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Politicians Don’t Know Jack

Written By: - Date published: 7:01 am, June 3rd, 2019 - 63 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, Economy, Parliament, Politics, public services, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Last week’s Budgetgate proved yet again that politicians are like any other normal person and know very little about most things and almost nothing about technology and IT. This is nothing new.

Stuff’s ‘IT expert’ has written a scathing piece about (our) politicians having Luddite qualities.

Give me strength. These are the same politicians that [sic] will be making decisions on important technology-related matters.

Do you have confidence that these ministers will make the right decision on 5G and/or cyber security? Or is it more likely they’ll make an ill-informed, but politically motivated, decision?

Yeah, nothing like expressing concern to further undermine trust and confidence in the Government. However, the writer, perhaps unwittingly, touches on a core issue here, which is that the Government makes decision based on information. The quality of information varies, as we have recently seen. Ideally, the Government relies on expert advice that has been rigorously checked (verified). Ideally, the bits of expert advice are integrated into a holistic policy framework. These things take time and are one of the main reasons why the Government uses so many Working Groups. They cost money too.

On important matters, we rely on verifiable accurate information that stands up in court. Indeed, court cases often involve very complex information from expert witnesses and Forensic Science is now a thing. For example, DNA evidence requires judges, lawyers, and juries to be sufficiently versed in biochemistry, genetics, and bioinformatics.

Our world has become extremely complex. Far too complex for our little individual caveman brains to fully comprehend.

We also know that Parliament is not a happy place. Politicians and particularly Ministers strut around like gods pretending to be omniscient (and omnipotent) and prescient. Public embarrassment is a cardinal sin. Politicians are more like Greek Gods with all their fallacies; they are only human! This puts enormous pressure on everybody, especially emotional junior staffers, to deliver information ASAP with little to no time for fact checking or thinking – cool heads do not always prevail in this environment. It is a recipe for disaster. As a side note, this requires loyalty and dedication on behalf of parliamentary staffers who, at the same time, have to remain politically neutral – no wonder things go wrong there.

This perception of supreme confidence with infallible knowledge and intelligence coincides with the never-ending juvenile attempts to trip up politicians by journalists and other politicians alike.

The PM does not understand how the economy works and the Minister of Finance does not know what GDP means and gets his figures wrong. The Greens don’t know anything except how to compost and grow weed. Apparently. National are supposedly better stewards of the economy and they seem to have a rather unique interpretation of NZ and international laws. Has anybody seen Joyce’s hole lately? To all that, I’d say “so what?”.

Politicians are in Parliament to represent us as best as they can. The Government needs to make decisions and strategic policies preferably based on the best available evidence and information. They don’t do quick Google searches, at least I hope they don’t, and have to wait for reliable input and feedback from trustworthy sources (e.g. parliamentary staffers).They also need create and test ideas that are risky, innovative, bold, progressive, transformational …

Ideas, at the initial stages, should not be burdened by technical details. But how often is a good idea in principle torpedoed and sunk by unreasonable demands for details and quickly dropped for political expedience? How many complex issues, such as CGT or raising the retirement age, are taken off the table because of politicians’ and parties’ short-term self-interest? Should we not debate these first before they are dragged down by nitty-gritty stuff with arms going up in the air and screams like “it can’t be done”? It is big picture thinking with long-term horizons versus narrow-minded timid tinkering bogged down in and by irrelevancies and distractions (sideshows) for short-term political gain.

I look forward to the interview in which a NZ politician admits that they don’t know jack because that would probably be the most honest answer they could (and should?) give. Facts matter, of course, and evidence-based decision-making is important too but in politics we need to make more room for value-based arguments and we need to distinguish between facts and values – they are clearly not the same.

63 comments on “Politicians Don’t Know Jack”

  1. Sam 1

    Yknow John Key brought in the morning radio time slot and Jacinda has has largely kept that. I wouldn't be caught dead sharing my time and space with those pea brain nobodies, Y'know? Give me John Campbell any day, at least he knows something.

    The rise of entertainment politics is a cheap trick when you've got half backed policy ideas, formulation and implementation. What a wast of time that was campaigning on and eventually killing your own CGT policy. Like the AM Show it's a total wast of time, looking busy.

    MPs and particularly ministers have to value there time a lot better. They should be the masters of their own portfolios, meaning to say they should read legislation and Bills in its entirety and understand every nuance and every mechanism. And then once they've got a clue about how things are run, then they can begin to run there mouths and trash talk.

    • Sacha 1.1

      "Give me John Campbell any day"

      Interesting how many serious interviewees are turning up on that show now that he's there.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Why modern, highly networked life is much more complicated than we imagine; and why our intuitive, conventional strategies to solve this class of problem can work against us. And a glimpse of the future:



    • Jenny - How to Get there? 2.1

      Practice found that removing a motorway, (initially to revitalise a paved over river), shortened commute times?

      Who would have thunk it?

      Ever been on the South Western bypass with its $billion Waterview tunnel during rush hour?

      As John Minto said, more motorways just get you to the traffic jam quicker.

      Braess's paradox is triggered as each individual driver tries to shorten their travel time, to the detriment of the network.

      Just like automation, public transport networks also avoid Braess's paradox altogether. The benefits of public transport is not just by getting more people into lesser vehicles, but also by being more efficient than the individualised systems that inevitably lead to Braess's paradox.

      Braess's paradox will ensure that the Southern motorway widening, plus the planned $billion parallel Mill Road bypass will actually worsen congestion where they all intersect at Wiri with the Waterview bypass.

      Who wants to bet that the roading lobby will suggest to the Auckland Regional council that a further motorway bypass needs to be built through Manurerewa, (bowling all the state houses in the way) to solve that problem?

    • Blazer 2.2

      Fascinating Red.What a polished livewire presenter.

      • RedLogix 2.2.1

        Yes, she's very good and I've learned a lot from her other material as well.

  3. Ad 3

    90% of Cabinet decisions are made on the recommendation of the Cabinet paper, which is always written by officials.

    Cabinet papers – even if they are just advice – always go through several layers of vetting. Occasionally mistakes are made, but that's what's expected with policy, so you revisit and amend.

    It's the same with legislation.

    The Stuff writer needs a cool drink and a lie-down.

    • Sam 3.1

      Giz a sec while I mix in some Whisky with my cornflakes. 90% of cabinet reconomidations don't win elections. John Key was the master of the wait a sec I just need to wait until my orders come down the pipe from cabinet recommendations.

      Australia and China are New Zealand's largest customers and China is Australia's largest customer making China new Zealand's largest customer. Now some one of the other side of the pacific are saying don't leave us behind while they've been preoccupied with Bin Ladden. Y'know cabinet recommendations isn't going to hold your hand through that one.

      • Ad 3.1.1

        The policies which have less rigor are the ones that parties put up for elections.

        They are in manifestos.

        They can base their proposals on the fully available Budget and Pre Election estimates, if they want to.

        Whiskey on your cornflakes in the campaign, sure, but it's milk on your Weetbix when you're in government.

      • Ad 3.1.2

        Whiskey on your cornflakes writing election campaign promises, cold milk on Weetbix in power.

  4. JanM 4

    Do they really strut around like little tin gods of their own volition or because that is what is expected of them? Same with abandoned legislation – if there's a lot of stuff to be fixed and it's obvious that something is so unpopular it's likely to get you thrown out next time, it makes sense to drop it in the meantime, surely. A lot of the ways they feel they have to behave is our own fault for having unreasonable expectations

    • patricia bremner 4.1

      I agree Jan. "unreasonable expectations"

      Many supported smiley Key and the money, while his lackeys were horrid liars at best, with a support group of reporters covering their transgressions once over lightly.

      Now the clamour is about "lack of depth and knowledge" . Really? When you know how fickle people are and the high expectations people have, imagine trying to lead and convince a parcel of cats that the offering is better for them than their previous diet.

      Some Farmers are still not obeying helpful law regarding Mico plasma bovis, when that is in their best interests. Go figure!!

      Given the uncovered behaviour and the ongoing failure to obey the rule of law in office, the opposition is less than convincing in their current actions over the budget.

      We recognise the machinations of the National Party and supporters by their predictable behaviour patterns uncovered so brilliantly by Hager in his writing.

      Further, they may have kept one tape from us, but JLR gave a glimpse of deals and unedifying behaviour on his tape.

      I see the Coalition as a mix of views mainly in the center, where the population feel safe, with enough forays into new territory to keep hope alive, and a building impatience which will support greater change in the next budget.

      Good Leaders lead in such a way everyone feels that the decision made is close to the best plan to meet major problems and future possibilities and that they played a small part in it.

      It is impossible to correct every bad piece of legislation and to lift every group up, as the neo-liberal system is self protecting. Skillful levers which change direction and perceptions without disruption is to be supported by the majority, unless we choose to become lemmings.

      Self resilience is a set of behaviours and skills people and nations will need to develop, and some attitudes and behaviours will become undesirable as people recognise dangerous patterns. i.e. use of plastic. We need to develop doughnut economics, finding sources of protein producing little C02. or methane. In fact more self sustaining systems replicating healthy nature.

      The wellbeing Budget had elements of doughnut economics. The gamblers and money traders who bet against Boom and Bust won't want that, hence the derogatory comments.

      Incognito, I feel this Government has tried to be inclusive, in under two years they are showing "joined up" thinking. Gazumping the budget will not convince waverers to vote National IMO. They want to see positive moves such as the Taranaki endeavour to move from Natural Gas to Hydrogen in the new industrial sized trial involving 4 x 160 meter high wind turbines to create the necessary sustainable electricity, cleverly using existing infrastructure and workforce. These people are now enthusiastic supporters of the change.

      I feel this Government has helped us see property and banking system problems, over zealous welfare law, bad education practice, prison rorts and a failure of 'Rule of law' community attitudes and dealt well with the unexpected, while building more resilience.

      This does require expert help of advisers and public officers, and when an "expert" i.e. Head of Treasury, gets it wrong unfortunately that is seen as a Government failure, when in truth he was appointed by the previous Government and did not call on other supports early enough.

      If knocking all good ideas unless they are your own continues, and a failure to debate ideas in good faith well the public will get tired of that surely?

    • New view 4.2

      We are not expecting them to fix a lot of things even though it seems they were either lying or incompetent when they promised to fix everything just to get themselves elected. Just please fix one or two things properly would be good.

  5. cleangreen 5

    Yes incognito 100% correct.

    I have sauid it many times that all politicians are lazy and rely entirely on their so called "advisors" and they would be "lobbyists" for self interest groups so we are srewed as the treuth is now distorted by these "advisors"

    try this logic I am poposing today on our climate change and failing emissions rarget by not using rail.

    This rail advisor was a genuine non lobbyist it appears. EY is a senior grobal economist group.who uses wide public input.

    Wake Sean Plunket up, – as he was asking Martyn Bradbury yesterday on the newshub "working group audio show' on friday about the budget, – giving Kiwi rail a billion dollars.

    Sean asked Bomber; 'why are we funding rail that cant pay it's own way'?

    According to this study, – yes 'rail is paying it's own way and benefiting us all at the same time'.

    Question for Governmment. Is the NZ Government legally responsible for protection for the environment climate change emissions, & health, well-being of the communities of all New Zealanders today?

    If so then they need to consider these facts from the study done for rail services to be funded for giving all these benefits for our future. • E.Y. study “The value of rail in NZ”- produced for National Government in 2016. •

    Click to access The%20Value%20of%20the%20Rail%20in%20New%20Zealand.pdf

    The Value of Rail in New Zealand – 2016 For the NZ Transport Agency

    3/ Facts at a glance: https://www.kiwirail.co.nz/news/506/78/Study-highlights-rail-s-value-to-New-Zealand.html Rail contributes up to $1.5 billion in often unseen benefits to New Zealand each year.

    The value of rail to New Zealand far outweighs its cost to the taxpayer. Using rail reduces the number of deaths and injuries on our roads by a net 271 a year.

    Rail saves taxpayers money on congestion, road maintenance costs, injuries and fatalities and reduced carbon emissions.

    Reducing congestion saves $1.3 billion, the equivalent of 100,000 fewer daily car trips and taking 30,000 trucks off the road for an hour a day.

    Reducing carbon emissions by 488,000 tonnes a year – the equivalent of taking 87,000 cars off the road – saves $8.5 million. Improving safety outcomes saves $60 million.

    Reducing road maintenance saves $63 million.

    Rail is also an important and sustainable economic contributor to the regions and links New Zealand to export markets overseas.

    Q&A: Q:

    Why was this study undertaken?

    A: The 2016 study was commissioned by NZTA in conjunction with KiwiRail and other agencies as an aid to decision making on policy and to inform stakeholders of the wider benefits of rail that may not be captured within traditional financial statements.

    Q: Has this type of study been done elsewhere?

    A: Yes, this type of study has been undertaken to help further understand the benefits of rail in the United Kingdom, Australia and Scotland.

    Q: Who was involved in developing the study?

    A: General consensus was achieved on the methodology from all stakeholders including; NZTA, KiwiRail, Treasury, Auckland Transport, and Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC). The study was carried out by EY.

    Q: Why is this being released now?

    A: This study is a snapshot of the value of rail in New Zealand at a point in time. It is an important contribution to the transport debate in New Zealand and by providing this information it informs the discussion that is already going on.

    Martyn wake Sean Plunket up as he was asking you 'why are we funding rail that cant pay it's own way? According to this study, – yes 'rail is paying it's own way and benefiting us all at the same time'.

    • Ad 5.1

      Even if the rail network was split off and put under NZTA to become just another part of an integrated network, and all rail operators could just use it and pay fees to NZTA (as Auckland Transport does already to Kiwirail), it would still lose dump trucks of money.

      • RedLogix 5.1.1

        Rail is delivering up to $1.5 billion a year to New Zealand in hidden benefits, according to a study prepared as part of a joint KiwiRail/NZTA team looking at integrated transport planning.

        The areas where rail is delivering for New Zealand include cutting congestion, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving safety on our roads and lowering spending on road maintenance and upgrades.

        We've let our rail system run down so badly that we don't appreciate how other countries have forged ahead with their rail systems. Two years ago I spent a few nights at Jasper in the Canadian Rockies and I was very struck at the sheer volume of freight traffic rolling through. It was not uncommon to have three trains, each maybe 3-4km long with double decker wagons, all operating in sight at the same time. And this was on the secondary line, the main line runs further south.

        We have a long history of vested interests tilting our public networks towards private interests. Auckland in the 50's had a decent bus and trolley network, but a cabal of 'used car dealers' and their mates got themselves council influence and deliberately set about destroying it in order to create a market for their cars.

        Same with trucking and rail. It's long overdue we put an end to this soft corruption of our transport policy.

        • WeTheBleeple 5.1.1.1

          And in the 60's the government bought rail rolling stock that only went half the pace of the engines to make rail look slow (compared to trucks). Politicians have been oil's bitches my entire life.

          • Sam 5.1.1.1.1

            You see where AD is going different though don't you? He's just like those other treasury wonks trying to save money by selling all the spare parts and maintenance costs. Just saving pennies over dollars.

          • cleangreen 5.1.1.1.2

            wethebleeple, yes and here this;

            Oil power is about 'greed and corruption' and it knows no bounds.

            ''But at least this new labour government has stopped future oil exploring around NZ, more than anyone else has to date.

            Rail needs to become a 21st century transport model.

            It needs Goverenment funding.

            Roading needs strict controls on speeding trucks; – as we have clocked a large amount of trucks now exceeding 100kms on our regional single lane roads and they are killing many now.

            • New view 5.1.1.1.2.1

              Of course you travel everywhere by train where possible and don’t drive a car. But of course you clocking the trucks over 100k means you do burn oil yourself. I’d rather be travelling behind a truck doing 100k+ than travel behind a small car that was travelling at 90k holding up long lines of traffic as happened to me yesterday.

        • mikesh 5.1.1.2

          Also, in the fifties and sixties, we had a lot of motor assembly plants providing a lot of employment. Perhaps this was another reason for disparaging public transport. These have now disappeared, leaving us with a sort of ‘hangover’.

      • cleangreen 5.1.2

        Ad is the spiting image of 'all the trucking lobbyists' today.
        he didnt even read the facts that rail brings financially that benefits our ecomomy so I will send it clearly again to him/her.

        Facts at a glance: https://www.kiwirail.co.nz/news/506/78/Study-highlights-rail-s-value-to-New-Zealand.html Rail contributes up to $1.5 billion in often unseen benefits to New Zealand each year.

        The value of rail to New Zealand far outweighs its cost to the taxpayer. Using rail reduces the number of deaths and injuries on our roads by a net 271 a year.

        Rail saves taxpayers money on congestion, road maintenance costs, injuries and fatalities and reduced carbon emissions.

        Reducing congestion saves $1.3 billion, the equivalent of 100,000 fewer daily car trips and taking 30,000 trucks off the road for an hour a day.

        Reducing carbon emissions by 488,000 tonnes a year – the equivalent of taking 87,000 cars off the road – saves $8.5 million. Improving safety outcomes saves $60 million.

        Reducing road maintenance saves $63 million.

        Rail is also an important and sustainable economic contributor to the regions and links New Zealand to export markets overseas.

        So obvious as he didnt even read the financial benefits of rail, so please dont be so stupid.

        • KJT 5.1.2.1

          Normal right wing response is to look at everything in isolation. Because if it is not making, them, money, then in their eyes, it is worthless.

          The inability to look at things in their entirety seems to be a particular right wing blindness. The "party of business" doesn't even understand the basic business accounting rule. A ledger has two sides.

          The real value of rail, is the cost of not having it. A great deal more than 1.3 billion.

          • RedLogix 5.1.2.1.1

            The inability to look at things in their entirety seems to be a particular right wing blindness.

            It's also their strength. They pay attention to the components and details of complex systems to ensure they keep working. For instance you want detail oriented people servicing aircraft, or engineering structures.

            Every attribute has it's light and dark, it's yin and yang. And it's why human societies can be incredibly powerful when we work to each other's strengths and support our individual shortcomings.

            Or to put it in kiwi terms, yelling at one of your best props because he's not quite agile enough to be a great five eighths doesn't make the team work better.

        • Ad 5.1.2.2

          I've successfully fought for more rail project funding than you people will ever in your lifetimes.

          They've made their case and got $1 billion extra in the 2019 budget, just for their track and stock upgrades.

          There's also the single largest infrastructure job occurring right now in Auckland, for rail.

          Rail is making some difference in passenger numbers compared to road travel in Wellington and Auckland.

          And there's at least one light rail project in the wings.

          Mostly both local and regional and central governments haven't been convinced about regional rail for decades. Before you wave the banner of righteousness with weeping tears, there's more than mere politics to that amount of rejection.

          • RedLogix 5.1.2.2.1

            That's a more interesting comment; yet despite all that experience you still seem happy to discount the hidden benefits of rail? Absolutely as a narrow business entity rail will lose money, and this is a common experience world-wide. Yet overall there does seem to be a sound case that the total benefits outweigh the cash losses.

            • Ad 5.1.2.2.1.1

              Look, everything in rail is subsidized.

              There are plenty of attempts to add benefits on top of the scales to make business cases work. They don't always stack up.

              The NLTP categories for rail are still being altered and tweaked, but note that a lot of this Budget 2019 rail money comes straight out of Jones' fund, not the NLTP. It is purely political money.

              A suburban rail ticket is about 50% subsidized by everyone else's taxed money, and that doesn't even include the cost of the tracks and stations.

              • Sam

                Trains that will get you there 20 minutes quicker than just driving yourself are natural money makers. Regional Trains that travel over the road speed limit is also a natural money maker. And you wouldn't necessarily catch a plane with in 400ks of a distinction if its quicker to just catch a train. If only more passenger rail was a strategy. We'd have every suburb leveraged with rail and every bus route, shipping and airfreight hubs integrated. Kong Kongs MRT has a similar set and regularly exceeds an annual net income of US$1 billion.

                • Ad

                  NZTA have already approved the business case for the Auckland-Hamilton service. And it was part of the Labour 2017 manifesto. We are not Hong Kong. Or Singapore. Or Copenhagen. We are a low-funding, narrow-gauge, low-density, high-cost network making gradual improvements. Wishing anything else is a fantasy best confined to the heavy rail fantasists at the GreaterAuckland blog.

                  • Sam

                    Immigration has also exceeded the infrastructure spend. Regional rail has to be considered simply because for 45ks of inner city Auckland rail is costing some where north of 1 or 4 billion or what ever it is. That's all the money we spend on national rail in one project, Y'know? You should never be afraid to be the first to back out of an ill conceived, poorly put together infrastructure project.

                    • roblogic

                      all the immigration is into Auckland so it needs infrastructure to keep up. also, the CRL project is overdue by about 50 years. the demand for rail transport to (and all PT) has exceeded projections for years. the buses and trains are full to overflowing. Aucklanders know from bitter experience that cars are not a sensible long term transport solution

                    • Sam

                      Immigration exceeding infrastructure is a massive headwind for the GDP growth and property prices. It is no accident that commercial media is pushing this massive open door immigration narrative and you have to ask why it wasn't happening 20 years ago, why now? It's because they know that infrastructure investment is the last opportunity to sort ourselves out. Even Scott Morrison is getting on the infrastructure bandwagon, he announced today $250 million for the Solomon Islands, what a gent. But it's in my opinion that infrastructure investments is the last opportunity for us to sort ourselves out or it will be over. If we don't sort ourselves out we will be left with 6 million people and 3 million dwellings. So 1+2=4, genius. When that happens property prices crash because no one will want to come here any more to pay taxes and fund other people's lifestyles.

                      When you look at this inter generationally things have to happen now in the next 10-20 years. There's at least $100 billion in road, rail, airports and port infrastructure that needs to go in in the next 20 years and we will struggle to fill $20 billion. And the demographic headwind is a major issue for New Zealand's boarder and National Security. We just don't take defence of the realm as seriously as we ought to. Not just because of the War on Terror but the South China Sea has been fished out and they've got some big boats that will be ranging way way south as we speak. Currently RNZN is scheduled to produce 200-300 patrol days and they can't even log 100 patrol days.

                      If the New Zealand government doesn't invest properly democracy will be over for New Zealand, it will be game over. So if you don't want capital in New Zealand that's fine, make it difficult. Why would capitalist want to pay for everyone else to live anyway. This is why I say infrastructure spends is properly the last opportunity for you guys to sort yourselves out. Make better business's and produce better products and services while at the same time insuring that the people immigrating to New Zealand actually have skills that we don't have right now but need. I really don't care, I could happily drink vodka / Sprite and listen to you lot whinged for the rest of my life.

                      Normal people just don't relies in this global economy if you are not competitive you die.

                  • RedLogix

                    Yes it's well understood that our geography makes NZ a tough case for heavy rail. Still my instinct is that we should do a proper job of it or not at all.

                    Under National the trend was to shrink the system down to the minimum in order to reduce the cash burn to as little as possible, but ultimately while this makes the books look better in the short term, at some point it dies on the vine. Alternatively there is a case to expand the system gradually in order to optimise the long-term public good benefits.

                    And over the next decades as the need to slash our transport carbon budget becomes more urgent, the case for rail will become more compelling not less.

                    • KJT

                      Ignoring the exponentially greater "cash burn" that is long distance trucking and city motorways.

                      Both of which can be reduced many times by investment in rail, public transport and coastal shipping.

          • cleangreen 5.1.2.2.2

            Ad,

            If you have advocated so hard in the past then why did you put that toxic statement up there for all to think rail was not worth saving for the future?

            Are you feeling well?

            We welcome your suport for rail any time you show it.

            Kiwi Rail needs the assistance of a new 'Minister of Rail' – and we advocate that portfolio to the strongest advocate for rail being (Sir) Winston Peters, should now be (Sir) rightfully be knighted for his continious 33 years of public civil services).

            • Ad 5.1.2.2.2.1

              Where did I say anything of the kind?

              For a heavy rail obsessive, you clearly have limited mental bandwidth and no capacity to interpret actual sentences.

              This is what is called Signal Failure.

              And of course if you had any historical memory at all, you would have realized that my statement was precisely what happened two decades ago. And failed.

              Worse, you also have no fucking idea about current government funding policy for rail within the NLTP either.

              So before you try slagging someone off, actually do some reading.

              • Sam

                The traditional combustion engine is a massive liability. All those long haul trucks we could take off of state highway one with on the hour or every 4 hours of regional freight. With something like that shorter ranged electric delivery trucks become options.

  6. If David Court is Stuff's "IT expert" he should be aware that a lot of "hacking" is just people looking for and finding the kind of mistake that was made in this case, and exploiting that mistake. We need to beef up the legislation covering unauthorised access to confidential data stored on computers.

    • cleangreen 6.1

      Rail using electric trains is now globally being used to make transport a ‘ first zero carboon transport emitter’.

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/10/dutch-trains-100-percent-wind-powered-ns

      So trucks will become redundant in 8 yrs, say the experts now.

      We bet the oil companies hate hearing this eh?

    • roblogic 6.2

      There was no unauthorised access or exploitation. The Budget palaver was more like some Treasury wonk leaving his documents lying out on a park bench for anyone to pick up. If it's in Google's cache it's basically in the public domain. Treasury needs to look at its own processes and who decided to upload the document to a public site where google's spiders and any other internet user can click into it. Calling the cops or posturing about tougher legislation won't stop leaks or stupidity on the part of Treasury

      • Psycho Milt 6.2.1

        Of course Treasury needs to look at its own processes to try and minimise security failures, but that doesn't excuse the people who look for such security failures, find them and exploit them. Those people are hackers and the law needs to treat them as such.

        • Psycho Milt 6.2.1.1

          On reflection, that reads a bit like the starting point of an "Oh no it's not!", "Oh yes it is!" exchange, so here's the argument for why this counts as exploiting a security vulnerability to get unauthorised access to confidential data.

          If the Treasury staffer had inadvertently published the documents, so that anyone who found them using the site search engine could download them and be none the wiser that the documents were supposed to be confidential, there'd be no case to make against anyone who did so.

          However, the documents weren't published. Anyone who found them using the search engine and tried to download them would be refused access. The person would then know the documents were not public ones. If the person then decides to bombard the search engine with search terms so they can use the engine's context functionality to extract snippets of the non-public document's content, they are exploiting a security vulnerability to gain unauthorised access to confidential data and would know very well they were doing so.

      • RedLogix 6.2.2

        There are two separate errors that happened here; one is that some poor IT sod at Treasury failed to spot a security flaw in the Budget publishing procedures. This was almost certainly an inadvertent mistake and can be readily fixed.

        The other error is that someone in the National Party spotted this flaw and decided to exploit it for a petty and spiteful political purpose. This was absolutely a deliberate and malicious mistake.

        The problem with the National Party error is that it's a lot harder to fix.

  7. Formerly Ross 7

    the Minister of Finance does not know what GDP means and gets his figures wrong

    Can you provide a link to that statement? And what figures are you referring to?

    • alwyn 7.1

      I imagine it is this response to Question 4 on 22 May. I am not really sure that Grant understood what the question actually asked but this is what he said.

      "Hon Paul Goldsmith: To the nearest billion dollars, what is an additional 1 percent GDP growth worth to New Zealand?

      Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: I believe it's about $800 million.

      Hon Paul Goldsmith: $800 million?

      Hon GRANT ROBERTSON: About that.

      Hon Paul Goldsmith: Does he think that the people of New Zealand would expect their Minister of Finance to know that 1 percent of GDP is about $3 billion and that's the amount of money that we've missed out on given the sharp decline in growth in the past year?"

  8. Kay 8

    And when these advisers to the Ministers have their own agendas or are in a roundabout way working for a Ministry who have an agenda? How would the Minister know the advice they are getting is impartial, even factual?

    This current mess I'm caught up in involving Pharmac and a drug defunding and brand switch has well and truly escalated. Now we have a case of our drug safety agency (Medsafe) telling our drug purchasing agency (Pharmac) it's not safe what they're doing- the documents to prove it have been uncovered through an OIA and Pharmac continue to ignore it and persist in peddling their stock response of how safe it it. The Minister of Health is fully aware of this development, as he is the situation in general because he's been bombarded with emails from people caught up in it for several months now including from myself. We're still awaiting a reply, even from someone delegated.

    But there's been no response at all, to anyone, privately or publicly. Like he's just keeping out of it, even though he's the one responsible for both agencies. Now of course he's not a medical doctor and all this research is pretty technical, so some sort of neutral interpreter and adviser is needed. Some of us are of the opinion it's just too complicated for him so easier to stay out of it. Who knows. Unfortunately that can be difficult to find, because as I've been discovering in the last few weeks, it's surprising who turns out to be on Pharmac's payroll in one capacity or another, so it's impossible to know if they can be neutral. This is a very small country. In the meantime a Govt agency who's decisions ultimate affect most NZers at some point in their lives goes unchallenged by the Minister because said Minister doesn't have a clue, and perhaps doesn't want to.

    • patricia 8.1

      Sorry to read your story, Kay. Nobody in opposition who might be interested ? As it seems the Minister of Health is showing no inclination to answer even as a courtesy.

  9. Pat 9

    Good post though I suspect its basis is a misconception…..has Parliament ever represented the interests of society as a whole?….Id submit that irrespective of competence/intelligence/research Parliament acts in the interest a segment of society, the productive sector with one eye half on social unrest.

    Reelection (self interest) goes without saying

    • cleangreen 9.1

      Pat

      The new well-being budget has been enacted now from 13th may 2019 .

      That new act states that all printing of future agendas and plans must now replace the word "Interest" with "well-being and that leads us to why rail funding was so important to us as of the points made in the report here for our ‘well-being”

      Facts at a glance: https://www.kiwirail.co.nz/news/506/78/Study-highlights-rail-s-value-to-New-Zealand.html Rail contributes up to $1.5 billion in often unseen benefits to New Zealand each year.

      The value of rail to New Zealand far outweighs its cost to the taxpayer. Using rail reduces the number of deaths and injuries on our roads by a net 271 a year.

      Rail saves taxpayers money on congestion, road maintenance costs, injuries and fatalities and reduced carbon emissions.

      Reducing congestion saves $1.3 billion, the equivalent of 100,000 fewer daily car trips and taking 30,000 trucks off the road for an hour a day.

      Reducing carbon emissions by 488,000 tonnes a year – the equivalent of taking 87,000 cars off the road – saves $8.5 million. Improving safety outcomes saves $60 million.

      Reducing road maintenance saves $63 million.

      Rail is also an important and sustainable economic contributor to the regions and links New Zealand to export markets overseas.

      Just saying.

      • Pat 9.1.1

        I considered that as I typed ….and am sceptical of both its implementation and longevity….and in all honesty, like our other problems even if functions as intended(?) and survives it is too little too late….but better to attempt I agree.

        • greywarshark 9.1.1.1

          Edited.
          The thing is to do something practical. Repairing or rebuilding railways will create employment on useful infrastructure. It echoes the decision to plant forests in the Great Depression. It may divert some spending and provisioning from the nation's resources presently going towards building expensive houses. We are in a time when there is constant churning and discarding of technological devices with expensive IT program spending often proving to be only partially successful; so inefficient and ineffective. It doesn't make sense to judge spending on railway on expectations from the past century.

          If we can find the money to spend on virtually blue-sky* experimentation on computer programs and development of robots which will have a deleterious effect on human society, we should be prepared to spend on rail which is a proved system which will at least in the short to medium term be of great value to industries of practical value to human life and wellbeing.

          *https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/how-blue-sky-research-shapes-the-future

      • Bewildered 9.1.2

        For bulk commodities yes, general freight nup it fkn useless and would reduce our wellbeing re cost, timeliness, theft , damages, congestion in getting 1000s of trucks to rail hubs, the creation of transport monopolies, the huge investment and subsidy to match road network value and capability re linehaul snd last mile with a negative ROI You ideological zeal for rail and any self doubt at all CG some what dilutes the credibility of your argument

        • KJT 9.1.2.1

          Bull. Long haul trucks mostly carry freight depot to depot, just like rail.

          Trucks only work because of subsidies from other road users and ratepayers.

      • Dukeofurl 9.1.3

        I like the overall these of the study. But some of the numbers are dodgy

        ". Using rail reduces the number of deaths and injuries on our roads by a net 271 a year."

        Most of those are because car trips would replace suburban rail. Where I live buses are still an option to suburban trains for shorter distance trips , but lest assume its true

        Further ".

        The study found that without rail there would be the equivalent of an additional 100,000 daily car trips on our roads each year – 76 million light vehicle hours reduced through rail – and 57 million of those hours were on Auckland roads."

        Light vehicle hours ( cars) , 75% are in Auckland. They dont seem to have taken into account Aucklands lower road deaths/per vehicle /hour. Provincial roads have far higher deaths as cars are travelling faster-less congestion- and open roads are higher risk.

        Auckland had 54 deaths in 2018. They dont seem to say how many of the 271 extra deaths would be in Auckland , but if you really see more than a dozen extra deaths . Road deaths by region are highly variable anyway. Even more so if you excluded deaths outside the hours of most train travel 6 am -8pm.

        Heavy trucks that travel long haul are probably a better measure, as you can scale using existing numbers. A refined estimate can come from the regions where most rail freight occurs. Auckland- Hamilton-Tauranga- Kaingaroa and Christchurch – West Coast plus Christchurch-Picton

  10. greywarshark 10

    On Radionz this morning talking after having received the award was Dame Areta Koopu. Mrs Areta Koopu, CBE, Auckland, for services to Māori and the community.

    Politicians that know 'jack' with advisors with narrow university and management training, would do well to listen to Maori who have worked like blazes to keep their culture alive, their belief in themselves bright, and to turn around the alienation that many younger people have felt which has been exacerbated by alcohol and other drugs.

    Dame Areta Koopu: Peacemaker

    Dame Areta Koopu. comes from the East Coast, near Gisborne, from a hapu with a strong connection to the land they have farmed for generations. Her life's work led her to head the Maori Women's Welfare League in the 1990's, to the Waitangi Tribunal where she was a member for more than a decade, she was a Human Rights Commissioner, a marriage guidance counsellor, a mediator, a peacemaker and a wife and mother.

    No caption

    Photo: Paul Moss

    And she saw as one practical step to help young Maori whanau is to guide them through their family building successfully with education for young parents. This lady has learned skills and taken responsibility in service to her community all her life and is very wise, practical, kind and good-natured about all she has come across. Her advice should be sought and listened to by all wanting better ways in the country for all people.

  11. peterlepaysan 11

    The Stuff writer and Incognito should be running the country.

    They clearly know everything. Who needs politicians or democracy?

  12. Once again, some pretty astute observations if you'll allow me to say so old bean.
    I'm surprised that after a couple of daze, there are so few comments in response.

    I personally think the title should have been "Many Politicians and Senior Public Servants Don't Know Jack Shit" – or perhaps that's all they know. Something's gone radically wrong in our public service, and I suspect it's due to what a couple of commenters on here refer to as 'the generic manager'. Often they're from the Empire – either the white Britiss one or the Neo-liberal one, and they fit within what what Gabrielle Baker sees as a problem: https://thespinoff.co.nz/atea/16-05-2019/the-public-sector-is-white-to-its-core-heres-why-thats-a-problem/. And it's not just Maori that are absent in those Master of the Universe positions. There are problems with its diversity generally.
    It's a little reminiscent of the 50's, 60's and 70's where the Empire came to show us mere colonials the way and equipped us with seniors that supposedly knew what they were doing…. just, just, well just because.
    It's different because everyone has signed up to a neo-liberal agenda and within the bureacracy of the State, they schooled in it. Even some of those that did come here during those decades are now seriously disillusioned with what they see – pretty much a Nice but Dim Tim often enough.

    And what's worse is that the only time there is a degree of concern is when (as YOU note), there is the potential for embarrassment. Even then it's hit and miss. More often than not – miss.
    What's worse still is that with the Politicians, there is an election cycle where the displeasure of the masses can be expressed.
    WHEREAS, with the Generic Public Service Master of the Universe, we must rely on his or her employer – the State Services Commissioner in most cases. (Like the Generic Manager Master of the Universe, HIMself usually, WASP usually, and appointed at the recommendation of one of those Politicians that Don't Know Jack Shit).

    A Catch 22 in many ways, except that it needn't be. Even the existing structure within the State apparatus provides the means, with room for improvement.

    As our Prime Minister said this morning (4/6/2019) on RNZ Morning Report, (to paraphrase) … "Ministers have to be able to rely on the advice of their 'officials'". That, in relation to the budget "hacking" debacle and Mr Makhlouf (or "Gab"/worse still "Gabs" to his mates and celeb reporters feigning authority and their being 'in-the'know').

    She's correct, but unfortunately our PM (as have many of her colleagues) has grown up during an era where the Neo-liberal has progressed from being just an economic agenda, to a religion, to a language and a kulcha. In her adult life, there's never been anything else. And realistically, there's already enough evidence of the failings of the 'Generic Manager/Master of the Universe' and His immediate underlings in the public service.

    The Master of the Universe public servant tells his/her Minister what they think they want to hear, all the while with self-preservation and career in mind, often pushing an agenda that goes completely against evidence or advocacy groups who deal with various situations 'on the ground'. Until there's a major fuckup and embarassment ensues. and this is not about the poor suckling public servant at the coal face, although in the environment that exists, the sucklings with ambition may well progress to becoming a Master of the Universe.

    It really doesn't matter whether its widespread worker exploitation – especially of immigrants, despite extremely well-researched academic data and reporting by workers'advocates. The Masster of the Universe will tell the media and His line-of-command that there are enough Labour Inspectors, and then when it gets embarassing, it'll be 'we didn't realise the extent of the problem'.
    It doesn't matter whether it's suspect meth testing despite widespread concern over its accuracy; or shitty reinforcing steel; or Warrants of Fitness; or the extent of homelessness; or racist immigration policy; or racists within the bureaucracy.
    It doesn't even matter when various minorities within the community scream loudly about their concerns over safety and "well-being" until a white supremacist jumps up and bites everyone on the bum.

    All the poor, dumb politician that doesn't know jack shit has at his or her disposal at present when confronted, is to express their displeasure (behind the scenes), their expectations 'going forward', AND to keep issuing bullshit and spin such as "several pieces of work are being undertaken in this space and the outcome will become known in the fullness of time". And then, of course there's always the "I can't comment on operational matters". Those 'operational matters' are ill-defined, as are 'employment matters', and quite a few other little bits n pieces.

    So, there are SOME politicians (and public servants) that 'know their shit' even if they're not prepared to own it most times. But with a dysfunctional PS, we eventually get to a situation where any government cannot be transformational or kind, and where the public loses all faith in politicians and politics.

    The framework of the 'state apparatus' as it exists, is not necessarily at fault although there's obviously room for improvement in terms of accountability and open and honest government. The way it's being used is a problem, and that probably comes down to some of those "politicians that don't know jack shit", or whov'e been badly advised, or who're too wimpish to more forcefully express their displeasure through the chain of command. If the government really wants to be transformational and kind, thre'll need to be a little more of the "Gabs" treatment behind the scenes so that Joe Public and Maggie Media start to see a little more accountability.

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