones in the early eighties which received 12% of the vote and was instrumental in the election of the 4th Labour Gov…..at a similiar inflection point in political economy.

        • Jimmy 2.3.2.1

          I read the other day that when Bob Jones punched the TV reporter Rod Vaughan in the face (after Vaughan pursued him via helicopter as Jones was fishing), the judge fined Bob Jones $1,000.

          What I didn't know was that Jones said to the judge, "If I pay $2,000, can I do it again!"

        • tWiggle 2.3.2.2

          pat, TOP as likely to pinch votes from the left as from the right, me-thinks, so NOT like Bob Jones.

          • pat 2.3.2.2.1

            Jones had a lot of support from working class people if I recall correctly, often as a result of his 'anti politics politician" stance….a protest vote that said a pox on all their houses….something he welcomed and something that I hear expressed often in the current circumstances….and its worth remembering that ‘support’ occurred in a FPP environment where there was little real expectation of representation (although that may be considered what made it a ‘safe’ protest)

      • Sanctuary 2.3.3

        "…UBI is central to TOP's platform, is the tie-breaker for Manji's involvement in a coalition…"

        One should be surprised that someone polling in the margin of error should be so proscriptive as to his coalition bottom lines, but then these sort of latte liberal technocrats are nothing if not wildly over-confident.

        "…Manji calls TOP the party of solutions, with elements from all political directions. That's appealing. He criticises, probably fairly, the pastiche approach to legislative fixes by the government…"

        Ah, the siren call of sensible centrism, the go-to politics of a certain kind of middle class neoliberal winner. The thing about these people is they invariably end up very hostile to democracy, preferring elite (sorry, "common sense solutions") consensus and technocratic government to democratic process (sorry, "the pastiche approach to legislative fixes").

        Seriously, TOP are technocratic fringe merchants from the great era of anti-politics of 10-20 years ago who fail at politics 101 – namely, not understanding that claiming to have no politics is a political postion just like any other. Politics is important. Without politics you end up with idiots like Wayne Brown (to be fair, he isn't to blame for the failure of local government democracy and nor is he to blame for spotting the failure and exploiting it – but he is the result of not enough politics landing you with a seductive "Mr Fixit" who can't get on an email DL).

        • tWiggle 2.3.3.1

          Sanctuary, you start an interesting line of thought critiquing 'common-sense' anti-politics camps against real-politik, if that's that the right label to describe the workings of legislative democracy.

          What's your world experience that's led you to that conclusion? Is it that difficult to cut through bullshit? It must have happened in our past, e.g. with the dramatic assembly of the Welfate State in NZ. So radically reshaping our society through legislation of commonsense principles is possible. And quantum leaps can occur in smaller areas, like the establishment of the Treaty settlement process.

          What's the distinction between commonsense simplistic solutions and robust legislative change for you?

    • Drowsy M. Kram 2.4

      Toplitical topential is in the eye of the beholder. Polls are interesting. Admire your toptimism – hung in there.

      National ahead of Labour in latest poll, but Labour could form government [9 February 2023]
      NZ First was still below the 5 per cent threshold on 3.4 per cent, Te Pāti Māori was next on 3 per cent and TOP was on 2.3 per cent.

      [In] The December poll… Te Pāti Māori polled 3.5 per cent, NZ First polled 4.3 per cent and TOP 2.4 per cent.

      So, in Talbot Mills’ January poll, the number of people who would party vote TOP decreased (by one) – an ominous trend?

      1 NEWS Kantar Public Poll 25 – 29 January 2022
      The Opportunities Party: 1.6% – 1.3% – 1.7% – 1.9% – 1.3% – 1.7% – 1.1%

      New Zealand: Labour support increased in January even before Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation [6 February 2023]
      A further 3% of electors support other minor parties outside Parliament, down 1% point from a month ago including 1.5% (down 1% point) who support The Opportunities Party and 0.5% (down 0.5% point) who support the New Conservative Party.

      Newshub-Reid Research Poll: Chris Hipkins is Labour's saviour but hung Parliament on cards for election 2023 [30 January 2023]
      New Zealand First is at the top of this pack but has dropped back 1.1 points to 2.2 percent. Te Pāti Māori is holding reasonably steady at 1.8 percent, down 0.1. The Opportunities Party is up 0.3 to 1.5 percent.

    • Corey 2.5

      I wish Top the best of luck, not because I wanna vote for them but because if they get an electorate they could bring in 1-3 list mps and in a tight election be king maker and go with Labour/Green or Nat/Act.

      A Nat/Act govt frightens me, a Nat govt supported by Top or indeed NZF would make ACTs influence far less powerful and would just infuriate me rather than terrify me and hopefully Act would get the coalition curse and go back to being irrelevancy.

      Labour and Top and the Greens could get on pretty well, I don't see top as a handbrake (I never saw NZF as one either) as Labour/Greens in govt have been bog standard third way centerists economically who are their own handbrakes so a lab/top/green coalition wouldn't be any more centrist than the last 5 years

  3. Incognito 3

    So, 24,634 voted for Desley Simpson as the Councillor of the Ōrākei Ward and 181,810 voted for Desley Simpson as the de facto Mayor of Auckland.

    https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/elections/elections-2022-results/Pages/default.aspx

    https://www.newsroom.co.nz/new-auckland/desley-the-deputy-steps-into-the-breach

    Good to know.

    Wasn’t Viv Beck the anointed C&R nominee who pulled out when it was already too late?

    • lprent 3.1

      Wasn’t Viv Beck the anointed C&R nominee who pulled out when it was already too late?

      Yes. Also didn't she leave debts trailing behind her campaign.

      What is she doing now?

      • Incognito 3.1.1

        Heart of the City chief executive.

        • adam 3.1.1.1

          Does Heart of the City receive any rate payer money? I know it's a business association, but where is the funding coming from, apart from the businesses involved? Any central govt funding?

          So basically I'm asking, are you, or is anyone you know, any good a forensic accounting?

          • Incognito 3.1.1.1.1

            I don’t know, but I’m confident that you will find the answer you’re looking for here:

            https://www.hotcity.co.nz/annual-reports

            I doubt that they receive Taxpayers’ money but then again, even the Onion did not turn it down when it was shoved down their throats offered to them at the beginning of the pandemic.

            • adam 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Thanks for that.

              It would seem the majority of money comes from council (around $5 million give or take) and a small part from central government. $50,000 from MSD starting in 2021.

              As far as funding goes, it looks like a council entity. Has it obtained a new political purposes under C&R?

    • woodart 3.2

      seems very suspicious. nats appointed candidate suddenly flags the election. hmmm, wonder if there was a cup of tea involved?wonder if the nacts are now regreting becks sudden withdrawal.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    This is just the most gruesome read. Elon Musk seems to run Twitter by coke fuelled diktat.

  5. Molly 5

    Speaking to an Auckland school librarian on the weekend. She mentioned how one of her daughter's classmates had returned to school this year after receiving puberty blockers over the holidays.

    "Completely reversible" enthused his mother, obviously unaware that the Ministry of Health was no longer making that claim.

    In fact, three days ago any reference to puberty blockers was removed completely from the Ministry's site.

    https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/preventative-health-wellness/providing-health-services-transgender-people#general

    Instead they refer to third party recipients of government funding to mislead health professionals and the public:

    Given the lack of clinical evidence for this off-label use for minors, you would think our centralised state health system would be ideally positioned to track and monitor diagnosis , treatment and outcomes.

    Well, perhaps it would – if anyone cared – apparently no-one does:

    6. Why does Pharmac fund GnRH analogues (goserelin implants, or leuprorelin injections for children and adolescents who are unable to tolerate administration of goserelin) for this indication, despite it not being approved by Medsafe?

    On 12 August 2021, this part of your request was transferred to Pharmac as the information requested was more closely aligned with the functions of that organisation. You will have received a response from Pharmac directly regarding this part of your request.

    7. Is the Ministry of Health planning to review the use of puberty blocking hormones?

    No. As noted above, the use of any medication or treatment is a matter for discussion between a treating clinician and their patient, ensuring that patients are fully informed of their options (including any benefits, risks and alternatives) to make an informed choice and give informed consent. It is the responsibility of the treating clinician to consider the appropriateness of a particular treatment for a particular patient, and to ensure that the patient is informed of the risks and benefits associated with that treatment. Informed consent should be obtained by the clinician from the patient before the choice is made to prescribe the medicine

    OIA Response: https://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/information-release/h202117825_response.pdf

    A quick revisit to a doctor from a leading gender clinic in Christchurch – Dame Sue Bagshaw:

    "If you're going to say 'let's not use them' [puberty blockers], we're going to have redouble our efforts to ensure the mental health of transgender diverse young people is looked after," Bagshaw said.

    "And at the moment, it's not."

    Offering psycho-social support as first-line treatment for gender dysphoria in young people was challenging, she said.

    "It's actually quite difficult to help them to understand that they're being listened to without doing something, and that's the nature of brain development and it's also the nature of short appointment times."

    Psychological interventions were also expensive, she said.

    Dame Sue was not surprised or concerned that New Zealand's prescribing rates were higher than other countries.

    "We're a small country, word travels faster by word of mouth.

    "Obviously in the last 10 years it's gone up because we've now got societal permission to do that."

    Note: Societal permission NOT clinical evidence.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/475757/puberty-blocker-use-jumps-as-expert-backs-results

    If you are asking yourself whether any of these medical professionals regain sanity and care for the long-term outcomes for children, the answer is – sporadically. One such US practitioner is Jamie Reed.

    I Thought I Was Saving Trans Kids. Now I’m Blowing the Whistle

    "…There was a team of about eight of us, and only one other person brought up the kinds of questions I had. Anyone who raised doubts ran the risk of being called a transphobe.

    The girls who came to us had many comorbidities: depression, anxiety, ADHD, eating disorders, obesity. Many were diagnosed with autism, or had autism-like symptoms. A report last year on a British pediatric transgender center found that about one-third of the patients referred there were on the autism spectrum.

    Frequently, our patients declared they had disorders that no one believed they had. We had patients who said they had Tourette syndrome (but they didn’t); that they had tic disorders (but they didn’t); that they had multiple personalities (but they didn’t).

    The doctors privately recognized these false self-diagnoses as a manifestation of social contagion. They even acknowledged that suicide has an element of social contagion. But when I said the clusters of girls streaming into our service looked as if their gender issues might be a manifestation of social contagion, the doctors said gender identity reflected something innate…"

    Despite the large number of well-funded organisations providing the guidelines of care while allowing the MoH to avoid direct culpability, I hope the day will soon arrive when we have local medical staff regaining their sanity and openly demanding robust evidence for this "affirming" treatment given to minors.

    • Incognito 5.1

      In fact, three days ago any reference to puberty blockers was removed completely from the Ministry's site.

      It seems to be on their website!?

      https://www.tewhatuora.govt.nz/keeping-well/transgender-new-zealanders [Last updated: 29 January 2023]

      How’s the classmate doing, if you don’t mind me asking?

      • Molly 5.1.1

        The Ministry of Health link I provided did have reference to puberty blockers on the site I linked to which has now been removed. (See site update 7 Feb 2023).

        As you show, on the http://www.tewhatuora.govt.nz site it remains. Perhaps they haven't got the memo yet. But still appalling.

        "How’s the classmate doing, if you don’t mind me asking?"

        Why? The most relevant time to ask will be when the long-term effects have been experienced don't you think?

        How do you ask a child about their adult sexual function, when they haven't reached sexual maturity?

        How do you ask a child about the impact on neurological development when they are an adult when they have taken medication to interrupt a significant development period during puberty?

        How do you ask a child about the impact on their adult fertility when they are a child themselves?

        Incognito, the total disregard for child protection and safeguarding to look after a child's present day feels is one I will remember for years to come.

        (Luckily for you there are plenty of studies regarding the impact of these medications on-label for adults. One being breast cancer patients. Look up a few and see how many breast cancer patients stop taking this medication due the side-effects – even knowing the benefit it has in reducing the likelihood of cancer growth.

        I would also direct you to look at recent data releases and studies on minors (not looking good BTW), but I doubt you can actually be bothered getting informed given past exchanges.)

        • Incognito 5.1.1.2

          Sorry I asked. It seemed the most relevant and pertinent question and the here & now is where we are; anything else is speculative. I’m not interested in the mother’s alleged ‘enthusing’ nor in your criticism of the available studies and data nor in the alleged disregard for children (which is ironic, given I queried about this child) nor in your narrative.

          BTW, I couldn’t find any good stats on how many breast cancer patients are treated with puberty blockers and how many stop treatment because of side effects of those blockers and what those side effects were.

          Never mind, I won’t ask you again because you have closed your mind to engaging with pre-selected others in good faith. However, you always make a point of long-ish replies reiterating your own narrative and adding a few other side lines in it, but not actually addressing the point made by another, which reminds me of another commenter who used to do the same thing over and over again.

          Anyway, have a nice day.

          • Molly 5.1.1.2.1

            Pertinent question? Not really.

            It's a familiar redirection away from the issue. And it was answered, you just didn't like the answer because you don't really want to think about this at all, just affirm.

            The rhetoric has been successful with you.

            Your failure to research is not my problem. I'm guessing you looked up puberty blockers and not the various drug names.

            Anyway, as mentioned there are a number of studies being released on minors coming out. See if you can do better. I posted one earlier because I had a suspicion that people might need help with having to address their appalling complacency.

            You are not making any points. You are attempting redirection to irrelevancies.

            Don't know who the reference is to, but once again – an irrelevancy.

            "…have a nice day".

            Did you never consider to refrain from saying things you don't mean? Every occurrence makes the rest of your contributions questionable.

            For the non performative nonchalant, a link to affadavit from original comment:

            https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0717/7420/8276/files/Jamie_Reed_s_Letter_to_the_AG.pdf?v=1675961919

    • roblogic 5.2

      That Jamie Reed article [your link was bad btw] demonstrates yet again, what critics of the Gender movement have been saying for ages.

      There is a certain glamour and fascination with transgenderism that people buy into enthusiastically. Much of it promoted by the MSM as something edgy and cool and different.

      This enthusiasm, alongside a surfeit of empathy (which has a dark side) bypasses their critical faculties and they end up with bad law, forgetting about safeguarding, and ignoring parents and medical professionals who are trying to blow the whistle.

    • weka 5.3

      In fact, three days ago any reference to puberty blockers was removed completely from the Ministry's site.

      Need a copy of the original (and date). I looked in the Wayback Machine, and the earliest version of your link is June 2022 and it also doesn't contain the word blockers.

      https://web.archive.org/web/20220609010444/https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/preventative-health-wellness/providing-health-services-transgender-people

      • Molly 5.3.1

        Had a cursory look, and can't find any screenshots, so I was relying on my admittedly fallible memory. So FWIW can only confirm that a recent update has occurred, as can be seen by the date on the webpages.

        If I do find any screenshots to validate my faulty memory, I'll post. Otherwise, ignore that sentence (which is not a pertinent point) and critique the rest.

        • weka 5.3.1.1

          I'm wondering if they replaced the page (and URL) entirely last year. There will be pre-2022 URLs on TS somewhere, from the previous round where their position was being looked at. I'll see if I can find it.

          It's also possible that the TWO website is the one being update to be the formal version and the MoH one is grandparented. They really should sort that out.

        • Molly 5.3.1.2

          Can only find reference to the initial change from "fully reversible" by doing an image search and coming up with this Family First article which shows what I remember as the initial change on the Ministry of Health main website. The replacement was on the same site.

          By clicking on the link I have on previous comments on the same, AND a FOI reference to the same webpage, it seems that the URL has been redirected to the tewhatuora section of the MoH webpages. So it could just be it was removed from the main pages because the tewhatuora pages were finalised.

          So that might account for the inability to pick up the old versions or not. Someone with more internet nous might be able to determine if that is the case.

  6. woodart 6

    I dont waste money on granny herald, but I see there is a paywalled article by hooten re luxon. are the wheels falling off? willis doesnt seem intelligent enough to take the reins. oh dear!!

    • roblogic 6.1

      A good read. Matthew Hooton: We need to talk about Christopher Luxon – NZ Herald

      Hoots reckons that National is too complacent and underestimates Labour. I wonder if he has a personal vendetta against Luxon?

      Some tasty morsels:

      Luxon’s unpopularity and poor communications skills mean it wouldn’t take much for Labour to convince crucial median voters that the National leader plans to slash taxes for the rich, pay for it by ending entitlement programmes and outlaw abortion.

      Especially in its conservative and sometimes smug environment, the National hierarchy would have dismissed as delusional any party strategist who suggested before Christmas that it ought to plan for Ardern throwing in the towel, Hipkins rather than Robertson replacing her, followed by the public burning of Ardern’s hate-speech legislation, her “nuclear-free moment” biofuels mandate, Robertson’s beloved income insurance scheme and Willie Jackson’s media merger.

      Even if a hollow 2008 or 2017-style campaign could work in 2023, Luxon is no Key or Ardern.

      Those two cloud-hoppers could promise a “brighter future” or even just “this” and voters would believe them. For a Luxon, like an early Clark or Bolger, substance is going to matter. He has said or done nothing so far to give voters confidence he has any.

      Hooton also dropped this word: "quinquevirate", that's a new one.

      • observer 6.1.1

        The Nat caucus are like generals fighting the last war.

        They know that leadership changes hurt them badly in 2020. Therefore they do not want to make the same mistake in 2023.

        So they are making a worse one.

        • woodart 6.1.1.1

          does hooten have a problem with luxon? well ,luxon replaced the person who took over from the guy who stood in, after hoots boy went on gardening leave, so probably…. how to get the bottom feeders to trust luxon?? maybe a carefully unstaged rescue of a kitten up a tree? a bleeding luxon, with actual dirt on his real workmans boots,and tastefully ripped brandname jeans, falling out of a tree, carefully protecting a bedraggled kitten. crikey,cant get more trustworthy than that. AND he used to run an airline!shit, he's one of us(disclaimer,no,he's not).

    • Incognito 6.2

      I think Hooton is intimidated by Willis, with good reason.

    • Nic the NZer 6.3

      Auckland might want a word with Hooton about Wayne Brown first. What is the going rate for Matthew Hooton to have a positive opinion about a politician anyway?

      • roblogic 6.3.1

        Whatever it is, Luxon isn’t buying. That’s one positive to him. Avoiding the dirty politics crew trying to corrupt our system. And he’s not really engaging with the VFF-Counterspin fringe either, they are all political kryptonite

        • Nic the NZer 6.3.1.1

          You've read a slightly different narrative to me on VFF. I only heard his impromptu meeting with VFF he wasn't able to get the audience onboard, and probably didn't have the talking points to do so. But he did seem to be trying to apply National's talking points to the antivax questions. So, audience: how about ending vaccine mandates for medical staff? Luxon: Well National would like to roll back centralised health reforms, does that answer the question?

  7. ianmac 7

    Luxon's consistent approach is to not produce or explain any policy.

    But wait. When we the voters wait with bated breath for the coming announcements, those policies when they are announced will get huge notice taken. Headlines! They are not stupid are they?

    • Incognito 7.1

      Luxon’s dilemma is that Hipkins and Labour are (re)moving targets from Luxon’s view, which makes him look even more shambolic when his MO is repeal, repeal, repeal. He will look even more like Don Quichotte tilting at windmills.

      Luxon doesn’t have to worry about policies other than producing and remembering 5 bullet points and an automated referral to the ACT Policies webpage.

      • Robert Guyton 7.1.1

        Don (Quixote) was a Good Guy! Don't use his name in vain 🙂

        • Stuart Munro 7.1.1.1

          He wouldn't have got far without Rocinante – and the Gnats don't have one.

          • tWiggle 7.1.1.1.1

            Wikipedia describes Rocinante as 'like Quixote, awkward, past his prime, and engaged in a task beyond his capabilities'. Perhaps the Gnats do have one.

            • Stuart Munro 7.1.1.1.1.1

              Rocinante was a work horse.

              • Incognito

                Luxon & National are a Trojan horse pretending to be in charge and on the horse. The tail is wagging the dog and we think it is funny but we won’t be laughing after 14 Oct if NACT form the next Government and the many (of us) will get smacked around till hit hurts & bleeds.

                • Stuart Munro

                  If ACT achieve significant policy input then Decembrists like the Occupy crowd will grow by an order of magnitude. We'll have an even more unequal society, and it will be armed. Too Cormac McCarthy for my liking – I want The Postman.

      • tWiggle 7.1.2

        It's taken Luxon a month or two, but he's finally got a more-or-less joined up message about Te Tiriti. Each time in front of the cameras, there's evidence that his minders have force-fed a bit more history down his gob. The gob part references a fledgling metaphor, by the way, rather than broad kiwiana abuse.

  8. newsense 8

    Geez- I agree with Josie Pagani 100%. One of us must be a stopped clock!

    But it’s no secret our country has run on a lot of people being paid less than minimum wage. If your wage is crap and just covering rent, you can/could get a good cheap meal at xyz restaurant or cheap veges at that small supermarket. And like bus drivers forced into crap wages by the mechanism of the contracting system, here often exploitation of immigrants or international students who were in employment situations not covered by NZ law was the case. This is a low wage economy.

    It means a reset on the value of some luxury meals and the places you went to to stretch your grocery bill, but asked no questions need questions asked. If everyone is getting a living wage, then it has to be everyone. And that means accepting some re-evaluation of the cost of some things.

    This mindset goes back to the 90s and will be hard to change, but adjusting to new realities is going to be a popular thing for people to do in the near future, and this surely won’t be the worst of them.

    But yeh simply what Pagani is saying is that class war has been raised so successfully on the lower classes that it’s science that the weakest must accept a decreasing share to combat inflation and economic growth not making them better off. That’s the result of the economic orthodoxy of both main parties which has changed little in 30 years. If Labour can sell the majority of people being better off through a slight reverse of the huge wealth transfer of the property market and elsewhere, good on them. I did think core values were a property owning democracy, but perhaps that rabbit is further off.

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