Openness and transparency

Written By: - Date published: 12:20 pm, June 8th, 2021 - 117 comments
Categories: chris bishop, democracy under attack, democratic participation, Media, national, Parliament, same old national - Tags:

On the weekend Andrea Vance gave the Government a bit of a serve about its openness and transparency.  She said this:

In my 20-year plus time as a journalist, this Government is one of the most thin-skinned and secretive I have experienced. Many of my colleagues say the same.

Even squeezing basic facts out of an agency is a frustrating, torturous and often futile exercise.

She also said this:

Take the last week. Two senior Stuff journalists attempted to interview Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, at a time when the China-Australia-New-Zealand relationship is under intense international scrutiny.

It didn’t happen. Not because of any geo-political sensitivities. Nor something as trivial as a diary clash. The paranoid and hyper-sensitive minister objected to taking questions from two journalists at once.

In the same week, Mahuta released detailed reports on the country’s creaking drinking, waste and stormwater infrastructure. They paint a dire picture and the issue needs urgent public debate.

She did not seem to comprehend that the same week that Mahuta was planning to release reports on the future of the Country’s drinking water may not have been a great time to seek time for an interview about China.

I suspect it was not planned.  It was just that Mahuta did not have enough hours in the day to contemplate an interview.

Vance then complained that the Government wanted to shape the narrative about developing stories.  Well blow me down but can anyone think of an instance in the past 100 years when this was not the case?

She then said this:

My OIA request – which by law should be answered within 20 working days – was delayed, and eventually took five times that length.

The Ombudsman agreed the hold-up was unacceptable, and I got an apology. It made no difference – MBIE still delivered the information on Wednesday, the date it had originally chosen.

I understand why it was obstructive. Hundreds of pages of emails reveal muddled, confused and dogmatic officials under pressure to justify a controversial decision. But much of the crucial information still appears to be redacted.

It’s now very difficult for journalists to get to the heart and the truth of a story. We are up against an army of well-paid spin doctors.

And this:

Since the current Government took office, the number of communications specialists has ballooned. Each minister has at least two press secretaries. (Ardern has four).

In the year Labour took office, the Ministry for the Environment had 10 PR staff. It now has 18. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade more than doubled its staff – up to 25.

MBIE blew out from 48 staff to 64. None of those five dozen specialists could give me those figures for many weeks – and again I was forced to ask the Ombudsman to intervene.

Vance does not mention the fact that Labour has proactively put a whole lot of information into the public domain.  Like Ministers diaries.  Previously this information had to be eeked out by way of LGOIMA.

She also does not acknowledge the huge stress on Ministers offices that has been caused by multiple questions.

The number of written questions put to Ministers from the opposition over the past few years have looked like this:

  • 2021 so far – 23376
  • 2020 – 19732
  • 2019 – 45626
  • 2018 – 40203
  • 2017 – 20563
  • 2016 – 15680
  • 2015 – 16180

Anyone notice a pattern?  See what happened when National was relegated to the opposition benches?

These are not simple questions to answer.  A quick check through Chris Bishop’s 1,482 questions made so far this year include the following:

  • Who paid for the afternoon tea at Government House for Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha, and how much did it cost?
  • How many COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in New Zealand to date, broken down by day?
  • Has the COVID Immunisation Register gone “offline” since it has been operational; if so, for how long in total?
  • What was the coding error in the software used in a local Canterbury medical appointment system for COVID-19 vaccines?
  • What risk assurance process, if any, was used for the software used in a local Canterbury medical appointment system for COVID-19 vaccines?

Turnaround for these questions is meant to be five days.  No wonder the OIA system is under pressure or that extra staff are being hired.

Gerard Otto has an interesting take on Vance’s claims:

Did you know that by the 2nd half of 2018 – 95% of all Official Information Act requests were completed on time, compared with only 91% in 2015/2016?

Me neither.

Who would know that sort of statistic – unless you dug into the numbers and searched around for the overall context – about open and transparent government – and just exactly what Andrea Vance was complaining about in her article titled ” This Government promised to be open and transparent, but it is an artfully-crafted mirage.”

I have not been able to confirm his futures but Otto is normally a very accurate and careful commentator.

His conclusion is pretty scathing:

Vance’s article did not provide statistics – about all the state sector departments and how they are responding, nor what was redacted nor the reasons why information was redacted. She did not detail all the complaints made under this government – nor the answers to those complaints made by Peter Boshier.

In other words – it was Vance who was spinning an artfully created mirage in her article based on a few anecdotal experiences she had over the past year.

Some people say she made excellent points and it was a good read – while others said – it was not Jacinda’s fault – it was those idiots in the public service. Truth is – Vance wrote a lazy article for lazy minds who do not think critically and who are easily mislead by any old opinion from a bitter, twisted and vengeful media.

The overall facts were missing – but some readers formed a view without them.

The situation has been going on for a while.  As noted by Radio New Zealand in 2018:

Auckland University Emeritus Professor Barry Gustafson said the exercise appeared to be more of a fishing expedition than anything to do with policy.

“They cast a hundred or thousand hooks into the sea and hope that they’ll pull up one fish.”

The opposition was searching for inconsistencies in ministers’ answers or something they could develop to embarrass the government.

“It’s getting well away, when you do that, from the original intention of written questions – which was to hold the government accountable on major policy matters and actions.”

A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said his office had requested additional staffing to deal with the high volume of written questions and official information requests.

“This was unavailable so the office restructured to employ a staff member to coordinate responses,” he said in a statement.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the KiwiBuild unit in the new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development had to hire someone with the primary job of answering opposition questions.

Mr Twyford said he was committed to answering questions properly as they were an important part of the parliamentary process.

But he said “there’s no doubt that the volume and the trivial nature of some of the questions is a deliberate tactic by the opposition to tie up government staff resources.”

If we are going to have a discussion on performance then more detail is required.  And attacks on the Government without providing very important context is not something an independent media engages in.

Updatehere is the confirmation of Gerard Otto’s statistics.

117 comments on “Openness and transparency ”

  1. dv 1

    Gerard Otto has an interesting take on Vance’s claims:

    That is very good read.

  2. Anne 2

    Quote from Ms Vance:

    The paranoid and hyper-sensitive minister objected to taking questions from two journalists at once.

    The boot's on the wrong foot. It's the likes of tabloid raised Vance and her fellow tabloid raised colleagues who are paranoid and hyper-sensitive.

    They were trained not to research the actual facts – because facts are boring – but rather to hyperventilate and to add to the ever increasing demand for clickbait viewing.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.1

      Yes. Vance was happy in the Key era of being a favoured recipient of his 'leaky faucet' of government information ( like much of the gallery). |He knew that they are transaction journalists who would do him favours if they got his 'no surprises' briefings from the public service.

      And on top she seemed to be getting 'special information' from Dunne – who lost his job rather then reveal the contents of his emails to her.

  3. Gosman 3

    Ummm… the given objection that Andrea Vance stated that was given by Mahuta was not that she was too busy but she objected to two journalists being involved in the interview process.

    • Louis 3.1

      That was Vance's take on it, no evidence to say that was the reason. The minister was busy, as MS pointed out;

      "Mahuta was planning to release reports on the future of the Country’s drinking water may not have been a great time to seek time for an interview about China. I suspect it was not planned. It was just that Mahuta did not have enough hours in the day to contemplate an interview"

  4. Gabby 4

    You know, if the various ministries stuck all non confidential info online, they could respond to a lot of requests by referring Basher Bishop to their website, and he could pull finger and dig out the answers.

    • McFlock 4.1

      Still takes time to properly read the request and then confirm that all the requested information is actually available. And then linking to a website homepage would be another cause for complaint, if there are millions of possible information permutations available on that website.

      So a precise link would have to be generated for an OIA response, if transparency were done in good faith.

      • Gabby 4.1.1

        Or someone could sit Bashyer down and show him how a keyword search works.

        • McFlock 4.1.1.1

          Yes I'm sure the nats would love that policy to be OIA-compliant if they're ever part of a government again.

          The binary equivalent of the douglas adams bit:

          “But the plans were on display…”
          “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
          “That’s the display department.”
          “With a flashlight.”
          “Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
          “So had the stairs.”
          “But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
          “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

          • Gabby 4.1.1.1.1

            Big difference between that and putting the stuff online in searchable form, as you probably were aware.

            • McFlock 4.1.1.1.1.1

              only if you know the right search terms, and the responses aren't flooded with subtly different terms from completely different fields.

              And only if it's in a discrete publication, rather than being available within a large data repository like statsnz have.

              But ignoring those and one or two other caveats that might lead to an information overload, sure. If someone has the time and resources to spend. And that's the main difference: OIA shifts the onus onto the department to actively supply the official information, whereas referring someone to a website places a workload barrier between people and that information.

              • Gabby

                Data entry typists are surely cheaper than pr goons. Net saving.

                • McFlock

                  OIA requests are not answered by "PR goons".

                  Not all comms people are even remotely close to "pr".

                  Data entry typists, in this instance, are unneeded, as the information might already be online.

                  I'm not sure you have even the most vague idea of what any of these jobs can entail.

                  And making information accessibility a thing for only the most tech-literate people seems to me to be a bad idea for democracy. Only a few days ago someone in this site was unable to find information on a government website. Finding the tab for table 5c in a downloaded supplementary data file for a multi-hundred-page, blandly-titled report in an imprecise subject area covered by a department that I didn't even know collated such information was not, for them, readily apparent from a "keyword search".

                  also: I wonder if some of these staff are employees that replaced the work done by private contractors under previous governments?

              • Gabby

                I think Bashyer Bishop could probably find someone to type in some keywords for him.

                • Kate

                  Getting flunkies to type in keywords is how Bishop orchestrated the great Budget hack of 2019.

  5. AB 5

    Anybody who was inclined to take at face value the output of an ideological worker like Vance is a tad naive.

  6. gypsy 6

    Otto may well have a point about National gaming the OIA process, but how does that excuse the obfuscation and manipulation that accompanied Vance's own OIA experience? And how does that excuse the rapid rise in the number of PR personnel? PR personnel don't research answers to OIA requests, that's left to back room civil servants.

    • mickysavage 6.1

      The overall stats for responsiveness are pretty good and improving. Bishop's antics are relevant because the more clogged the response system is the longer it will take to provide responses.

      • gypsy 6.1.1

        They are not relevant to the number of PR employees, or why a Minister of the Crown will not take questions from more than one journalist, if indeed that is the case.

        • weka 6.1.1.1

          It's classic Labour. They do good things over here, but let's not mention the beneficiaries under the carpet. Ardern is a superb communicator, of course she's going to control information to Labour's advantage.

          (sorry micky, that sounds like a dig at your post, but it's meant to be a dig at Labour)

        • McFlock 6.1.1.2

          One of the strengths through a number of important issues facing this government and the previous coalition has been its communication. Covid, volcanoes, whatever. Not perfect by any means, but generally timely and good enough for the majority of people.

          Now the complaint is too many comms staff. lol

          • gypsy 6.1.1.2.1

            It depends on whether PR staff are communicating or spinning.

            • McFlock 6.1.1.2.1.1

              "Spinning" is often one of them irregular verbs:
              I communicate, you spin, they lie.

              Which comms staff do you think are "spinning" as opposed to actually "communicating"? No names, the office they work in would be sufficient.

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                Would political comms staff who didn't endeavour to put the best possible 'spin' (that they thought could be justified if challenged) on announcements be doing their job? ‘Spin’ is a subset of political ‘Comms’ – presumably there have been impartial analyses done as to which points of the political compass make the most use of spin, artful and otherwise.

                I spin occasionally, you spin often, they live and breathe spin.

                Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” – George Orwell

                I (would like to) think that Ardern, Robertson, Davidson and Shaw only spin occasionally, but it might be a minority opinion.

              • gypsy

                Yes you first point is well made. Let me put it to you this way. This government is no busier than any others in recent history. Yet they have employed a significant number of (additional) communications/PR specialists. That could mean a number of things. Andrea Vance is of the view that this is part of the government tightening it's "iron grip on the control of information". She has also given specific examples of the concerns she has, including a cabinet minister refusing an interview because she won't be interviewed by more than one person at a time. Now Vance may be wrong; she may be misrepresenting the situation. I guess we'll get some idea if other's come out and support or contradict her position.

                • Drowsy M. Kram

                  This government is no busier than any others in recent history.

                  Gypsy, is there some impartial analysis supporting that contention, or is it (just) your (or Vance’s) opinion? Could attempts to address pent-up unmet need(s) involve a bit of extra work.

                  And there's complications from the COVID-19 pandemic – might they make more work for at least some politicians – consider, for example, Simon Bridges' role as chair of the Epidemic Response Committee.

                  • McFlock

                    I guess I'm biased. Every day in town more progress is being made on a billion-dollar hospital. The last lot promised one and delayed making a decision on where to build it. That tends to make me think Labour are more talky because they're more do-ey.

                    • gypsy

                      Like most governments, the talking has well exceeded the doing thus far. I well remember my nat friends complaining that Key talked a big game but in the end flattered to deceive. It’s quite humorous listening to my lab friends now saying the same thing about Ardern.

                    • McFlock

                      Ditching the DHBs is a pretty big move.

                      Stuff is being built that the nats promised then ignored.

                      The covid bailouts were done spectacularly well – compare that with the chch "whatever it takes".

                      The focus on child poverty will yield long term structural changes. That's a massive change from ten years ago.

                      Maybe the government doesn't have enough comms staff to get through to your mates.

                    • gypsy

                      "Ditching the DHBs is a pretty big move."

                      That's an announcement, it hasn't actually happened. It really is a stretch to argue that this government is actually doing any more than either the Key or Clark governments.

                      "Maybe the government doesn't have enough comms staff to get through to your mates."

                      The point Andrea Vance is making is that the PR staff are not being employed to get through to anyone's mates. They are being employed to control information. If she's right, that should worry us all, dont you think?

                    • McFlock

                      "Ditching the DHBs is a pretty big move."

                      That's an announcement, it hasn't actually happened.

                      The DHB removal started happening almost immediately from the announcement. First noticed some folks having their emails transition to "@health"… rather than "@[dhb]"… within days.

                      That's a full health restructure planned with a phased implementation to start visible changes alongside the announcement. You think that just magicked itself into existence? That's at least a year of planning, oh wait, you think they started that during a pandemic? Or did the pandemic interrupt that process, ya reckon?

                      The point Andrea Vance is making is that the PR staff are not being employed to get through to anyone's mates. They are being employed to control information. If she's right, that should worry us all, dont you think?

                      If. I have yet to see any evidence of that if. I do see a plausible argument that an existing gatekeeper of information (a political reporter) might have a vested interest in arguing against more effective government communication with the population. It bypasses their role.

                  • gypsy

                    This government has faced significant issues (including in it's first term), but then the incoming national government in 2008 faced a looming recession, global financial crisis, Christchurcch earthquakes, Pike river and so on. That is the nature of government.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      If you're suggesting that the workload of Government varies over time according to external and internal events over which it has little-to-no control, then that makes sense to me.

                      One of Vance's current 'concerns' appears to be an increase in the number of government PR staff. I wonder – did the number of PR staff used by the National government remain static during the period in which NZ "faced a looming recession, global financial crisis, Christchurcch earthquakes, Pike river and so on."?

                      That would be a useful comparative analysis, imho. Would Jason Ede count as PR staff, or just a "black ops" spin doctor?

                      I'll worry about the number of PR staff a government uses if they're shown to be up to no good. Vance's opinion piece is a bit lightweight in this regard, although I can understand why she would assume that government PR staff must be up to not good.

                      Truth is – Vance wrote a lazy article for lazy minds who do not think critically and who are easily mislead by any old opinion from a bitter, twisted and vengeful media.

                      The overall facts were missing – but some readers formed a view without them.

                  • gypsy

                    "I'll worry about the number of PR staff a government uses if they're shown to be up to no good. "

                    You make some good points. As to your comment I have quoted, depending on who you credit for what they do, Vance is very clear what she thinks about that. She says this:

                    "The Government’s iron grip on the control of information has tightened."

                    "And it is now harder than ever to get information."

                    "In my 20-year plus time as a journalist, this Government is one of the most thin-skinned and secretive I have experienced. Many of my colleagues say the same."

                    "Even squeezing basic facts out of an agency is a frustrating, torturous and often futile exercise. "

                    She says it is "very difficult for journalists to get to the heart and the truth of a story. We are up against an army of well-paid spin doctors."

                    There's plenty more. You may not agree with her, but if those comments reflect reality then someone most certainly is up to no good.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      "The Government’s iron grip on the control of information has tightened."

                      Indeed, if Vance's “comments reflect reality“. The purpose of the imagery of an already "iron grip" being tightened further is to alarm.

                      If this supposed tightening of an already iron grip is real, might it be response to the rise of 'gotcha journalism' and 'gotcha politics' – a type of journo-pollie evolutionary arms race? [“…an army of well-paid spin doctors.“]

                      Who's to blame for the abuse on Andrea Vance?
                      [Tim Watkin; August 2013]

                      Three times as many New Zealanders chose to watch The Big Bang Theory over 3rd Degree. It's depressing, but it's also indicative of how and why some public servants and politicians have lost sight of some of the core principles of democracy and decent accountability.

                      The public doesn't have the same appetite for eternal vigilence that they used to. Modern lifestyles don't allow for it, other alternatives are more appealing and the media has in part given in and played along. So we must take our share of the blame.

                      So when Vance complains about weakening press freedoms, we as her colleagues must look at our own role in that and the way journalism has changed in the past generation.

                      Hopefully this might be a teaching moment, when we can stress again some of the reasons for the principles we as journalists are trying to uphold. The profession and the whole country could probably do with a reminder.

                  • gypsy

                    " If this supposed tightening of an already iron grip is real, might it be response to the rise of 'gotcha journalism' and 'gotcha politics' – a type of journo-pollie evolutionary arms race? [“…an army of well-paid spin doctors.“] "

                    Who knows. But the finger is being pointed specifically at this government, not previous governments.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Imho when a finger is pointed there's value in examining not only what's being pointed at, but also the 'who' and 'why' of that 'pointing'.

                      I doubt many would deny that politicisation of the media is real and increasing. But what might be driving that trend – maybe something to do with the privatisation of media outlets?

                      https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/jun/14/journalists-at-the-age-express-alarm-over-increasing-politicisation-and-loss-of-independence

                      Trust in news in New Zealand 2021 [pdf]
                      Reasons for not trusting the media
                      Some participants mentioned that they have lost trust in the media, especially in talkback radio, because of political bias or politicisation, or because the media pushes a specific agenda. Some respondents say news outlets offer opinions rather than factual news and well-researched information, hence reducing their trustworthiness.

                      the problem with the news is that it is no longer the news. It is one side of an opinion and the other sides are left out of the story.

                      journalists appear to want to own their stories by selectively reporting to a predetermined plan.

                      Just curious – has "the finger" not been pointed at previous NZ governments, and wouldn’t Vance be in an ideal position to inform?

                  • gypsy

                    "has "the finger" not been pointed at previous NZ governments, and wouldn’t Vance be in an ideal position to inform?"

                    Good questions. But Vance puts her concerns into perspective in her opening paragraphs:

                    "From the moment she took office in 2017, Jacinda Ardern promised her government would be the most open and transparent New Zealand has seen. In her first formal speech to Parliament she pledged: “This government will foster a more open and democratic society. It will strengthen transparency around official information.”"

                    Vance is writing about this government specifically, because it is this PM that made those claims.

                  • gypsy

                    " Gypsy, have you examined the two links embedded in Vance's opening statements? "

                    Thanks – yes that is true, I can't find any reference to the PM making those remarks herself, but I doubt it matters. 1. Clare Curran certainly made the comments on behalf of the government (Curran was the Associate Open Government Minister), and it would be extraordinary for her to make such a claim without the PM's ok. 2. In the wake of Curran's demise, the PM appears to have affirmed that pledge.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Thanks – yes that is true, I can't find any reference to the PM making those remarks herself, but I doubt it matters.

                      Sloppy work by senior journalists matters, imho. Why did Vance include those two Stuff links in the first two sentences of her opinion piece? It would have been trivially easy to provide links that supported her assertions, for example the ‘1 News’ link you found.

                      The Prime Minister admitted today the Government has not lived up to the commitment to "be the most open, most transparent Government that New Zealand has ever had", after being questioned by Simon Bridges over the chief technology officer saga.

                      Former Associate Open Government Minister Clare Curran made the commitment in November last year [2017].

                      And of course you're right, it most likely doesn't matter to those lapping up Vance's attempt to join the dots between an increase in the number of communications/PR staff, and the long wait for a response to her OIA request.

                      But I do empathise with Vance's frustration – I retired years ago.

                      It also keeps journalists distracted and over-burdened with a rolling maul of press conferences and announcements, which are often meaningless or repetitive and prevent sustained or detailed questioning.

                      Published : 04 March 2021

                      Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes today released the Official Information Act statistics for the six months to December 2020.

                      The latest statistics cover 116 agencies that collectively completed 25,332 official information requests between June and December 2020, a sharp 27% increase in volume on the previous six months.

                      In the six months to December, 54 agencies completed 100% of their OIA requests within the legislated timeframe. Overall, agencies responded to 24,631, or 97.2%, of requests on time, compared with the 97.3% in the January to June 2020 period.

                      Since 2015 when the Commission started collecting OIA data there has been overall improvement in OIA requests being completed on time. In June 2016, 91.1% of OIAs were completed on time compared with 97.2% today.

                      “In the context of a 27% increase in volume, maintaining a high level of timeliness is a satisfactory result,” said Mr Hughes.

                      “During this period the Public Service has and continues to be at the forefront of implementing the Government’s COVID-19 response and economic recovery effort.”

                      Of the 116 agencies, 54 have published OIA responses on their websites, up from 46 in the previous six months. In total, 1876 OIA responses were published, a 52% increase on the previous period.

                      “While this result is particularly pleasing, we know we can do better,” said Mr Hughes. “Agencies are working hard to make official information more freely available.”

                      In the six months to December 2020, the number of complaints to the Ombudsman notified to agencies decreased 18%, down from 192 to 158. A total of 20 final opinions were made by the Ombudsman against agencies, a 39% decrease on the previous period (33 during the January-June 2020 period), which represents less than 0.1% of all OIA requests responded to by agencies.

                      The Commission now publishes additional OIA information on the data.govt.nz website, which contains all OIA statistics since 2015, as well as proactive release locations for OIA responses and Cabinet papers.

                      The latest Ombudsman’s data is also available.

                      https://www.publicservice.govt.nz/resources/official-information-statistics/

                      https://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/news/chief-ombudsman-revisits-not-game-hide-and-seek

                  • gypsy

                    "Why did Vance include those two Stuff links in the first two sentences of her opinion piece? "

                    Well the second link refers to Ardern's speech from the throne. That quote is entirely correct.

                    The first link goes to an article about hiding data. I suspect it is the wrong link, but the reality is Ardern's Associate Minister of Open Government coined the phrase "most open and transparent New Zealand has seen".

                    And that's the point. Vance is pointing her (and by all accounts other journo's) experience with this government back at the PM's own words. She may be right, she may be wrong.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      And that's the point. Vance is pointing her (and by all accounts other journo's) experience with this government back at the PM's own words.

                      Perhaps Vance is at the end of her tether if she's choosing to label an experienced senior politician "paranoid and hyper-sensitive". Maybe she's wrong; maybe she's right – a 50:50 proposition?

                      They [the public] see a prime minister that has captivated the world with her ‘authentic’ communication style, intimate social media postings, daily Covid briefings and proactive releases of Cabinet papers.

                      It is an artfully-crafted mirage, because the reality is very different.

                      This reads like a highly-personalised tall-poppy hit-job, because our PM really has captivated the NZ public, and the wider world. That's the reality – there is no "mirage", imho, and that is what Vance finds so confounding, and confronting.

                      When Jacinda Ardern speaks, people listen. Why?
                      Jacinda Ardern has been thrown into the global spotlight over the last week and has spoken with composure and compassion. Her response to New Zealand’s worst ever mass-shooting has sparked interest internationally, as people watch and seem captivated by her balance of authority and honesty.

                      10 things we can learn from the way Jacinda Ardern communicates

                      Jacinda Ardern: The best leader the world has – Liberal Article

                      Nevertheless, I wish Vance well in her endeavours to chip away at this supposed "artfully-crafted mirage" on the way to her next exposé to expose – what, I wonder? Another 'gotcha'? The ugly truth? Incompetence? Malfeasance? Must all be there, because 'politicians'.

                      But credit where credit is due tooat least she hasn't descended to muck-raking.

                      The grapevine gazette: How NZ media handled the Clarke Gayford rumours

                      TVNZ political reporter Andrea Vance called it “a sad, sad day for journalism”.

                      We are all going to justify following the story telling ourselves: ‘It’s now about how the PM reacts.’ I’m sorry, but this is why everyone hates the media,” she said on Twitter.

                • weka

                  Nice summing up. Would be great to look at what she is saying and examine it rather writing it off via sound bites. Micky had a go, but I think was still too dismissive.

      • Stewart 6.1.2

        Yeah, Otto's misunderstood those stats, which weakens his argument significantly. The measure was deliberately chosen by Peter Hughes and his good buddy Boshier to enable the public service to look good while masking a decline in quality and responses within 20 working days. The 'on time' measure in the stats is for all requests responded to within even extended periods. They don't break out how many requests are responded to within the 20 working day limit, and how many within the extended limit they create for themselves. It creates an incentive for departments to extend the time for responding to requests, instead of asking Treasury for more resources to respond to the requests within 20 working days. Responding to each OIA request is like a mini project, and the same '3 iron laws of project management' apply: time, quality and cost. If you can't get more resources (cost), you either have to push out the date for responding, or drop the quality. Note also that the Ombudsman is formally investigating these complaints far less often – he goes for 'informal resolution', which also jukes the stats.

        This was blogged about 3 years ago, and No Right Turn has covered it lots.

  7. Patricia Bremner 7

    Vance and Bishop. "Nuff said!!

  8. Stuart Munro 8

    In the very ancient time, a certain semi-barbaric prince was accused of very serious crimes, by a priest probably acting to secure the throne for his younger brother.

    The judicial process was simple – the prince himself had to pull a grape from a pouch containing one black and one white grape. If he pulled a black grape he would be put to death. The priest however, was a neoliberal, so the prince was certain the trial would be rigged, and the pouch would contain two black grapes.

    The problem then, was how to produce a white grape from a pouch that did not contain any. In the event, the prince pulled out his grape, and, loudly thanking the gods, ate it before anyone else could see it.

    "What colour was it?" the priest demanded.

    "It was white of course," the prince replied, "If you look you'll find the black one is still in the bag."

    Vance has come up a white grape.

    • mac1 8.1

      I've heard a similar story but with black and white pebbles. The black stone got spilt by the prince onto a path made of both coloured stones and then showed the black stone still in the bag as proof it was a white one….

      The other moral of that story is always to leave an out for the powerful deceiver so that he is not backed into a corner. The very transparency of the process, even though it had been fiddled, finessed the deceiver.

      The same with Trump's vain attempt to allege electoral irregularities. The system that he as President and his fellow Republicans oversaw turned him down, making charges of voting fiddles against himself rather difficult to believe.

      • Stuart Munro 8.1.1

        In fairness to Vance though – the entire raison d'etre of MBIE is to cover up their myriad failings. False technocracies, of which MBIE is practically the archetype, have an infinitude of ass covering to do.

        • mac1 8.1.1.1

          " the entire raison d'etre of MBIE is to cover up their myriad failings". Such a statement does not do much fairness to yourself, being somewhat of a blanket, sweeping and unfair generalisation.

          • Stuart Munro 8.1.1.1.1

            The ministry of everything, is necessarily responsible for everything.

            • mac1 8.1.1.1.1.1

              As are we responsible for the accuracy of our statements……..

              • Stuart Munro

                To what extent do you believe a country with rapidly growing inequality can rate the ministry that declares its object is "to grow NZ for all" a success?

                • mac1

                  I am querying your statement that I regarded as cheapening my response to your good story of the prince by inviting me to accept a huge generalisation that you made. I'm not trying to defend the MBIE. I'm asking you to either acknowledge your generalisation for what it was, or to justify with evidence that its sole reason for existence is to cover its 'ass' (sic).

                  • Stuart Munro

                    Created as a 'super ministry' in 2012, it serves eighteen portfolios and 14 ministers. This is not happenstance – individual ministers have less chance of constructive or representative input to MBIE than any other civil service entity. That was the whole point of Joyce's reform – MBIE was his version of the End of History – and the premise of the amalgamation was every bit as fundamentally flawed as Fukuyama's.

                    As for burden of proof, with the exception of the Covid response, I'm hard put to find anything in which MBIE has been involved that has reflected credit upon it. MBIE oversaw (or overlooked) the myriad wage theft immigration scams that had Indian expat fraudsters import hundreds of unskilled workers and secure residency for them, and clearly had NFI of their suitability, or the local labour market, and no functioning system for checking whether their policy settings were appropriate. These clowns were drawing professional salaries – the public have every right to expect a professional performance from them, including dismissal for their many failures.

  9. Muttonbird 9

    Thanks MS.

    It's shame you have to spend so much time pushing back against, as Gerard Otto accurately puts it, "a lazy article for lazy minds who do not think critically and who are easily mislead by any old opinion from a bitter, twisted and vengeful media".

    • weka 9.1

      still going for the cheap ad homs I see.

      • Muttonbird 9.1.1

        Meh. Some got taken in by Vance’s article.

        • weka 9.1.1.1

          again, can't argue the points, just making ad homs.

          • ghostwhowalksnz 9.1.1.1.1

            It was the feminist Carol Hanisch who popularised the phrase "The Personal is Political" but that was from a slightly different angle.

      • Red Blooded One 9.1.2

        Genuine question. Is it fair to criticize someone if they have clearly quoted someone who is criticizing the media. Surely Muttonbird agreeing with and referencing someone's quote, which is aimed at an article, it's readers, and media in general, is not a cheap ad hom. If it technically is, my apologies.

        • weka 9.1.2.1

          Context from yesterday. The piece is bad because Vance wrote it (and probably because it criticises Labour), rather than the piece is wrong because x, y, z.

          • Muttonbird 9.1.2.1.1

            Ok, the piece is wrong because it's sensationalist, it's lazy, and it's driven by personal grievance.

            • Anne 9.1.2.1.1.1

              Which goes back to what I said @ 2.

              I'm not indulging in politics and I don't think Muttonbird is either. Them's the facts. I can think of some excellent journos in days gone by who clearly tended towards National in their political views but who were nevertheless always worth a read. A good example, Ian Templeton.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Templeton

              • weka

                are you saying that the pieces is worthless because it was written by Vance?

                • Patricia Bremner

                  Short answer "Yes". IMO She lost all credibility in her dealings with Bow Tie. Her reckons leave me cold. The discussion points are valid? Not if they are based on a falacious premise. “This Government is hiring people to do nothing” Just rubbish.

                  • gypsy

                    But that isn't the premise at all. The premise is that the government is hiring people to (deliberately) impede the free flow of information. In a democracy we are entitled to know if that is true or not.

            • weka 9.1.2.1.1.2

              Something can be sensationalist, lazy and driven by personal grievance and be right, so you still haven't made the case.

              • Louis

                Thought Gerard Otto, link in MS piece, made a case for where he thought Vance was wrong.

                • gypsy

                  " Which is not true. See Sacha @ 13 "

                  That is a personal opinion provided based on someone's experience. That has value, but it is certainly not definitive.

                  • Louis

                    Steph knows what she is talking about and she certainly challenged Vance on her views.

              • ghostwhowalksnz

                This is part of what she did write..

                'The paranoid and hyper-sensitive minister objected to taking questions from two journalists at once.'

                Paranoid ? Oh that right its OK when Vance does it and everyone else has to make the case on what she wrote. Pleeeese

                • weka

                  No one said that. You just made that up because sarcastic mockery is easier or more satisfying than making actual political arguments.

                  I’d shrug except this is serious. What you just did there is why the left can’t have nice things. We don’t know how to talk about the shit that matters and we’re shedding debate skills. Look at how many people are rejecting what Vance said because its Vance.

                  I get it. I’m on Twitter, I have to resist the impulse to mockery and sound bite wit all the time. And it’s more obvious there that people are struggling to debate. We should be protecting TS robust debate culture, not treating the place like social media.

                  • ghostwhowalksnz

                    I just showed her statement was ludicrous… called the minister paranoid.

                    I didnt make it up

                    I dont see how the people pointing it out have to justify any comments that are directed AT her rather than finding fault with Mahuta

                    • weka

                      This is the bit you made up and that I was responding to:

                      "Oh that right its OK when Vance does it and everyone else has to make the case on what she wrote"

                  • Incognito

                    Your last paragraph is spot on and I’m guilty as accused 🙁

                    • weka

                      We all do it. Many of us. It’s been jumping out at me lately. Seeing the inability of people to debate on Twitter, making me grateful for TS, then seeing this shit happening here too. There’s solid debate happening here as well so am thinking about the dynamics and what we can protect. But the dismissal is bothering me. Maybe we’re tired. Or maybe we’ve got a culture now if it, colonised from Twitter

                    • Incognito []

                      Speaking for myself, as always, I’ve been working hard, which makes debating here during the week an arduous task, at best. I have to confess that I do react like anybody else to the vibe du jour here, which is not a positive one, to say the least. There just doesn’t seem to be willingness at present to have genuine good faith debate, maybe because it is hard and takes considerable effort or maybe because people have succumbed to cynicism. There’s some good stuff, but it’s like gold dust that has to be carefully sieved out.

                  • Sacha

                    In general rather than this specific thread, please do not see refusal to countenance some stances on topics as 'struggling to debate'. People are simply over having to justify their existence and recognising how treating speech as a 'marketplace' reinforces power imbalances. Some loudmouths refuse to listen.

                    Ridicule can be the most sensible response. Thankfully on Twitter it is also easier to screen out the worst braying dumbarsery.

                    • weka

                      you're missing the point. It's nothing to do with countenancing stances. If you think a stance is bullshit then say so. If you want to say why, great. If you don't, fine. But the whole way of debating that's about ad homs and underming people instead of addressing issues is harming debate culture.

                      eg, GW said "Oh that right its OK when Vance does it and everyone else has to make the case on what she wrote. Pleeeese"

                      Which means that if the debate is to be had, I have to then explain why that's basically a lie and misleading. Rather than talking about what the actual problems are.

                    • weka

                      and you know, massive fucking irony, to be taking potshots at Vance for being shitty at presenting her position.

                      I often enjoy your mocking/sound bite approach on twitter. It's witty and fits into the fast flow of what happens there. Here it doesn't work so well where it's part of a general dismissal. If someone thinks Vance's piece is shit, then sure, say that, but it doesn't need to be said over and over again if that's all that's being contributed. And the tendency on the left to ad hom is a problem where it's replacing robust debate.

                    • Sacha

                      it doesn't need to be said over and over again if that's all that's being contributed

                      Certainly becoming a problem here. Too much noise, not enough signal. Does not encourage others to bother joining in.

                • Gabby

                  Why were the 2 journos so keen to pair up?

            • Louis 9.1.2.1.1.3

              +1 Muttonbird.

  10. mac1 10

    Vance wrote, "Many of my colleagues say the same."

    Has she elaborated on that? Who? How many? References to what they said?

  11. mac1 11

    Vance writes, "In my 20-year plus time as a journalist, this Government is one of the most thin-skinned and secretive I have experienced." This century there have been three governments. In 22 years, Labour 1999-2008, National 2008-2017, Labour 2017-2021. Not a lot of comparison to be made, to make a judgment worth noting that this is one of the most secretive and thin-skinned…….

    • Sacha 11.1

      She also worked in the UK. News of the World, etc..

      • mac1 11.1.1

        OK then, British Labour party was government from late 1990s to 2010. In NZ from 2010 onwards, two governments. Still three governments of which she says the current Labour government is one of the worst…..

        One of three…… could even be the second worst, out of three.

        Not a really elucidatory comparison.

        Of the three wines I have ever drunk, two reds and a white, this red I'm drinking now is one of the worst! You don't get to be a master of wine with that tasting experience.

    • Anne 11.2

      mac1 @ 11
      Vance shows her ignorance of NZ's modern political history. The thinnest skinned government would have to be that between 1975 and 1984 when Muldoon reigned supreme. He held grievances against individuals simply because they criticised him in some way. He conducted vendettas against groups based on perception rather than reality.

      Don't lets forget what he did to Bill Rowling's teenage daughter who committed suicide based in part on the jeers, sneers, dishonest and demeaning claims he made about her father for no reason other than he was the Leader of the Opposition. After her death a scrap book of hers was discovered containing all the newspaper stories of Muldoon's vitriol towards her father.

      This tyrannical bully was surely the thinnest skinned NZ PM ever.

      • Louis 11.2.1

        Didn't know that. That's terrible, so tragic. There's that same irresponsible disregard for the consequences in the current line up of the National party, where obvioulsy nothing has changed.

        I see a fascinating book in you Anne, I hope one day you write it, you would have no issue in getting it published.

        • Anne 11.2.1.1

          Yes, there is a story to tell. Its one of mischievous political shenanigans and cover ups. It started back in the early to mid 1970s and continued for 10 plus years. As a young and naive newcomer to politics in the 70s, I was unwittingly being used by someone who years later I realised was mixed up in the 'shenanigans'. There were some serious consequences for me further down the track so I have been slowly trying to gather the threads together ever since.

          Its a bit like a large and complicated jigsaw with a few stories within the main story and some of the pieces are still missing.

          One thing I can tell you… the bully I mentioned above was donkey deep in the cover-ups in particular.

          • Louis 11.2.1.1.1

            Even more intriguing!

            "the bully I mentioned above was donkey deep in the cover-ups in particular"

            That wouldn't surprise me one bit.

      • gypsy 11.2.2

        Hi Anne. I well remember in 1978, as a teenager still too young to vote, attending a Bill Rowling rally at the town hall in Auckland. I know my view may have been rose tinted form the time, but Bill was a thoroughly decent New Zealander, who was treated abominably by Muldoon. Your description of Muldoon is almost too polite.

      • mac1 11.2.3

        In 1972 Muldoon came to Blenheim. At question time a man asked a question, standing at the back about where I, a 23 year old, was. He was asked to come to the front. He did and asked his question.

        He was then left standing at the front so he made his way back down the aisle, as it was rude to stand where he was. Halfway down, as Muldoon was now answering his question, he accepted the offer of a man who saw his need to be seated and put his knee out into the aisle and tapped it with his hand. "Sit here" style of thing.

        The questioner sat on this man's outstretched knee.

        Mulddon's response was to draw attention to this in a homophobic and mean way, even for those times. I knew then he was wrong. But from then on, Muldoon had demeaned himself as a mean-spirited and cackling homophobic bully who saw political capital in taking a cheap shot. The Moyle affair was a worse example of the same bullying behaviour.

        This was particularly why I enjoyed David Lange's wit when, on assuming the Labour leadership, he met in Parliament bully Muldoon's 'plum tum' sally with the choicest riposte I ever heard.

        From memory it went, "The member for Remuera may refer to me as ‘plum tum’ but viewed from side on the member looks like he has secreted about his person the entire contents of a Hawkes Bay orchard."

        • Anne 11.2.3.1

          Member for Tamaki. 😉

          The choicest Lange quip I remember was when some British lady with an aristocratic title was sent by Maggie T to basically give Lange a right telling off over our Nuclear Free status. As she was walking away from the PM's Office, Lange yelled after her “Hey Baroness, you’ve left your broomstick behind”.

          The Moyle Affair was a set-up from the start and I know the identities of two of the people who were implicated.

  12. Mat Simpson 12

    If only Vance could drop her love affair with the National party and be the journalist we deserve , you know the one who is interested in the truth despite it being red or blue and reports and writes without any political bias.

    Sure have a dig at Adern's social democrats but don't stay silent when people like that shyster Key and his colleague's got away with so many things that were never scrutinised between 2009-2017 while Vance and her ilk turned a blind eye to the worst excesses.

  13. Sacha 13

    Because journalists deal mainly with govt PR people I guess it is easy for them to think that is what all 'Communications' staff are. Not so.

    https://twitter.com/JustStephOK/status/1401336603205726209

    and

    https://twitter.com/JustStephOK/status/1401336606846423042

    • Muttonbird 13.1

      I touched on this in my own shortened, time-poor way on Sunday. I said:

      In reality, the media landscape has changed, the demands are ever increasing and in real time, and governments' response to that naturally changes too.

      https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-06-06-2021/#comment-1796561

      Not good enough for some, though.

    • Louis 13.2

      +1 Sacha. Vance didnt like Steph's suggestion that she should "reach out to the @PR_InstituteNZ to see if she can be buddied up with a comms mgr in a govt agency to find out what day-to-day life is actually like. I guarantee it’s not what she thinks"

      See Sacha's comment @ 13 for the link.

      • Sabine 13.2.1

        when you 'embed' journalists with government owned stenographers you expect to get the truth?

        https://www.britannica.com/topic/embedded-journalism

        oh well, all its good propaganda when Labour does it, i can't wait for the howls of indignation should a National led or an Act led government demand the same. 🙂

        Embedded journalism, the practice of placing journalists within and under the control of one side’s military during an armed conflict. Embedded reporters and photographers are attached to a specific military unit and permitted to accompany troops into combat zones. Embedded journalism was introduced by the U.S. Department of Defense during the Iraq War (2003–11) as a strategic response to criticisms about the low level of access granted to reporters during the Persian Gulf War (1990–91) and the early years of the Afghanistan War (which began in 2001).

        The point is, non of the government stooges need to do the job. If they don't like being answerable to the public they can go and get a job in private industry, surely they can get a decent pay there too doing fuck all all day long.

        • Louis 13.2.1.1

          Some would disagree with your opinion Sabine.

        • Muttonbird 13.2.1.2

          All the major outlets embed journalists in the National Party. The relationship is fraught with sycophancy and potential for abuse.

          Tracy Watkins, Stacey Kirk, Claire Trevett, Audrey Young, Derek Chen, are all current or former National Party reporters. They are those who cover the National Party, and as such are beholden to the National Party for their column inches.

          I prefer government and opposition deliver to all journalists equally and impartially.

  14. peter sim 14
    • Media presenters, desperately short of something to (breathlessly) present information advance themselves and their opinions as "news".
    • I am not picking on Vance most of them do it, from time to time.

    Hey there are deadlines to meet. Bugger the truth.

  15. Jackel 15

    Thin-skinned and secretive, an odd combination of terms. So if they spill their guts their whole world will fall apart. Vance grossly misjudges and underestimates Labour if she thinks they are like that.

  16. cricklewood 16

    No Right Turn follows OIA stats etc closely, various articles on his blog over recent times seem to outline a less than desirable trend away from open govt.

    He's nothing if not consistant on issues around the OIA

    • Incognito 16.1

      The OIA is in dire need of a major overhaul. However, technocratic rules and regulations are not going to fix the core problem, which is the attitude and mentality of both recipients & requesters. Unfortunately, anti-egalitarian attitudes are rife in our society down to the smallest ‘fiefdoms’. Hiding behind ‘confidentiality’ or ‘commercial sensitivity’ should have a high hurdle, as high as name suppression by a Court, for example. Remove or make it really hard for a ‘vexatious litigant’ such as the National Party to game and clog up the system. The fact that this Government has given it a low priority and put it in the fridge tells you everything you need to know.

  17. tc 17

    Whining spun dried entitlement from someone who got played during DP and is about as clued up as any neo lib hack is.

    20 years in the same owned media system and it shows Andrea.

  18. K C 18

    I see the thin skinned are everywhere here too……

    Parliamentary questions are/were needed because of a government who refuses to release set real targets or release information to protect its continuous failures. That is even worse now Labour hold a majority.

    What about the denial about running out of COVID vaccines? Earlier this week they confirmed that the numbers of doses were as reported, delivery as reported, and when confronted with the reality that we would run out the answer was "no". Now Hipkins has had to admit the truth. Too much of this goes on and shows either a lack of competence or transparency. You choose which.

    This is a government of spin, so much BS almost every day, we're drowning in it.

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    Warm welcome again to those who are here. The Mountain Tui substack was officially started on the 2nd of July. I wrote about what led me here on this post. Since then, it’s been a learning to navigate the platform, get to meet those in the community, and basically be ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    2 days ago
  • About fucking time
    The US Supreme Court has been rogue for years, with openly corrupt judges making the law up as they go to suit themselves, their billionaire buyers, and the Republican Party. But now, in the wake of them granting a licence for tyranny, President Biden is actually going to try and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Climate Change: False accounting and wishful thinking
    National released their draft 2026-2030 Emissions Reduction Plan today. The plan is required under the Zero Carbon Act, and must set out policies and strategies to meet the relevant emissions budget. Having cancelled all Labour's actually effective climate change policies and crashed the carbon price, National was always going to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • The Enemies Of Sunshine And Space.
    Our Houses? The Urban Density debate is a horrible combination of intergenerational avarice and envy, fuelled by the grim certainty that none of the generations coming up after them will ever have it as good as the Boomers. To say that this situation rankles among those born after 1965 is to ...
    2 days ago
  • Still the 5 Eyes Achilles Heel?
    The National Cyber Security Centre (NZSC), a unit in the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) dedicated to cyber-security, has released a Review of its response to the 2021 email hacking of NZ members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC, … Continue reading ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 days ago
  • Britain's Devastating Electoral Slip.
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    3 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on why right wingers think all governments (including their own) are incompetent
    Since open denial of climate change is no longer a viable political option, denial now comes in disguise. The release this week of the coalition government’s ‘draft emissions reductions plan” shows that the Luxon government is refusing to see the need to cut emissions at source. Instead, it proposes to ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    3 days ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Wednesday, July 17
    TL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy this morning are:Chris Penk is set to roll back building standards for insulation that had only just been put in place, and which had been estimated to save 40% from power costs, after builders ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    3 days ago
  • Open Letter to Pharmac
    All this talk of getting oldIt's getting me down, my loveLike a cat in a bag, waiting to drownThis time I'm coming downAnd I hope you're thinking of meAs you lay down on your sideNow the drugs don't workThey just make you worse but I know I'll see your face ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    3 days ago
  • A blanket of misinformation
    Two old sayings have been on my mind lately. The first is: “The pen is mightier than the sword”, describing the power of language and communication to help or to harm. The other, which captures the speed with which falsehoods can become ingrained and hard to undo, is: “A lie can ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    3 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Wednesday, July 17
    TL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day to 7:00 am on Wednesday, July 17 are:Scoop: Government considers rolling back home insulation standards RNZ’s Eloise GibsonNews: Government plans tree-planting frenzy as report shows NZ no longer ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    3 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Wednesday, July 17
    TL;DR: As of 6:00 am on Wednesday, July 17 , the top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day were:Simon Watts released the Government’s draft Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), which included proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    3 days ago
  • “Shhhh” – National's 3 Waters is loaded with higher costs and lays a path to ...
    This is a long, possibly technical, but very, very important read. I encourage you to take the time and spread your awareness.IntroductionIn 2022, then Labour Party Prime Minister Jacinda Adern expended significant political capital to protect New Zealand’s water assets from privatisation. She lost that battle, and Labour and the ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    3 days ago
  • Plugging a video channel: Dr Gilbz
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    3 days ago
  • Some “scrutiny” again
    Back in 2022, in its Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, the government promised to strengthen scrutiny of Official Information Act exemption clauses in legislation. Since then they've run a secret "consultation" on how to do that, with their preferred outcome being that agencies will consult the Ministry of Justice ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Crashing New Zealand's health system is not the way to prosperity, Prime Minister
    Another day, and yet another piece of bad news for New Zealand’s health system. Reports have come out that General Practitioners (GP) may have to close doors, or increase patient fees to survive. The so-called ‘capitation’ funding review, which supports GP practices to survive, is under way, and primary care ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    4 days ago
  • Closer Than You Think: Ageing Boomers, Laurie & Les, Talk Politics.
    Redefining Our Terms: “When an angry majority is demanding change, defending the status-quo is an extremist position.”“WHAT’S THIS?”, asked Laurie, eyeing suspiciously the two glasses of red wine deposited in front of him.“A nice drop of red. I thought you’d be keen to celebrate the French Far-Right’s victory with the ...
    4 days ago
  • Come on Darleen.
    Good morning all, time for a return to things domestic. After elections in the UK and France, Luxon gatecrashing Nato, and the attempted shooting of Trump, it’s probably about time we re-focus on local politics.Unless of course you’re Christopher Luxon and you’re so exhausted from all your schmoozing in Washington ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    4 days ago
  • How the Northwest was lost and may be won
    This is a guest post by Darren Davis. It originally appeared on his excellent blog, Adventures in Transitland, which we encourage you to check out. It is shared by kind permission. The Northwest has always been Auckland’s public transport Cinderella, rarely invited to the public funding ball. How did ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    4 days ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Tuesday July 16
    Luxon has told a Financial Times’ correspondent he would openly call out China’s spying in future and does not fear economic retaliation from Aotearoa’s largest trading partner.File Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy on Tuesday, ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Tuesday, July 16
    TL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so to 6:00 am on Tuesday, July 16 are:PM Christopher Luxon has given a very hawkish interview to the Financial Times-$$$ correspondent in Washington, Demetri Sevastopulu, saying ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Tuesday, July 16
    Photo by Ryunosuke Kikuno on UnsplashTL;DR: The top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day to 6:00 am are:BNZ released its Performance of Services Index for June, finding that services sector is at its lowest level of activity ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • The second crisis; assumption was the mother
    Late on the night of July 16, 1984, while four National Cabinet Ministers were meeting in the Beehive office of Deputy Prime Minister Jim McLay, plotting the ultimate downfall of outgoing Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon, another crisis was building up in another part of the capital. The United States ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    4 days ago
  • Can we air condition our way out of extreme heat?
    This is a re-post from The Climate Brink by Andrew Dessler Air conditioning was initially a symbol of comfort and wealth, enjoyed by the wealthy in theaters and upscale homes. Over time, as technology advanced and costs decreased, air conditioning became more accessible to the general public. With global warming, though, ...
    4 days ago
  • Review: The Zimiamvian Trilogy, by E.R. Eddison (1935-1958)
    I have reviewed some fairly obscure stuff on this blog. Nineteenth century New Zealand speculative fiction. Forgotten Tolkien adaptations. George MacDonald and William Morris. Last month I took a look at The Worm Ouroboros (1922), by E.R. Eddison, which while not strictly obscure, is also not overly inviting to many ...
    4 days ago
  • Media Link: AVFA on the Trump assassination attempt.
    In this episode of “A View from Afar” Selwyn Manning and I discuss the attempt on Donald Trump’s life and its implications for the US elections. The political darkness grows. ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    4 days ago
  • Law & Order: National Party 1, Police 0, Public -1
    What happened?Media is reporting that police have lost in their pay dispute with the Coalition Government.Some of you might remember that the police rejected Labour’s previous offer in September, 2023, possibly looking forward to be taken care of by the self-touted ‘Party of Law and Order’ - National.If you look ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    5 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the Trump shooting and a potential hike in fees for visiting the doctor
    Having watched Donald Trump systematically exploit social grievances, urge people not to accept his election loss and incite his followers to violent insurrection… it is a bit hard to swallow the media descriptions over the past 24 hours of Trump being a “victim” of violence. More like a case of ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Monday July 15
    The exploitation of workers on the national fibre broadband rollout highlights once again the dark underbelly of our ‘churn and burn’ economy. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy today are:An extraordinary Steve Kilgallon investigation into ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Monday, July 15
    Photo by Jessica Loaiza on UnsplashTL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last three days to 9:00 am on Monday, July 15 are:Investigation: Immigration NZ refused to prosecute an alleged exploiter despite a mountain of evidence - ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • City Centre Rebuild: How Soon Is Now?
    Patrick Reynolds is deputy chair of the City Centre Advisory Panel and a director of Greater Auckland There is ongoing angst about construction disruption in the city centre. And fair enough: it’s very tough, CRL and other construction has been going on for a very long time. Like the pandemic, ...
    Greater AucklandBy Patrick Reynolds
    5 days ago
  • Peril, dismay, resolution
    This afternoon we rolled into Budapest to bring to a close our ride across Europe. We did 144 km yesterday, severe heat messages coming in from the weather app as we bounced along unformed Hungarian back roads and a road strip strewn with fallen trees from an overnight tornado. Somewhere ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    5 days ago
  • Bullet the Blue Sky
    In the locust windComes a rattle and humJacob wrestled the angelAnd the angel was overcomeYou plant a demon seedYou raise a flower of fireWe see them burnin' crossesSee the flames, higher and higherBullet the blue skyBullet the blue skyThe indelible images, the soundtrack of America. Guns, assassinations, where-were-you-when moments attached ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Monday, July 15
    TL;DR: The top six announcements, rulings, reports, surveys, statistics and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the three days to 6:00 am on Monday, July 23 are:University of Auckland researcher Ryan Greenaway-McGrevy published an analysis of the impact of Auckland's 2016 zoning reforms.BNZ's latest Performance ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā’s diary for the week to July 23 and beyond
    TL;DR: The six key events to watch in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy in the week to July 23 include:PM Christopher Luxon has returned from a trip to the United States and may hold a post-Cabinet news conference at 4:00 pm today.The BusinessNZ-BNZ PSI survey results for June will be released this ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • Was The Assassination Attempt Fake?
    Hi,It’s in incredible photo, and we’re going to be talking about it for a long time:Trump, triumphantly raising his hand in the air after being shot. Photo credit: Evan VucciYou can watch what happened on YouTube in real time, as a 20-year-old from Pennsylvania lets off a series of gunshots ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    5 days ago
  • 40 years ago, inside the crisis that made modern NZ
    It had rained all day in Auckland, and the Metro Theatre in Mangere was steamed up inside as more and more people arrived to celebrate what had once seemed impossible. Sir Robert Muldoon had lost the 1984 election. “Piggy” Muldoon was no more. Such was the desire to get rid ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    5 days ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #28
    A listing of 34 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, July 7, 2024 thru Sat, July 13, 2024. Story of the week It's still early summer in the Northern Hemisphere. The season comes as our first year of 1.5°C warming ...
    5 days ago
  • Unsurprising, but Trump shooting creates opportunity for a surprising response
    I can’t say I’m shocked. As the US news networks offer rolling coverage dissecting the detail of today’s shooting at a Donald Trump rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, and we hear eye-witnesses trying to make sense of their trauma, the most common word being used is shock. And shocking it is. ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    6 days ago
  • Escalation in the States as Trump is shot and his allies capitalize on the moment
    Snapshot summary of the shooting in the States belowAnd a time to remember what Abraham Lincoln once said of the United States of America:We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    6 days ago
  • Bernie Sanders: Joe Biden for President
    I will do all that I can to see that President Biden is re-elected. Why? Despite my disagreements with him on particular issues, he has been the most effective president in the modern history of our country and is the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump — a demagogue and ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    6 days ago
  • Questions from God
    Have you invited God into your online life? Do you have answers for his questions? Did I just assume God’s pronouns?Before this goes any further, or gets too blasphemous, a word of explanation. When I say “God”, I don’t meant your god(s), if you have one/them. The God I speak ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • The politics of money and influence
    Did you know: Four days ago, the CEO of Warner Bros Discovery (WBD), David Zaslav, opined that he didn’t really care who won the US Presidential election, so long as they were M&A and business friendly. Please share my Substack so I can continue my work. Thank you and happy ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    6 days ago
  • Auckland & Transport Minister Simeon Brown's insanity
    Excuse me, but I just don’t feel like being polite today. What is going on with Simeon Brown? I mean, really? After spending valuable Ministerial time, focus, and government resources to overturn tailored speed limits in school and high fatality zones that *checks notes* reduces the risk of deaths and ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    6 days ago
  • Were scientists caught falsifying data in the hacked emails incident dubbed 'climategate'?
    Skeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by John Mason in collaboration with members from the Gigafact team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline. Were scientists caught falsifying data in the ...
    6 days ago
  • What Happened to David D'Amato's Millions?
    Today’s podcast episode is for paying Webworm members — and is a conversation seven years in the making. Let me explain.Hi,As I hit “send” on this newsletter, I’m about to play my 2016 documentary Tickled to a theatre full of about 400 Webworm readers in Auckland, New Zealand.And with Tickled ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    6 days ago
  • Voting as a multi-order process of choice.
    Recent elections around the world got me to thinking about voting. At a broad level, voting involves processes and choices. Embedded in both are the logics that go into “sincere” versus “tactical” voting. “Sincere” voting is usually a matter of preferred … Continue reading ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    7 days ago
  • Women in Space.
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    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    7 days ago
  • Bernard’s Saturday Soliloquy for the week to July 13
    Auckland waterfront, July. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My top six things to note around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the week to July 13 are:The National-ACT-NZ First Coalition Government watered down vehicle emissions standards this week, compounding the climate emissions damage from an increasingly ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    7 days ago
  • Dems need to ask the right question about Biden as his age now defines the campaign
    Midway through the news conference that many American political commentators had built up as critical to Joe Biden’s re-election chances, the US president said European leaders are not asking him not to run for a second term, “they’re saying you gotta win”.The problem for Biden and his advisors is that ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    7 days ago
  • Govt flounders while ocean temps soar
    TL;DR : Here’s the top six items of climate news for Aotearoa-NZ this week, as selected by Bernard Hickey and The Kākā’s climate correspondent Cathrine Dyer, most of which they discussin the video above. According to experts, the rate of ocean surface warming around New Zealand is “outstripping the global ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    7 days ago

  • Update on global IT outage
    Acting Prime Minister David Seymour has been in contact throughout the evening with senior officials who have coordinated a whole of government response to the global IT outage and can provide an update. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has designated the National Emergency Management Agency as the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • New Zealand, Japan renew Pacific partnership
    New Zealand and Japan will continue to step up their shared engagement with the Pacific, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.    “New Zealand and Japan have a strong, shared interest in a free, open and stable Pacific Islands region,” Mr Peters says.    “We are pleased to be finding more ways ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    9 hours ago
  • New infrastructure energises BOP forestry towns
    New developments in the heart of North Island forestry country will reinvigorate their communities and boost economic development, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones says. Mr Jones visited Kaingaroa and Kawerau in Bay of Plenty today to open a landmark community centre in the former and a new connecting road in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    11 hours ago
  • 'Pacific Futures'
    President Adeang, fellow Ministers, honourable Diet Member Horii, Ambassadors, distinguished guests.    Minasama, konnichiwa, and good afternoon, everyone.    Distinguished guests, it’s a pleasure to be here with you today to talk about New Zealand’s foreign policy reset, the reasons for it, the values that underpin it, and how it ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Delivering 24 hour pothole repairs
    Kiwis and freight operators will benefit from the Coalition Government delivering on its commitment to introduce targets that will ensure a greater number of potholes on our state highways are identified and fixed within 24 hours, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  “Increasing productivity to help rebuild our economy is a key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Peer Support Specialists rolled out in hospitals
    Five hospitals have been selected to trial a new mental health and addiction peer support service in their emergency departments as part of the Government’s commitment to increase access to mental health and addiction support for New Zealanders, says Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey.  “Peer Support Specialists in EDs will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Consultation opens for the Emissions Reduction Plan
    The Government’s draft Emissions Reduction Plan shows we can stay within the limits of the first two emissions budgets while growing the economy, Climate Change Minister Simon Watts says. “This draft Emissions Reduction Plan shows that with effective climate change policies we can both grow the economy and deliver our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Benefit stats highlight need for welfare reset
    The coalition Government is providing extra support for job seekers to ensure as many Kiwis as possible are in work or preparing for work, Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston says. “While today’s quarterly data showing a rise in the number of people on Jobseeker benefits has been long ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • School attendance continues to increase
    Provisional school attendance data for Term 2 2024 released today has shown more students are back in class compared to last year, with 53.1 per cent of students regularly attending, compared with 47 per cent in Term 2 2023, Associate Education Minister David Seymour says. “The Government has prioritised student ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • $22.7m of West Coast resilience projects underway
    Transport Minister Simeon Brown has welcomed news of progress being made by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) on the first of several crucial resilience projects underway on the South Island’s West Coast.“State highways across the West Coast are critical lifelines for communities throughout the region, including for freight and tourism. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Migrant school leavers to get part-time work rights
    The coalition Government is providing migrant school leavers with greater opportunities, by increasing access to part-time work rights for those awaiting the outcome of a family residence application, Immigration Minister Erica Stanford has announced.  “Many young people who are part of a family residence application process are unable to work. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Funding to support use of NZ Sign Language
    Seven projects have received government funding totalling nearly $250,000 to maintain and promote the use of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). Initiatives that received an NZSL Board Community Grants this year include camps that support the use of NZSL through physical and sensory activities, and clubs where Deaf people and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Inflation data shows progress in economic recovery
    Today’s Consumer Price Index data which has inflation at 3.3 per cent for the year to July 2024, shows we are turning our economy around and winning the fight against rampant inflation, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says.  “While today’s data will be welcome news for Kiwis, I know many New ...
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    3 days ago
  • Experts to advise Minister on Oranga Tamariki
    The Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board has been re-established by the Minister for Children, Karen Chhour. “I look forward to working with the new board to continue to ensure Oranga Tamariki and the care and protection system, are entirely child centric,” Minister Chhour says. “The board will provide independent advice ...
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    3 days ago
  • Expectations set for improved medicines access
    Associate Health Minister David Seymour says he has set clear expectations for Pharmac around delivering the medicines and medical technology that Kiwis need.  “For many New Zealanders, funding for pharmaceuticals is life or death, or the difference between a life of pain and suffering or living freely. New cancer medicines ...
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    3 days ago
  • Regional Development Minister to host summits
    Regional Development Minister Shane Jones will hold a series of nationwide summits to discuss regional priorities, aspirations and opportunities, with the first kicking off in Nelson on August 12. The 15 summits will facilitate conversations about progressing regional economic growth and opportunities to drive productivity, prosperity and resilience through the ...
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    4 days ago
  • Government delivers new school for Rolleston
    The Coalition Government is addressing growing demands on Canterbury’s school network, by delivering a new primary school in Rolleston, Education Minister Erica Stanford says. Within Budget 24’s $400 million investment into school property growth, construction will begin on a new primary school (years 1-8) in Selwyn, Canterbury.  Rolleston South Primary ...
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    4 days ago
  • New speed camera signs to improve safety
    The Government is welcoming the rollout of new speed camera signs for fixed speed cameras to encourage drivers to check their speeds, improving road safety and avoiding costly speeding tickets, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says. “Providing Kiwis with an opportunity to check their speed and slow down in high crash areas ...
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    4 days ago
  • NZ, Korea strengthen relationship
    New Zealand and the Republic of Korea continue to strengthen their relationship, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “New Zealand and Korea have a long history – from New Zealand soldiers fighting in the Korean War, through to our strong cooperation today as partners supporting the international rules-based order.    ...
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    4 days ago
  • Investing for future growth in tourism and hospitality
    The Government is moving forward with recommendations from the Tourism Data Leadership Group, beginning with establishing a Tourism Data Partnership Fund says Tourism and Hospitality Minister Matt Doocey. “The Tourism Data Partnership Fund is funded through the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) and will provide up to $400,000 ...
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    5 days ago
  • 4000 more job seekers to get case managers
    A new over-the-phone employment case management service will see thousands more job seekers under the age of 25 supported to find work, Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston has announced. “MSD case managers provide valuable support to help people into work, but less than a third of those receiving ...
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    5 days ago
  • Trade Minister to attend G7 meeting in Italy
    Trade Minister Todd McClay will attend the Group of Seven (G7) Trade Ministers meeting in Reggio Calabria, Italy next week. This is the first time New Zealand has been invited to join the event, which will be attended by some of the world’s largest economies and many of New Zealand’s ...
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    6 days ago
  • Ministers reveal consequences for unruly Kāinga Ora tenants
    Ministers are pleased to see Kāinga Ora taking a stronger approach to managing unruly, threatening or abusive tenants, Housing Minister Chris Bishop and Associate Housing Minister Tama Potaka say.    “For far too long, a small number of Kāinga Ora tenants have ridden roughshod over their neighbours because, under Kāinga ...
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    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister wraps up US visit in California
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has finished a successful four-day visit to the United States with meetings in California on his final day focusing on innovation and investment.  “It has been fantastic to be in San Francisco today seeing first-hand the deepening links between New Zealand and California. “New Zealand company, EV Maritime, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Prime Minister leads Indo-Pacific Four at NATO
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon today chaired a meeting of the Indo-Pacific Four (IP4) countries – Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand. The IP4 met in the context of NATO’s Summit in Washington DC hosted by President Biden. “Prosperity is only possible with security,” Mr Luxon says. “We need ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • District Court judges appointed
    Attorney-General Hon Judith Collins today announced the appointment of three new District Court Judges.   The appointees, who will take up their roles in July and August at the Manukau, Rotorua and Invercargill courts, are:   Matthew Nathan Judge Nathan was admitted to bar in New Zealand in 2021, having previously been ...
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    1 week ago
  • Urgent review into Wairoa flood response begins
    Environment Minister, Penny Simmonds today announced the terms of reference for a rapid review into the Wairoa flood response. “The Wairoa community has raised significant concerns about the management of the Wairoa River bar and the impact this had on flooding of properties in the district,” says Ms Simmonds. “The Government ...
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    1 week ago
  • NZDF’s Red Sea deployment extended
    New Zealand has extended its contribution to the US-led coalition working to uphold maritime security in the Red Sea, Defence Minister Judith Collins and Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced today. “The decision to extend this deployment is reflective of the continued need to partner and act in line with New ...
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  • Government provides support to tackle tax debt and compliance
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