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Open mike 25/01/2020

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, January 25th, 2020 - 132 comments
Categories: open mike - Tags:

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 …

132 comments on “Open mike 25/01/2020 ”

  1. Sacha 1

    Straightforward and detailed read of where NZ political parties are at in election year (and broader than the headline): https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/119033188/what-will-the-nats-do-about-winston

    Each election campaign has its own theory. Its own account of who New Zealanders are and what they want and what issues they will prioritise. Parties then come up with policies accordingly.

    Labour now has at least one theory: that New Zealanders are a positive bunch and that running an overly negative campaign carries real risks, particularly for National, which, as the Opposition, is trying to find things wrong with the Government and the country.

    The fact remains that, at the moment, the only credible path into government for National involves NZ First being knocked out.

    While it would be foolish to rule anything out with NZ First, it seems highly unlikely that, if given the option, it won't simply continue in a government that looks similar, even if the proportions are slightly changed.

    • Anne 1.1

      New Zealanders are a positive bunch and that running an overly negative campaign carries real risks, particularly for National, which, as the Opposition, is trying to find things wrong with the Government and the country.

      It would be nice to think so, but don't wholly agree it is true. Yes, there is plenty of positivity in NZ but there is a lot of negativity too and sometimes the latter wins.

      Take the 2008 election. The campaign waged by National was negative without precedence in this country and it worked a treat. Yes, they had a new charismatic leader who also pulled in votes but it was the negativity that won the day for them.

      By all means run a positive campaign. It is what we would expect of them. But when the fake news, the lies and the misinformation starts flying (and it already has but can only increase in frequency) be ready to return the fire because if Labour doesn't, they risk a repeat performance of 2008.

      • Sacha 1.1.1

        Take the 2008 election. The campaign waged by National was negative without precedence in this country

        'A Brighter Future'

        • Sabine

          for them and their enablers.

          the rest are darn near hopeless, bludgers and lazy people whom the no mates party has no use for.

          Also, we have become tenants.

      • Sacha 1.1.2

        be ready to return the fire

        Nope. We have had this discussion repeatedly in recent weeks.

        • Anne

          I don't mean stooping to National's level. Far from it. But I do remember Helen Clark and Labour ignoring the lies, falsehoods emanating from National. I think they assumed the voters would see it for what it was…. misinformation. Many of them didn't. It was Crosby/Textor stuff – cleverly presented and needed to be swiftly rebuffed. It wasn't.

          We can expect to see an updated version – with a degree of Trumpism thrown in.

          Edit: and they need to be supported by the Greens when it is appropriate. There will be a concerted effort to discredit them as well.

          • Sacha

            needed to be swiftly rebuffed

            Again, nope. Plan and deliver your own messages rather than reacting to and amplifying the reach of theirs.

      • Rosemary McDonald 1.1.3

        There is no need for 'enemas' of Labour to generate fake news or promulgate misinformation or tell lies.

        Allowing a bureaucrat with a decade long history of mismanaging MOH:DSS a front and centre position in the midst of major reform (as a result of long running Human Rights cases) is messaging of the most honest in nature.

        This is Labour and its partners in crime giving a loud and emphatic Fuck You to those of us in the disability community who have fought long and hard for justice and a modicum of parity with our entitled ACC cousins.

        Ditto allowing Pharmac unfettered authority to ignore international protocols and put the lives of Kiwis at risk.

        Ditto largely ignoring the strong advice of the WEAG and CPAG to remove sanctions and significantly raise benefits.

        Oh yes…Labour doesn't need its enemies to lose votes in the upcoming election…those of us who were hoping that there was the collective will in the Coalition for real transformation and hard reform of what is falsely called 'the Publc Service ' have only ourselves to blame for almost buying into their shit.

        Labour just might capture the vote of the Muddles, the Woman's Weekly readership beguiled by cutesy family outing shots, and they may even seduce a few wavering National voters (unless That Mob comes up with more palatable spokespeople) but bet my bottom dollar they have well and truly shat in the pond of traditional Labour supporters.

        • Sacha

          Vote Greens, I guess. Stronger hand in next govt will depend on Winston being weaker in relation to them.

          • Incognito

            The bureaucrats will be mostly the same regardless of who’s in Government.

            • Rosemary McDonald

              This is true.

              But it is not right.

              The buggers should be purged…unless they have performed outstandingly and according to the expectations of the Gummint.

              Actually, that's very possibly the case with my mate Toni Atkinson.

              Bring on the EOLC Bill!!!

              • Incognito

                Problem is that many bureaucrats do get ‘recycled’ and NZ just happens to be a tiny little fish bowl, which aggravates the problem with the small ‘talent pool’. In many ways, NZ still is a colonial outpost.

                We’ll have to get through the euthanasia debate first.

                It’ll be a busy year for the Moderators here 😉

                Just one word of friendly advice, be careful what you say about specific persons, here or elsewhere in public.

                • Rosemary McDonald

                  Always happy to receive advice ,friendly or otherwise.

                  "My mate" has been more than happy to put her name and face out there trumpeting the Good Works of MOH:DSS for the past decade in their Newsletter.


                  I even have a letter signed by her in 2012 declaring that they were working on a 'non-discriminatory family carer policy'….you will no doubt remember the reaction from those who actually give a shit about NZBORA and sound legislative practise in 2013?

                  I have no fear of being accused of defamation…I don't lie…the truth is damning enough.

                  The only other risk is being punished by having MOH:DSS supports cut.

                  Already happened in 2012…we get nothing from them so have nothing to lose.

                  • Incognito

                    All good then 🙂

                    As a general point of information, i.e. not specifically addressed to you, if somebody defames another person on this site, it is the site or Trust(ees) rather that is liable.

                    Sorry, I cannot remember; my memory leaks like a sieve on a landfill.

                  • Sacha

                    Whoever is in that ‘boss of Disability Support Services’ role also has at least Legal and their Director-General to convince before something becomes policy. Likewise the DG is susceptible to whatever signals are coming from the Minister's office – which is why whoever is in there is critical, unfortunately.

                    However it is easy for it to become personalised when, as you note, you see the same person fronting decisions with direct and unescapable personal impacts over a long period of time.

              • McFlock

                All well and good in principle, but then we end up with an American-style bureaucracy where every change in government results in thousands of political appointees of varying professional competence and knowledge.

                At the end of the day, you're criticising the bureaucracy for political decisions made because ministers don't have the guts to just take the budgetary impact of doing the right thing.

                • Kay


                  "At the end of the day, you're criticising the bureaucracy for political decisions made because ministers don't have the guts to just take the budgetary impact of doing the right thing."

                  In Pharmac's case they have well and truly brought all criticism upon themselves, and continue to do so persisting in attempting to defend their now indefendable actions.

                  • McFlock

                    The actions that seem to have resulted in no change in the rate of death while freeing up funds to help other patients?

                    • Rosemary McDonald

                      Seriously, McFlock?

                      I was under the impression you were capable of examining all the available material on an issue and forming your own opinion.

                      A tad sad that despite evidence available from a variety of sources you seem committed to the narrative that Pharmac's decisions are all justified under For The Good Of All rule and any criticism can be traced back to Big Pharma lobbying.


                    • McFlock

                      The key piece of data in whether an action is killing people via a specific cause is whether the death rate from that cause actually increased while or after the action was taken.

                    • Incognito []

                      That’s the only way of looking at it. Each case has to be first investigated individually and then as a (population) statistic. One cannot ignore the deaths as ‘within the normal range of statistical probabilities’ or whatever because that doesn’t explain anything.

                    • McFlock

                      SUDEP by its nature tells us nothing, like most "SU" deaths.

                      A person who was alive is now dead, with no obvious cause and only a condition or time of life as a common factor with other unexplained deaths.

                      At least a change in the rate of unexplained deaths would indicate that something has changed.

                    • Incognito []

                      True, but given that the numbers are small and ‘soft’ I believe this will not lead to conclusions. https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-15-11-2019/#comment-1666718

                    • McFlock

                      The most probable conclusion is that one can't prove a negative.

                      There's always the possibility that in ten or twenty years some level-5 bureaucrat will run the numbers and discover that this decision, statistically speaking, was associated with the deaths of three people more than would have been expected.

                      But that's the peril of every healthcare funding decision. You take funding away from some area, even if it looks like it will have no negative impact on the population, maybe you're wrong. And maybe the area you divert that funding to will not save more lives than covered by your miscalculated downside.

                      But you will never be able to convince someone that your decision had nothing to do with their loved one's death, even if there's zero actual evidence you had anything to do with it at all.

                    • Incognito []

                      Understandably, people are upset and angry and they want to know what happened. They may also want some kind of justice if a preventable mistake was made and someone was found culpable.

                      I fear these people will be disappointed, disillusioned, and remain angry for quite some time because it is highly unlikely that the investigation into the brand switch will find that kind of information and identify culpability in a legal sense.

                      As you know, SUDEP is poorly understood and will remain so for the foreseeable future IMO.

                      This is not to say that it will be a whitewash. Hopefully, some lessons will be learned from this and avoided in future. Again, I believe they will in lowering the risk threshold and a stricter adherence to the first precautionary principle of healthcare: first, do no harm. In other words, if it ain’t broken, don’t try to fix it.

                    • McFlock

                      If money in the health system is being spent inefficiently, harm is already being done.

                  • Incognito

                    There was another article on the brand switch on Stuff today: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/118814341/bipolar-disorder-patients-suffer-terrible-side-effects-after-pharmac-drug-brand-switch

                    "For the lamotrigine brand change we identified the need for additional support for consumers and health professionals. A five-month transition period was put in place to allow people time to change brands."

                    The spokesperson said a "range of resources" for patients and pharmacists were circulated widely and information was put on the Pharmac website.

                    Pharmac said patients should not stop using lamotrigine, and if they had concerns they should contact their healthcare professional. [my italics]

                    Patients are no ordinary consumers.

                    I know that a few people shove all blame onto PHARMAC because they went against international best evidence and Medsafe’s advice, which is within their rights.

                    However, PHARMAC is a funding agency and there are (at least) three other parties directly involved in a patient’s prescriptions: the healthcare professional (usually the GP), the pharmacy, and the patient him or herself.

                    It seems to me that at least one issue is the uncertainty about who takes responsibility for what, i.e. it might have fallen in between the cracks.

                    It could be a while before we find out if the brand switch has contributed to any of the five reported deaths and other reported adverse events.

                    • Rosemary McDonald

                      " It could be a while before we find out…."

                      By which time most of the unaffected Muddles will have forgotten what the fuss was all about.

                      Convenient, and just what they are relying on.


                    • Sacha

                      Patients are no ordinary consumers.

                      In NZ health jargon they are pretty interchangeable. Hence the Health & Disability Commission having a Code Of Consumers Rights. Part of a broader attempt at the time to redefine people's relationship with health practitioners and services in the process of being neoliberalised, but not properly addressed since. Influences from the US.

                    • Incognito []

                      Yes, it is unfortunate that the lines between these two concepts are blurred because there really is a fundamental difference between patients and consumers.

                      You mention the US and together with NZ, these are the only two countries that allow direct-to-consumer-advertising of prescription drugs (DTCA).

                      Personally, I don’t believe this is in the best interests of patients.

                • alwyn

                  “American-style bureaucracy where every change in government results in thousands of political appointees”

                  There aren't actually that many of them, when you compare the number to either the total number of employees of the US Government or the population of the US.

                  There are approximately 4,000 political appointments in the Executive Branch, at least according to Wiki. That covers just about all of the Government except the Post Office and the Military.


                  The population of the US is about 70 times that of New Zealand. If we had the same sort of ratio that would mean around 55-60 political appointees here. I don't know but I would be willing to wager that there are far more than that in the Minister's Offices in the Beehive who serve at the Minister's discretion rather than being seconded by a Department.

                  After all, that is only a couple of people per Minister.

                  • McFlock

                    Except that they're mostly higher-level roles, so to argue a relative proportion it's the number of different functions and services rather than the number of employees. Even if population difference corresponded to difference in size of bureaucracy.

                    An, of course, there's the entire distinction between ministers and departments, which they don't seem to have in the US: their cabinet members have direct operational control over their departments, rather than a governance role.

                • weka

                  Set new objectives and ask senior staff to leave if they cannot meet them? Not sure what kind of employment agreements they have.

                  • McFlock

                    Basically, that's the routine.

                    Minister comes up with a goal, the department come up with the plan (including costs), minister signs off on it as a decision, department implements the plan.

                    Sometimes ministers want a plan, but it costs too much so they kick it back to the department to find savings (or the department doesn't understand that cost is less of a factor so automatically slips in ways of saving cash, like refusing to recognise previous experience of family carers).

                    • weka

                      that doesn't quite explain how someone could be fired or moved on though.

                      I think it does explain that much of what we see in welfare and health is on Labour (and NZF) rather the public servants (although I'm sure there are plenty of ways to undermine a new Minister's plan).

                    • Sacha

                      Someone would need to be actually held accountable for their previous decisions and actions while a public servant, which will never happen. It would also make them even more risk-averse.

                    • McFlock

                      As long as they competently do the job they are instructed to do, why would you fire them?

                      If they don't do their job properly, that's internal through the department or SSC.

                      If their job requires them to commit crimes, they and their superiors should be arrested.

                      If the incoming minister doesn't like the job the previous minister ordered the department to do, that's not the fault of the department.

                      That having been said, there is some fudging at senior levels where part of the role might be to have a good working relationship with the minister, but the responsibility for what jobs ministers are instructed to do rests with the minister. And ministers are constrained by Cabinet priorities, as well.

                    • Sacha

                      What if their job asks them to be an arsehole and they turn out to be a little too good at it and keen for more?

                    • McFlock

                      Yes Minister gives a nice summary of both sides of the discussion.

                      Arseholes who want to be arseholes when they are instructed to be fair and reasonable fail to competently perform their duties. The intractable arseholes fail to change and go through standard performance management. A purge would just flood the department with inexperienced staff who have poor job security because there will be another purge in three years.

                      It's bad enough already with restructurings to align with ministerial wishes and areas of responsibility. Basic stuff like differentiating researcher data requests from OIA requests, or knowing who is responsible for what subject area at the moment all fall through a myriad of little cracks because there's FA institutional memory or knowledge. Whacking a purge on top of that is just piling dysfunction upon dysfunction.

                  • Rosemary McDonald

                    For a number of years now I have been reading the post election Briefings to the Incomming Ministers.


                    Quite plain that these documents are pitched at the level of the 'in control but mostly ignorant…let's baffle them with bullshit.'

                    Helps to read a few Yes Minister scripts for some grounding.

      • OnceWasTim 1.1.4

        "It would be nice to think so, but don't wholly agree it is true. Yes, there is plenty of positivity in NZ but there is a lot of negativity too and sometimes the latter wins."

        I tend to agree with you (Mathew) to SOME (and a growing) extent.

        The 4 P's play an increasingly role too – from a sliding scale between apathy and desperation through to hope, and "positivity"

        Pot, 'P', Piss and Prozac.

        For the first time in my life, I'm about to change my vote from Labour to Green.

        And it's not because the Adhern government isn't the best of a load of bad alternatives. It's because time is actually running out before populism become entrenched.

        When I heard JA say (in a Henry Cooke interview), she didn't realise how long things take, AND THEN praised our public service (admitedly I assumed she was referring to the senior ranks), I thought – naivety maybe?

        I'm not sure some in Labour have yet developed adequate bullshit detectors even if some will only ever have to face a used-car salesman (in this space going forward)

        • Anne

          When I heard JA say (in a Henry Cooke interview), she didn't realise how long things take, AND THEN praised our public service (admitedly I assumed she was referring to the senior ranks), I thought – naivety maybe?

          Yes, I think there is a bit of naivety and not just on JA's part. To my knowledge, she was never a P.S. employee – not in NZ anyway – and there are politicians on all sides who fall into that category.

          As you know OWT, the P.S. was very much a dog eat dog place but whether that is still the case I don't know. In my day, "seniority" usually depended on how far up 'you know where' a person was prepared to go. Individuality was frowned upon, and anyone who dared to stick their neck above the parapet had it chopped off and thrown into the moat.

          A period of P.S. employment should be a requirement for all senior politicians. 😉

          • OnceWasTim

            Yep, well – Just can't do it anymore. I'm afraid JA may well have signed up to superficiality over substance.

            Second time this week concerning an immigration issue ( and that's only 2 that've been made public after just watching 1 news ).

            The good thing is that it won't just be me that does the big switch – there are now 3 generations of family that are in agreement.

            Apparently, I seem to have misjudged Iain Lees-Galloway too. Nice bloke though he may be, he's obviously not as bright as I thought he was – or maybe its more to do with expediency over principle. Either way, cudda shudda wudda.

  2. Jenny How to get there 2

    The right to protest defines democracy, but for some protesting is terrorism.

    If defending life on Earth is extremist, we must own that label

    George Monbiot

    22 Jan 2020

    ….All over the world, corporate lobbyists seek to brand opponents of their industries as extremists and terrorists, and some governments and police forces are prepared to listen. A recent article in the Intercept seeks to discover why the US Justice Department and the FBI had put much more effort into chasing mythical “ecoterrorists” than pursuing real, far-right terrorism. A former official explained, “You don’t have a bunch of companies coming forward saying ‘I wish you’d do something about these rightwing extremists’.” By contrast, there is constant corporate pressure to “do something” about environmental campaigners and animal rights activists…..

    • Jenny How to get there 2.1

      While I agree with Monbiot's main point. Personally I think that his notion that we should own the label of ‘extremist’ is wrong.

      James Hanson, Naomi Klein and in particular Bill McKibben, are of the opinion that the polluters that we are protesting against are the ‘extremists’ and should be made to own this label. These corporate 'extremists' are out of control, recklessly conducting an experiment with the climate which will impact us all.

      …Our government is helping propel us towards a catastrophe on a scale humankind has never encountered before: the collapse of our life-support systems. It does so in support of certain ideologies – consumerism, neoliberalism, capitalism – and on behalf of powerful industries. This, apparently, meets the definition of moderation. Seeking to prevent this catastrophe is extremism.

      Let’s be clear the supporters BAU are not moderate but extreme

      • Jenny How to get there 2.1.1

        British tax payer funded state oganisations define environmentalists and peace activists as 'terrorist'

        Greenpeace included with neo-Nazis on UK counter-terror list


        You can be sure that the label of 'terrorist' attached to Greenpeace by British Intelligence is the same label that the French Intelligence service the DGSE also attach to Greenpeace.

        You can also be sure that the British Intelligence consider French Intelligence the DGSE, just like themselves, to be counter terrorists.

        The French secret intelligence agency that murdered Nando Pereira and bombed Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior will not be on any establishment organisation terrorist watch list.

        ….Tarring environmental campaigners and terrorist organisations with the same brush is not going to help fight terrorism,” said John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK. “It will only harm the reputation of hard-working police officers … How can we possibly teach children about the devastation caused by the climate emergency while at the same implying that those trying to stop it are extremists?”

        Peta’s director, Elisa Allen, said: “This appears to be a sinister attempt to quash legitimate campaigning organisations – something that is as dangerous as it is undemocratic.”


        The bombing and murder carried out by the DGSE may be the most egregious act by an establishment Intelligence agency but it underlines what Elisa Allen said, that these views held by secret intelligence agencies and the police are dangerous and undemocratic.

        • Sacha

          Nando Pereira

          The chicken-loving cousin of Fernando the photographer. 🙂

        • Jenny How to get there

          This is what democracy looks like.

          Tens of millions form human chain in India's Bihar State in climate protest

          Tens of millions of people have reportedly formed an long human chain in the northern Indian state of Bihar to raise awareness about the environment and social justice…..

          ……The official Twitter account of the United Nations Environment Programme tweeted: "An estimated 50 million people in India's Bihar State made a massive human chain stretching over 18,000 km yesterday. Why? To raise awareness that we are in a #ClimateCrisis and to show resolve to protect our planet."

          The state has organised similar events for such causes in the last three years.


          • beautox

            No, that is simply fake news. 18,000km is more than the distance from London to Sydney.

            • Andre

              The total length of your digestive system is quite a lot longer than the straight-line distance from your mouth to your ass.

              • Incognito

                Did you miss the word “stretching”?

                • Andre

                  Stretching? 18,000 km is 18 million metres. If they squeezed 50 million people into 18 million metres, that's 0.36 metres per person. Even the rudest budget airlines give you a lot more than that in their stingiest seats.

                  • Incognito

                    Yeah, I did the same and even tried to make some comparisons: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_chain_(politics)

                    The numbers (online) are all over the place but it seems to me that a major event did take place. Quibbling about the actual numbers is just semantics IMO. Maybe satellite images can verify the claims 😉

                    The problem with distinguishing between fake and fact is that things are never that simple and black & white (binary).

  3. Ad 3

    Professor Ann Marie Brady takes New Zealand's government to task for its lax attitude towards Chinese state and donor influence within New Zealand politics.


    A couple of good links in there.

    • RedLogix 3.1

      You do realise that it's racist to say anything critical of the CCP. Our very own wumao 'Mark' assured us of this repeatedly. 🙂

      However my own personal Chinese sources tell me Xi's 'Presidency for Life' gambit is an act of desperation. China has four long standing problems:

      1. At present they remain highly dependent on imported resources that only arrive because ships are still free to move across oceans. But to get to China they must pass through several choke points all of which are contested and highly deniable.

      2. The four or five thousand years of civilisation is largely a myth. Just as modern Germany has only existed for a relatively short period, and prior to this it was an endless sequence of warlords, imperial expansions, invasions and collapses, the same with China. One of the most stable Chinese periods was when the Mongols invaded and ruled for 200 years or so. At least two major languages divide the nation, and numerous others remain. There is no particular reason why China’s current borders should be considered stable, and you only have to look at the intense resistance from the Taiwanese and HongKongers to the idea of reunification to get a taste of this.

      3. Their demographics are terrible. Contrary to what I imagined a few years back, China is running out of young people. This will put an enormous handbrake on their internal expansion. They remain a very low trust society; inner circle/out circle is very much a thing. Together these factors makes it very hard for China to continue expanding on internal growth only

      4. And to date most of that 'miraculous' expansion has been very much the result of China's entry into the global world trade order … mostly sponsored by the American Bretton Woods system. The USA tolerated the rise of Germany, Europe and Japan as competitors, because these nations largely played by the rules. China has not, it's policies of hypersubsidisation, and rampant IP theft have gone well past merely annoying. With the USA defaulting back to it's natural isolationism it's no longer interested in maintaining a trade system that largely benefits a nation that is posturing itself as an enemy.

      So far the CCP has been able to maintain social order because everyone was getting richer. The raising of 800m people into the middle class is indeed a remarkable achievement, but the ground on which it was achieved is shifting from under them. Hence Xi Xinping's rampant authoritarianism and projection of influence beyond it's borders. Australia and New Zealand are notionally linked into the "Third Island Chain" , ultimately our geography makes us a clear target to be subsumed into the CCP's long term goals to create a New Middle Earth.

      • Ad 3.1.1

        Great response thankyou.

        I'm painting the roof this weekend so I won't respond until the evening.

        • Rosemary McDonald

          Sorry to butt in….but isn't it too damn hot for roof painting?

          Or are you perchance at Ross Base?

          Sent from my phone with our Bus jammed into the only available shade north of Kataia.

      • Ad 3.1.2

        The primary reason China will continue to do great is: the United States.

        The United States is the gift that keeps on giving in terms of talent pool for innovations, financial capital for expansion, right kind of customer base for all their kinds of products and services, innovations to copy cheaply, and because they have acted so badly for four decades that they are making China look reasonably OK as an alternative ally.

        The United States has a fair number of problems which benefit China's place in the world for the remainder of the century.

        1. It has squandered the massive moral authority it gained across much of the world after helping Europe defeat Nazi Germany and defeat global communism (I'm sure the very young and the last remaining commies will deny they ever had it but they're the ones who didn't fight).

        China is on the other hand building a purely mercantilist and instrumental mode of transacting in the world. Trade deals are replacing the moral pacts built after World World 2 through the United Nations.

        2. Its constitutional innovations from the Revolution have worn out, so it no longer functions as a set of ideals to aspire to. In particular its Constitutional checks and balances of executive power have stopped working.

        China on the other hand has coherent government which is growing in precision and authority. Sure, I don't like it. But their Chinese social credit system may well turn into a more powerful system of corrective behaviours than the entire US judicial framework of law and prison. Imagine a world where the use of courts was less and less necessary, on China's scale.

        3. The USA is about as addicted to oil-based products as one could think, despite having invented and promulgated the digital economy which has significantly decarbonised parts of it.

        China is certainly addicted to oil, but it's making many of the right transformative moves, and if you want a 300km/h train to get you somewhere rather than a plane, look not to the USA.

        4. The USA used to be ambitious for the rest of the world and could roll out truly massive nation-building programmes through massive instruments including the US armed forces, the CIA, the World Bank, and the IMF. It’s also proven incapable of winning or at least completing a war in 50 years.

        China is now the world leader on nation-building systems, and only China has the instruments to roll them out now. Who knows if they will really come off – as in Pakistan – but they don't lack for will or ambit. China's the one that forges the really big trade deals.

        There's a really good chance that China is now better positioned for the future due to the systems of governance and control it has rolling, its capacity to decarbonise compared to other major countries, and its diplomatic force stripped of non-mercantile idealism.

        In the Year of the Rat, it's China that behaves like one.

        And that's a compliment to both China and to rats.

        • RedLogix

          All interesting and valid responses. Still I have to add some qualifiers.

          Post WW2 the USA allowed competitors to flourish as long as they stayed on their side ideologically and didn't challenge them militarily. China has broken both of those rules and the USA is now rapidly disengaging with China. The past few years have seen an increasing return of US business back to North America.

          The other big one that people keep missing is this; the USA never really needed the global trade order it established. It's imports/exports as a percentage of GDP are something in the order of 6%. They are now oil and gas independent. They simply don't need the rest of the world anymore and are certainly no longer interested in expending American lives in wars they have no interest in. As far as they're concerned they did their best to get the world on a more peaceful orderly basis but the effort has been largely spat upon. No US President since GW Bush has shown any real interest in global affairs and Trump is merely the clown show giving the middle finger to the rest of the planet.

          China is now the world leader on nation-building systems

          Which has to explain why it's nearest and most intimate neighbors, from Hong Kong to the Philippines are all anxious and unhappy about China's overt military expansion in the region. South China Sea pops into mind. The idea that China is a pacifist, merchantile power with only benign non-military intent is laughable to anyone in the region. Wherever they have the opportunity the Chinese are expanding and exerting their military muscle.

          its capacity to decarbonise compared to other major countries,

          Which has to explain why it's the largest emitter by far and growing faster than any other nation. Right? They have one hell of a trajectory to turn around.

  4. I'm with the Greens on this

    What kind of travesty is this that pretty much allows us to be a satellite of US military power? …and a target..under the guise of plucky Kiwi ingenuity


    The Greens are the only party to say it how it is when it comes to the US and its war mongering

    That we happily collude with Trump…a street corner drunk in the international sphere…truly exposes us as the lackeys we are

    • RedLogix 4.1

      Pick a lane … a satellite of US or CCP military power. There is no third option.

      • phantom snowflake 4.1.1

        The binary thinking is strong in this one. The third option, which we appear to be following, with the recent visit of a Chinese warship, is: both. Option 4 obviously is neutrality; 4(b) or 5, to suit those of us with a benevolent and inclusive nature being a foreign policy which is both neutral and pacifist.

        • RedLogix

          Small nations like NZ that are utterly dependent of freedom of the seas and open trade will ultimately be forced to pick a side. Just to be clear, I've advocated for many years that the age of empires is going to end, but in the meantime we have to deal with the realities in front of us.

          Wishful thinking about 'neutral and pacifist' will cut no mustard with the great powers.

          • phantom snowflake

            "Wishful thinking"…How very dare I! As co-creators of our world, what we humans need collectively is a shitload more "wishful thinking" and way less of the fossilized acceptance of "the realities in front of us."

            • RedLogix

              The problem with having typed out in excess of maybe 8,000 comments here over the past 13 years is that I tend to assume everyone has read all of them. Which is a terrible conceit of course.

              But yes I've outlined in many comments a vision for a post-empire political world, based on a global form of federal govt. Not dissimilar in nature to the UN, but in which the nations give up the aspects of their sovereignty that relate to international matters, such as trade agreements, freedom of navigation, communications, diplomacy and most especially war. I've repeatedly argued that all of the big problems we face are global in nature therefore demand political responses and authority at the same scale.

              However I've been a lonely voice on this for a long time now, and I'm assuming that none of this is going to come about for at least another generation. It may well take another catastrophic war to bring it about, who knows.

              In the meantime NZ has some hard choices to make.

          • McFlock

            The art of diplomacy for small nations isn't so much which side to pick, but when.

            • RedLogix

              When still dodges the question … which side do you pick McF?

              • Ad

                We don't need to make any decisions for a while yet.

                Our security and military establishment will be independent in name only with Australia making almost all of our hard choices for us (no need for thinking there)…

                … along with 90% of our banking (still no need for thinking)…

                …whereas as a society New Zealand cares only cares if your Visa is good rather than where you are from (in all our guest nights, student nights, and exports) …

                … and those three defaults enable China's rise in New Zealand and in Australia (and still not a fresh thought needed for any of the above to continue 🙂 )

                So far so good.

                • Poission

                  … along with 90% of our banking (still no need for thinking)…

                  Not in the loop .

                  Kiwibank might need to fork out about $12 billion if it is to buy BNZ, industry sources say.

                  It is believed that negotiations are under way for the Government-backed bank to buy BNZ from Australian owners NAB.


                  • Sacha

                    That would be an interesting state-funded long-term infrastructure investment, I'm guessing through the NZ Super Fund.

                    • Poission

                      i would suppose the NZSF would be the best vehicle.As a spend it would improve the sustainability of the nz current account faster then export growth.

                  • Ad

                    Not going to happen and you know it.

                    Kiwibank aren't even 10% of our banking after 19 years of operation, and have needed massive bailouts so big they had to be hocked off to ACC and NZSuperfund.

                    • Sacha

                      Imagine if they had been capitalised enough a decade ago to take on the Aussie mortgage-floggers?

                    • Poission

                      Kiwibank does not have business or farm lending portfolio risks either.

                    • Graeme

                      Nor does it have the business and farm lending profits.

                      Which is all good until those sectors go down the tubes. Which may be why there's suddenly rumours that BNZ is on the block. This could easily be another Hanover / Allied Farmers situation, in which case Kiwi Bank and backers would be keeping well clear, or should be.

      • francesca 4.1.2

        no thanks Red

        I've seen the evidence of US power (going back at least as far as Hiroshima and Korea , Vietnam, Cambodia ,Guatemala etc ad infinitum)and I'm not impressed….except in a fearful way.

        China's military impact on the world?

        Bases globally?

        I know you put a case that American hegemony has resulted in less death, and widespread peace and prosperity, but I don't buy it

        There may be fewer battle deaths, but economic sanctions are the new way of doing business..and war..and the deaths and ongoing misery are undeniable

        Battle deaths also don't take into account the lingering and longlasting death count asscociated with land mines,depleted uranium exposure … disability, birth defects ,cancer,and denial of access to medicines and food, general poverty from sanctions,destruction of cultures and societies.The US has steadily retreated from international treaties intended to make the world safer

        Peace and prosperity for the few, not the many

        I'm not choosing China either , I guess I have more optimism (or stupid hope) that we humans can be better..and need to be

        • RedLogix

          I know you put a case that American hegemony has resulted in less death, and widespread peace and prosperity, but I don't buy it

          The hard data I've produced over and over is a bitch, but then you have your own pre-conceptions to look after. I've never argued the Americans have produced a perfect world, but it's a fallacy to condemn the good by comparison with an ideal of perfection that has never been achieved.

          I guess I have more optimism (or stupid hope) that we humans can be better..and need to be

          Indeed, yet oddly enough whenever I give concrete expression to that exact hope … everyone around here goes quiet.

          • solkta

            The hard data I've produced

            You are very clever to have created a control planet where the US has not been so aggressive.

            • RedLogix

              US has not been so aggressive.

              Compared to what? Short of trying to argue historic counter factuals in which we imagine that the USSR had become the dominant world power post-WW2, or whatever, we can only really compare with the past. The data clearly shows that the past was nowhere near as peaceful as you imagine, and that war between the 'great powers of the day' has steadily declined, especially since WW2.

              • solkta

                I never said the past was peaceful. "Hard data", what a knob.

                • RedLogix

                  "Hard data", what a knob.

                  I produced a solid data rich reference you demonstrably failed to counter. Then you resort to name calling. Is that really the best you can do?

                  • solkta

                    Lol. Your solid data rich reference starts with the words "draft version".

                    There is an obvious reason for a cessation of direct conflict between the major powers, nuclear weapons.There is nothing in your link to suggest that there would have been more conflict overall if US foreign policy had been less aggressive. You are welcome to hold an opinion that there would have been based on conjecture, but "hard data" to support that there is not.

                    • RedLogix

                      Obviously you didn't even get as far as reading the first paragraph, before you found a petty distraction to amuse yourself with. Well there is another version here that's highly visual, doesn't require a lot of reading and isn't a draft. Unless you care to refute this, then merely pretending it doesn’t exist is irrational.

                      There is an obvious reason for a cessation of direct conflict between the major powers, nuclear weapons.

                      Yes indeed. So now can we drop that idiotic 'nuclear free' policy?

                      As for American foreign policy being so 'aggressive' by exactly what measure are you judging this? For 70 years since then end of WW2 the US military has ensured freedom of trade and movement of peoples between all nations resulting in a huge reduction in warfare, the end of overt colonisation, the growth of democracy, and an immense improvement in living standards … as long as you were on their side. That was not an unreasonable demand.

                      At various points they've fucked up, the invasion of Iraq being an obvious one. Covert actions in Latin America having little to commend them either. Since the end of the Cold War their interest and competency in maintaining the global peace has become increasingly erratic and ill-directed.

                      No-one is arguing that Pax-Americana did not have it's ugly moments, but if you imagine that reverting to a pre-WW2 era in which multiple competing great power empires constantly vied and battled with each other over controlling territory and trade routes is going to be somehow an improvement … well the data I've presented suggests you're dreaming.

                      Which at the same time doesn't say this dominant US role in world affairs is going to be sustainable either; at some point we need to have some tough conversations about what will replace it.

      • millsy 4.1.3

        TBH, I'm starting to lean towards the Chinese.

  5. Jenny How to get there 5

    The Green Party have been consistent in opposing genocide and helping its victims.

    Syrian protesters: 'Nobody can deny this anymore

    RNZ, 17 December 2016

    …..The Green Party and Amnesty International have urged the government to consider another emergency intake of refugees from Syria, in light of the humanitarian crisis.

    The Syrian Solidarity group said that needed to go further, and said the government needed to demand the Assad regime, Russia, Iranian and Iraq militias stop killing civilians.

    Spokesperson Ali Akil said its rally in central Auckland this afternoon was a push for action.

    One of the protesters, Fareeda Kassem, said she wanted New Zealand to take a stand against the violence.

    "The innocent people, the children, the newborn, who are being bombed in hospitals and schools. And this is just so crazy to see the whole world is being so silent about it. We're seeing this live, it's like nobody can deny this anymore."….

    ……Green Party immigration spokesperson Denise Roche said New Zealand had the capacity to take more refugees.

    "I do think it should be considered right now because of the conflict that's happening there, and there's some people who are seeking a safe haven."

    Ms Roche said the Green Party was also calling for a permanent increase to the refugee quota, to 1500.


  6. james 6


    Complaint about Lianne Dalziel and her election expenses (naming doners) referred to police.

    Great news.

    Hiding donations from people with strong links to china or are china based. Here is hoping that justice prevails.

    "If a candidate is found to have knowingly filed a false electoral return, the maximum penalty is up to two years in prison or a $10,000 fine."

    That would do the trick !

    • Incognito 6.1

      My doner’s name is kebab.

    • Sacha 6.2

      Does sound from that article like a straightforward failure to declare local body election campaign donations over $1500. Dalziel subsequently listing them on 18 December does not change that.

      The wriggleroom in the law is only over whether a breach was 'intentional' or not. ('Ignorance not being a defence' somehow does not apply to candidates seeking local power, only to plebs).

      Thus here is the defence argument:

      Dalziel said she had acted on her [lawyer] husband's advice that none of the donors [at an auction organised by him] paid over $1500 for the auctioned items, so could remain anonymous.

      Davidson later advised her to include the details of the donors "after taking additional advice" about the law.

      I was just following poor advice, your honour.

      • alwyn 6.2.1

        "I was just following poor advice, your honour."

        Or perhaps she could try an earlier excuse.

        "I'm just a housewife Your Honour. I always do what my husband tells me to do".

  7. Anne 7

    There's a big difference in a few donations of $1800 ($300 over the limit) which was slap-happily overlooked in a local body campaign, and a donation of $100.000 from a single donor carved up into packages of $14,999 in a general election campaign.

    • Sacha 7.1

      a few donations of $1800 ($300 over the limit)

      From the Stuff article that James linked to:

      Dalziel updated her return on December 18 to add the following names:

      – Wei Min Lu ($17,850) …

      – Yong Chen ($3920).

      – Zhe Cheng Tan ($2800).

      – Jiang Ping Wang ($2350) …

      – Grandland Investment Limited ($2950).

      – Yang Xia Wu ($1750).

      Their donations total $31,620. [an average of over $5000, or $3500 over the limit]

      Separately to the fundraising dinner, Countrywide Property, owned by Christchurch developer Richard Diver, donated Dalziel's campaign $6500.

      Not small money. What's a valid excuse for not following the few rules we have to minimise influence in elections?

      • Anne 7.1.1

        OK. I hadn't seen that update. The last link I read was some time ago. There was "a few of them" but I thought they were all around the $1800 mark. That makes a difference I concede but (imo) still doesn't put it on a par with Nationals misdemeanor.

        I'm with you over the need to be scrupulous about the rules being followed. No point in having them otherwise. It sounds like it was carelessness, but it should not have happened. Hopefully there will be less "carelessness" on both sides in the future.

    • James 7.2

      And where in t link did it say that it was just a few donations $300 over.

      either you are very lousy at reading or simply making shit up (I’m going with the later).

      to help you out one donation – as clearly listed was over $17k.

  8. Jenny How to get there 8

    Who knew that Russians used to refer to the West as a place of 'Normalnost' . (But don't anymore).

    Los Angeleles review of books


    By Peter Pomerantsev

    …..There is something very telling about the fact that the election of Donald Trump in late 2016 — a great victory for incoherence — took place at the exact time that Russia and Bashar al-Assad were bombing Aleppo to smithereens, shamelessly breaking humanitarian norms established since World War II. For those paying attention to both stories, a sickening montage played out between Trump’s television debates, with their breakdown of discourse as we knew it, and the nonstop video evidence of barrel bombs bringing down hospitals and apartment blocks, with babies found in the rubble. Of course humanitarian principles have been broken many times before, but in the past there was usually some attempt to deny, to cover things up, to be ashamed, to pretend ignorance. Here it was done with the shrug of the Sovereign Murderer. We have never had more evidence, more facts, to prove that atrocities are taking place. And never has it mattered less. In 2019, we see this all again: as Idlib is obliterated and Trump talks word-salad.

    This is the great paradox of the end of the Cold War: the future, or rather the future-less present, arrived first in Russia. We are only now catching up. Though maybe there’s a simple cultural logic at work here. If our own ideological coherence was based on opposition to the Soviet Union’s, when it collapsed we would invariably follow.

    The Russian regime finds itself at ease in this environment because it has been acting in it for longer. There’s nothing mystical at work in its success: it simply has a head start. Matching its messages to different audiences, constantly capturing attention and conjuring the illusion of strength through spectacle, lying for fun, throwing truth to the wind, and reducing facts to feelings — this is all familiar territory for the Kremlin. Some politicians in the West have joined in, but most institutions and bureaucracies are still playing by yesterday’s rules.

    In a final twist, a nostalgia can arise for “normalnost,” for a time of stable meaning, which for many, especially among media and intellectual elites in the United States, was the end of the Cold War. Perhaps this yearning for a time that still made sense explains the attention Russia now receives in the “liberal press” and in conversations among those “resisting” Trump. I don’t mean the quest for policies to deter the Kremlin’s invasions and information operations — which I consider a matter of urgency — but the language and iconography that is sometimes used in this debate: motifs from Soviet posters to advertise books and articles on the subject; Cold War secret service terminology to describe Russia’s behavior today. The Kremlin’s actual strength lies in having arrived at our future first, in how contemporary and similar it is to the thing once known as the West, but by describing it in ways reminiscent of the Soviet Union there seems a longing to recover a narrative and system of interpretation where we knew who we were. The more our reality becomes like the new Russia, the more we pine for the old Soviet Union.

    The victory for incoherence.

    ‘There is something very telling’ about the rise of incoherence in the West that culminated in Trump's election victory, and the misinformation war against the Syrian revolution.

    Colonial Viper a Trump supporter and apologist for the Assad regime, right from the earliest months of the protests for democratic rights in Syria, openly advocated in these very pages for the slaughter of anti regime protesters as CIA agents.

    That for his efforts CV was then later elevated to ‘Author’ marked a victory for incoherence and the end of normalnost where facts don’t matter and opinion is everything.

    [Colonial Viper authored his first post here at end of 2013. He authored his first post on Assad and Syria at the end of 2015. You can check for yourself using the search function. AFAIK, he was not a Trump supporter in those days.

    CV’s comments and posts were highly controversial at times and he became somewhat unhinged later on and went off reserve. He no longer has Author status here and has not commented here for a long time AFAIK.

    I don’t know if CV has openly advocated for mass violence as you allege and I doubt it would have been condoned if this were indeed the case. However, you seem to suggest that TS ‘rewarded’ CV for calling for mass violence and slaughter and that is a pertinent lie and utterly uncalled for.

    Your latest insinuations fly in the face of the hard work that Authors and Moderators (and SYSOP) as well as most commenters put into TS to distinguish between facts and opinions; there is a place for both, but they are not the same.

    I am done with your lies and falsehoods and the continuing snide remarks aimed at TS, which are a stab in the back given that you have been a commenter on this site for 11 years with thousands of comments.

    Don’t bother with e-mail or any other attempt to communicate regarding this Moderation note; the only opinions I’ll take into account are those of the other Moderators and SYSOP. You can pray that they see your case differently and in your favour.

    Take the rest of the year off – Incognito]

    • Incognito 8.1

      See my Moderation note @ 11:12 AM.

    • millsy 8.2

      Our old mate CV.

      He has certainly red-pilled himself in recent years if you look at his Twitter feed. His latest pet peeve is drag queens reading to a few middle class kids at a public library.

      Never mind the thousands of kids who have to live in boarding houses and hotel rooms along side all sorts of nutters each and every day in this country.

      • McFlock 8.2.1

        I can never remember which damned pill was supposed to do what. I just know I'm up to half a dozen a day lol

        edit: oh wait, I remember what the little blue pills are supposed to do…

    • Brigid 9.1

      Somewhere I read he was described as "ex-reality TV producer turned journalist and academic"

      Hilarious I thought.

  9. mosa 10

    Paul and Pascale Hennessey established Park Homes five years ago.

    This is the kind of business the government could be encouraging given our situation with unaffordable housing and lack of supply.

    It is sad that the acts of evil people can destroy a business that can help with what many are desperate for but can’t get.

    A home.


  10. millsy 11

    Barrelling toward theocracy, and no one is lifting a finger.


    Abortion today, then sex before marriage, then same sex relation shops, then dress codes, then no more evolution in schools.

    It's happening here as well. We all like seeing footage of the brass bands at Ratana church and Neve frolicking on the paepae, but Ratanaism is very conversative and reactionary. They are anti choice, anti women, anti gay, anti evolution and live in the dark ages. They are more or less brownwashed alt right.

  11. Fireblade 12

    Trump has proven that he won't defend U.S. troops in Iraq.

    34 U.S. troops suffered traumatic brain injuries after Iran's missile strike. Iran now knows that the orange commander-in-chief has a big mouth and tiny balls.


  12. adam 13

    “And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.’ When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society…”
    Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967.

    You know that "I have a Dream" guy.

    Did you know there was a trial that said he was assassinated by the US government?


    Oh well – feel free to keep dreaming and doing jack.

  13. Tiger Mountain 14

    How to lose the 2020 General election…a continuing series from the NZ Labour Party Caucus.

    The law change being discussed re changing superannuation payments for non qualifying partners is a blunder as sure as trumpeting “increase the age to 67” for two elections was. https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/118933472/pension-changes-remove-extra-payments-for-nonworking-younger-partners

    Labours die hard neo liberal aligned members of whom D. Parker is a stirling example, seem to believe that “out fiscal scrooging” the Nats is a vote winner. The logic re sidelining Capital Gains given the holy war National was generating on CGT, and Coalition dynamics, was somewhat understandable as a one off tactical move, and may well have salvaged 2020 for them regardless of the negative messages it sent to many Labour Green supporters.

    Likewise the Cannabis Referendum may play a part in the return of the Govt. But touching Super is a no no for many working class Kiwis as much as it is for the double dipping middle class who are happy to accept their super while they disparage beneficiaries.

    National Superannuation at 65 is a de facto UBI for that age group, and despite the generational issues and calls from bureaucrats (often with their own personal retirement schemes) for change-Labour do so at their peril.

    • RedBaronCV 14.1

      Not so sure this is a vote loser. It removes quite a lot of discrimination which I suspect skewed more towards women because of common life experiences. .

      The partner with an overseas pension removing eligibility has been an issue for a long time- good to see it sorted.

      A bit more thought needs to go into the rates of married couple, single person and two superannuitants sharing living space.

      There is also other financial discrimination in this space- if a couple's adult children come to live with them there is no financial penalty , if they return to live with a single parent superannuitant then $50 a week is lost.

      With respect to the partner age differences – if the qualifying partner dies – then the younger partner loses payment and has to depend on other welfare benefits.

      I see that all current arrangements have been grandfathered. Personally I would have thought that there should have been a transitional period (shorter for youngest partners ) so that over a period of 2-5 years they transit onto the same rules as the newly eligible.Booting any under 50's off shoudn't be a hardship – I don't see why they should remain eligible for a better benefit. Conversely applying the reverse of these rules would ease the transition for couples with narrow age spreads close to retirement.

  14. joe90 15

    1918, again, or Stephen King writes nonfiction.

    Hundreds of patients in Wuhan who have yet to be confirmed as carrying the new strain of coronavirus are becoming increasingly desperate as the city struggles to cope with the numbers reporting pneumonia symptoms.

    One 36-year-old, speaking by phone outside a major hospital in the city, said she had spent the past week taking her sick husband from hospital to hospital in a vain attempt to get him tested for the virus, which has already killed 41 people and infected hundreds more.

    “I have nothing. No protective clothing, only a raincoat, and I am standing outside the hospital in the rain,” said the woman, who gave her name as Xiaoxi.

    “I am desperate, I have lost count of time and days. I don’t know if we will both live to see the new year.”


    • Graeme 15.1

      In 1918 most people didn't really know what was happening. Today we have the internet and what you've posted.

      Social cohesion could get tricky

      We're in interesting times

  15. Fireblade 16

    The land of the free is now censoring Iranian media.

  16. Andre 17

    Cadet Bonespurs' Space Farce gets their logo.


    Sure looks like a probable copyright violation to me. Even if it's just derivative of a previous copyright violation.

  17. joe90 18

    Cohen, Omarosa and Parnas have all secretly recorded tRump.

    Anyone think the mobster oligarchs don't have him on tape?

    A recording obtained by ABC News appears to capture President Donald Trump telling associates he wanted the then-U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch fired while speaking at a small gathering that included Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — two former business associates of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani who have since been indicted in New York.

    The recording appears to contradict statements by Trump and support the narrative that has been offered by Parnas during broadcast interviews in recent days. Sources familiar with the recording said the recording was made during an intimate April 30, 2018, dinner at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.

    Trump has said repeatedly he does not know Parnas, a Soviet-born American who has emerged as a wild card in Trump’s impeachment trial, especially in the days since Trump was impeached.

    "Get rid of her!" is what the voice that appears to be Trump’s is heard saying. "Get her out tomorrow. I don't care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.


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