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Power’s electoral finance reform proposals out

Written By: - Date published: 2:39 pm, September 28th, 2009 - 30 comments
Categories: election funding, national/act government - Tags:

hitler

The level of debate in 2008

Justice Minister Simon Power has released the Government’s proposals for reform of electoral finance law. Remember, Labour’s reforms of electoral finance law were branded an assault on democracy and free speech by National and its affiliates like the Herald.

There were protests in the streets (oddly, at the Wellington one, most of the several dozen of protesters were wearing suits and many of them were reported to be from the Business Roundtable), editorials thundered about the end of our democracy and National Party shills like Matthew Hooton and David Farrar were given air time to accuse Helen Clark of planning to abolish the free press if Labour won in 2008.

So, what radical changes is the government proposing to restore truth, justice and the New Zealand way?

Um, nothing groundbreaking to be honest. Here are the changes in Power’s document :

1. put in some guiding principles into the legislation. As is well-known, the lack of guiding principles in the previous legislation sparked a civil war.
2. allow parties to use their broadcasting allocation in media other than radio and TV and, maybe, outside of the election period(!)
3. continue clearing up the division between spending for parliamentary activities and election activities.
4. keep the current rules on donations
5. increase the spending limits for parties and candidates
6. have a fixed day for the start of the campaign period but not as early as 1 January in election year, as Labour had. Maybe 1 May. Those four months are the difference between fascist dictatorship and utopian democracy
7. clear up the definition of advertising. There were no manifestly unjust outcomes from the previous definition, just a lot of complaints and they arose from the Right’s determination to make the law appear unworkable, not the definition itself.
8. keep requirement to identify promoter of third party campaign. Remember, this was the bit of the EFA that gave Farrar kittens: ‘you’ll have to say your name and address after every speech! OMG!!’ but didn’t cause any problem in reality.
9. keep Labour’s rules around third party campaigns (eg, spending limits, need to register if spending over a certain amount) but make registering “weighted in favour of freedom of expression”
10. let third parties broadcast on TV and radio
11. New electoral agency to publish guidance on following the rules
12. Keep Labour’s penalties for breaking the rules

As you can tell I’m pretty comfortable with (in fact, quite relieved by) the new rules as they appear in Power’s document. They keep the Electoral Finance Act essentially intact. In reality, there were never any serious problems with that law, the Right just kicked up a fuss because it was an opportunity to brand Labour as draconian and anti-free speech. The fact that so much of the EFA will be kept under the new law is a vindication of Labour’s law and a tacit admission by National that they and their allies were merely playing politics with the issue.

At first blush, Power appears to have done a reasonable job and he’s done it by largely keeping the EFA intact.

Update: No Right Turn has a different view here, as does a guest post we’ve received that we’ll put up later.

30 comments on “Power’s electoral finance reform proposals out”

  1. lprent 1

    Interesting. They are proposing to keep most of the reforms that Labour put in, making largely cosmetic changes and adding meaningless waffle (a Key trademark). I’ll have a look through the proposal later to look at the devil in the details.

    On point 9 – good luck. That wording is simply stupidly vague.

    The campaign period is too short. A lot of the campaigns start a lot earlier, and as far as I’m concerned actually start in earnest about 12 months out from the election. The candidate is the least of the issue for the heart of a successful campaign locally or nationally.

    It is going to be interesting watching the wingnuts from Whale to DPF squirming to show why this is significantly different to the EFA.

    Whats the bet that NACT will try and run this through under urgency and an abbreviated select committee procedure where they ignore the majority of the submissions……

    • snoozer 1.1

      I see that in a number of the points, there’s actually a few different options proposed by the Government. I think Marty’s probably picked the likely options, but there’s still the opportunity of National slanting the whole thing to advantage the Right a lot more at the last minute, which is what No Right turn is worried about.

      Of all the Nats who could be in charge of this, Power is the most welcome. Can you imagine what a Brownlee or a Nick Smith or a Judith Collins would have come up with?

      • lprent 1.1.1

        Yeah this looks quite suspicious to me.

        11. New electoral agency to publish guidance on following the rules

        Why? This is what the electoral commission is meant to do.

        Why aren’t they just increasing funding to that body. It was clearly under-resourced for the type of crap that the wingnuts were firing at it last election.

        That makes me direly suspicious of the composition of this agency.

        • Graeme 1.1.1.1

          Why? This is what the electoral commission is meant to do.

          Actually, it’s not.

          That makes me direly suspicious of the composition of this agency.

          Something to look at, certainly, but I’m not particularly concerned. The separation between the Chief Electoral Office – monitoring candidate advertising – and the Electoral Commission – monitoring party advertising – was really cumbersome (and stupid).

          As long as the new body – to be called the Electoral Commission, I understand – is as independent as the current electoral commission, then this is a good thing. Having elections run by a government department, and the electoral roll run by an SOE isn’t the greatest idea – even though there’s independence in practice. A one-stop shop is a good idea.

          Certainly look out for the composition, but I’m really not expecting this to be an attempt to politicise or hijack electoral administration. The agencies involved now have been pushing for this for years.

    • rocky 1.2

      Whats the bet that NACT will try and run this through under urgency and an abbreviated select committee procedure where they ignore the majority of the submissions

      What, you mean kind of like how Labour changed the EFA significantly after the select committee process, and decided not to bother having a select committee and the public have input into major issues that people hadn’t had a chance to have a say on?

      On all other points I’m in agreement – the hype surrounding the EFA was hysterical and a lot of disinformation was put out there. And National do have a very nasty habit of using urgency to bypass the democratic process.

      Unfortunately the EFA is one of two examples I can think of where Labour didn’t exactly uphold the democratic process.

  2. Oh where do I start.

    1) First the huge difference is the public is being consulted on the policy behind any law changes.You are actually getting a say on it before a bill is introduced. Something Labour and Greens did not allow. They negotiated it all in secret and introduced a bill which would have made it illegal to e-mail someone your opinion on a policy issue. The final law was better, but the original bill was draconian as everyone accepted.

    2) In case you have forgotten the Human Rights Commission, headed by a unionist, declared the EFB so flawed it should be withdrawn.

    3) You have completely missed the fact the EFA got repealed, but with donation transparency retained. So this is not about keeping the EFA. It is about what changes get made to the 1993 Electoral Act. The fatc no major changes are proposed is a vote of confidence in the EA, not the EFA which Labour even voted to abolish.

    4) You shown your ignorance again in your claim I was against name and addresses on election adverts. I was never against them. In fact they have been required by law for 40+ years. What I objected to was the fact speaking at a protest rally was now considered an election advertisement and hence needed an authorisation statement.

    5) You claim the difference in regulated periods is between 1 Jan and 1 May. Wrong. 1 Jan as the EFA had it is out as even a possibility. There are four options for periods being around 1.5 months, two at three months and one at six months. And again the big difference is we are being given a choice.

    6) The proposed changes to election advertisement definition are in fact quite significant. They include personal advocacy on the Internet – changes Labour and the Greens rejected as amendments to the EFA incidentially which only exempted individual blogs, not all online personal advocacy.

    7) It does not keep the EFA rules for third parties. It gives two options (again that giving people a choice and chance to have a say) and if a regulated option is chosen, will have significantly higher thresholds and limits. Labour and the Greens set the limits well below what the independent electoral agency recommended.

    There is a lesson here for all this though. Electoral law doesn’t need to be a bitter background if you have a Minister who deals with all parties in good faith, and gives the public multiple opportunities to have their say.

    You may also wish to recall that the original EFB didn’t even have any extra transparency around donations. That was added in at select committee stage. The original EFB had really little redeeming quality.

    The final EFA was significantly better. Still flawed, but better. If the EFA had been the starting point of public consultation, rather than the end point, again there would have been less controversy.

    [David, treat your readers like idiots if you want but don’t do the same here. micky fisks you below. I just want to add that you were hollowing about the EFB in its final form and the EFA as enacted. Don’t expect us to have amnesia – Marty]

    • Oh can I comment

      The hysteria over this piece of legislation was immense and totally unwarranted when anyone considered the actual detail. To respond in particular:

      1) The public were consulted. There was a full select committee process and people had the chance to comment. There are a myriad of examples where this Government has put through contentious legislation under urgency. The 90 day Fire At Will Bill and the RMA tree felling bills spring to mind. There was also significant movement by the government after consideration of the submissions, something you subsequently concede.

      2) The HRC did say that the EFA affected the right to free speech. They were right, sort of, the EFA required registration of anyone spending a significant amount of money on election advertising and prevented people spending more than $120,000 on advertising. This is a lot of money. The EFA did not ban free speech, it did regulate the very expensive speech. If there is to be a pure rule on the freedom of speech then we may as well have no spending limits whatsoever and let the richest party win all of the time. Our democracy demands more than this.

      3) So we are talking about amendments to a “fundamentally flawed bill”. Obviously it was not “fundamentally flawed”.

      4) Speaking at a protest rally would not require an authorisation statement. Check the definition of “publish” in section 4 and then apologise.

      5) Either have a regulated period before the unknown election date or set an actual date. The parties start campaigning in earnest 12 months before the election. Why not use January 1? The “Iwi kiwi” billboards of 2005, paid for by Parliamentary Services money (gasp!) are a very good reason for an earlier rather than later date. And tell me, why is May 1 OK but January 1 is undemocratic??

      6) So if Telecom sets up a vote National website this should not be regulated?

      7) So there should be no limitation on third parties? So National should be able to set up any number of dummy organisations and then spend at will?

      There is a lesson here for all this. National will oppose and cloud and lie to get an advantage. We need a system where:

      1. There are spending limits on the parties
      2. There are spending limits on other organisations so the parties cannot bypass the spending limits
      3. Free speech is preserved but expensive speech is regulated.

      This is not too different to the old EFA.

      • Rex Widerstrom 2.1.1

        6) So if Telecom sets up a vote National website this should not be regulated?

        Ggggggaahhhh! 8-/ Why is the left’s response to the possibiluty of something like this to rush out and ban it?!

        Two questions:

        1. Why the hell shouldn’t Telecom spend it’s money any way it likes? It has as much right to freedom of speech as any business, union or individual. And if it has more money to spend on it than any of those examples, why shouldn’t it, provided it is open and transparent about it?

        2. What do you think the effect of such a campaign would be?

        If I may be so bold as to answer my own second question, it’d be about as successful as when its former chairman decided to front a “retain FPP” campaign – i.e. even those people who were toying with the idea figured that if that was the sort of company it put them in, they’d better support PR.

        In fact if I were running government relations for Telecom I’d be leveraging parties by promising to run a noisy supporter campaign unless they agreed to my agenda 😀

        • mickysavage 2.1.1.1

          Rex

          “Two questions:

          1. Why the hell shouldn’t Telecom spend it’s money any way it likes? It has as much right to freedom of speech as any business, union or individual. And if it has more money to spend on it than any of those examples, why shouldn’t it, provided it is open and transparent about it?

          2. What do you think the effect of such a campaign would be?”

          1. Because if all the corporates did this we would inevitably have a more corporate right wing country than we have. Some will rejoice. But if we have a true democracy where all views ought to be considered then the views of the wealthy should not dominate.

          2. I am not sure, possibly marginal but any skewering of the result should be avoided.

          • Graeme 2.1.1.1.1

            I wonder whether you’re overstating this particular concern. The change, as I understand it, would not allow Telecom to advertise in favour of National, only allow them to set up a website in favour of National.

            It may have a small effect of the sort you are anticipating, but if the same prohibitions apply as now to paid advertising (newspapers, TV, leaflets, online ads, etc.) then the availability of corporate-run campaign websites probably wouldn’t have a big effect.

        • sk 2.1.1.2

          Actually Rex, it is not clear that a corporate should have the same rights as an individual – including freedom of speech. This is the case before the US Supreme Court now over the Hilary Clinton documentary. There it is seen as a pivotal case.

          Also, it is not Telecom’s money. It is their shareholder’s money, and they should not have the right to spend it that way without a shareholders resolution. Afterall, their shareholders will be both left and right, as well as foreign. (as an aside, NZ SOE’s have more apparent freedom on this than corporates who can be sued by shareholders, think Timberlands and Solid Energy)

          Utimately there is no place for corporates in the political process. Democracies are increasingly tenuous as it is.

          This is a real issue when it comes to climate change policy, when heavy industry is foreign owned as in NZ. How much did Rio Tinto and Holcim donate to NACT last year?

      • labourarelooosers 2.1.2

        Not very effective fisking. More like a bit of mild bullshitting dressed up as rebuttal.

    • felix 2.2

      Marty, there’s a very good reason for David treating his readers like idiots.

      And mickeysavage, “indeed”.

  3. Rex Widerstrom 3

    I can’t think of anything Power’s done, or even said, this term that I agree with and this is no exception.

    It maintains a whole lot of stupid nitpicking rules on how money is spent (the whole “name and address on ever banner” nonsense) while doing nothing to tighten the rules on how — and from whom — that money is raised.

    As someone said over at Kiwiblog, on a thread about the banning of the use of GPS functions on iPhones and the like, National was elected with the expectation that it would get rid of the bulk of nanny statism, not perfect it.

    Regardless of how their supporters might try to spin it, I doubt this will do anything to satisfy those who opposed the EFA on the basis of principle rather than politics and it will come back to bite National when they’re seeking re-election.

    If Labour had any tactical sense it wouldn’t be crowing about a “vindication” right now, it’d be saying mea culpa, expressing astonishment that National had made the same mistakes, and promising to create an alternative policy which created the maximum degree of transparency for donations while not standing in the way of anyone — or any group — which wanted to spend its own money advocating a position, provided that advocacy were done openly.

    Edit: I should acknolwedge, however, as DPF has pointed out above, that this at least is open to consultation, so may be significantly improved. That does not, however, detract from my disappointment that Power has basically done nothing.

    • Armchair Critic 3.1

      Consultation has not been a strong point of this government. I don’t see why it will be any different on this issue.

  4. Graeme 4

    7. clear up the definition of advertising. There were no manifestly unjust outcomes from the previous definition, just a lot of complaints and they arose from the Right’s determination to make the law appear unworkable, not the definition itself.

    The EFA definition included medial releases!

    8. keep requirement to identify promoter of third party campaign. Remember, this was the bit of the EFA that gave Farrar kittens: ‘you’ll have to say your name and address after every speech! OMG!!’ but didn’t cause any problem in reality.

    I believe the suggested change will allow, for example, the use of the physical address of campaign headquarters, rather than it being required to be a home address.

  5. Marty G 5

    Graeme. I’m trying to recall the EC passing a compliant on to the Police over media releases.

    Yeah, you’ll be allowed to put your work address instead.It was the requirement to identify themselves at all that the Nats’ secret backers had a problem with.

    • Graeme 5.1

      1. It doesn’t matter whether one was actually referred to police. A warning would be enough to have a chilling effect etc. The problem isn’t people being referred to the police for sending out media releases, it’s people not sending out media releases for fear of being referred to police

      2. That said, the collection of media releases that formed Jim Anderton’s e-news of 16 May 2008 actually was referred to the police by the Electoral Commission. I refer you to Electoral Commission decision 2008-29, available on the Elections NZ website.

  6. RedLogix 6

    The most pernicious change is going to be the length of the ‘regulated period’.

    In 2005 National spent ALL of their Parliamentary funding on electioneering. They simply did it before the arbitrary three month limit that the AG had quietly told them he was going to audit for. That meant that they could start their campaign in early June that year, months before other parties could afford to do so, comfortable in the knowledge that while exploiting all their Parliamentary Services funding early, they then had a truckload of their own cash to be used in the last three months of the campaign. Thus avoiding any scrutiny by the AG’s office.

    Still didn’t stop Joyce ripping off the rules over the GST thing though.

    A short ‘regulated period’ naturally is biased in favour of the best funded party, because that party has the most opportunity to spend up large, with no legislated restraint, before the period starts.

    The correct solution is to fix the election date and a formal start date for the election campaign itself, no more than 8-12 weeks out. Any spending prior to that date should be counted as double in contributing to the total. Keep the campaigns short and focussed; the longer they drag on, the more they become a money driven media circus.

  7. Oh dear Mickey gets so much wrong.

    1) The public were not consulted on the EFB. They were allowed select cmte input on the EFA, but this is a very different thing. Mickey also overlooks that the other laws he cites had election mandates. The EFB had no such mandate, and the refusal to consult non Govt parties (unlike SImon Power) was unprecedented on major electoral law issues

    2) You confuse the EFB and EFA again. And you are also wrong when you say the EFA only affected those who spent more than $120,000. As an example the FSC’s anti-Winston billboard may have broken the law if it was considered an electorate advert which has a $4,000 cap. Also there was the classifying of personal opinion on non blog sites as advertisements that needed authorisation statements.

    3) The EFB was fundamentally flawed, as the EFA which emerged from it remained flawed. That is why Labour voted to repeal it. This is the law that the Electoral Commission itself said had a chilling effect on political participation. Shame that you still defend it.

    4) The bill which emerged from select committee did require an authorisation statement for speaking at a protest rally. It was (mainly) my highlighting of this requirement that forced a Government backdown at the cmte of the house stage.

    5) You are wrong re the Iwi/Kiwi billboards. Not one cent of them was paid by PS money. You really should try actually doing some research before you invent things. I don’t regard May 1 as okay.

    The reason Simon Power has included 1 May as an option is almost certainly because a significant number of people wanted a longer regulated period, so he has kept it as an option. You see this is how a competent and fair Minister does electoral law. You include options you may not personally be overly keen on, in order to retain bipartisan support for a fair process. This is the part you just do not grasp.

    6) Again you are wrong on the facts. Telecom can not set up a vote National website. You can only campaign in favour of a party with its permission.

    7) I think transparency is the best thing for third parties. If National did set up dummy third parties, then the media should report that and there will be a public backlash.

    Finally you propose what you want in an electoral finance system.Did you bother to actually make a submission? Don’t just whine about things here. You actually have been given an opportunity to have input – take advantage of it.

    • Graeme 7.1

      6) Again you are wrong on the facts. Telecom can not set up a vote National website. You can only campaign in favour of a party with its permission.

      Except if you are a registered parallel campaigner. Then websites you run aren’t considered to be election advertisements.

      7) I think transparency is the best thing for third parties. If National did set up dummy third parties, then the media should report that and there will be a public backlash.

      But parallel campaigners won’t be required to disclose their sources of funding under National’s proposals. I take it that you disagree?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 7.2

      We see on the Super City legislation how the promises before the legislation is passed are dropped by the wayside.
      What chance this too will be done under urgency to allow Key another holiday

  8. labourarelooosers 8

    I guess Helen Clarks ‘little red book’ election spending fraud courtesy of the EFB/A is a holy grail the Labour party and it’s supporters are hoping to repeat.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      There is still the GST national spent on their campaign rather then paying to the broadcasters.
      Never paid back apparently.

      Ask Joyce why he OK ed it when the media buyer Rainmakers was telling him in emails the funding was inclusive of GST

  9. randal 9

    you have missed the main point. the new laws will allow third parties to spend as much money as they like supporting their candidates and running their own campaigns. how democratic is that?

    • that is one of the options.

      Also, that doesn’t apply to broadcast advertising, and indeed, in relation to supporting candidates doesn’t apply to newspaper or billboard or leaflet advertising either.

      And for that matter, it doesn’t apply to the Internet either.

      In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realise this statement is completely wrong.

      • felix 9.1.1

        Where does it apply? Passing notes in class?

        edit: That would probably be a leaflet actually.

        • Graeme Edgeler 9.1.1.1

          The proposal that “the new laws will allow third parties to spend as much money as they like supporting their candidates and running their own campaigns.” does not apply in any circumstance.

          Campaigns supporting candidates will either be banned, or if a third party registers and is subject to a spending limit, allowed on a campaign website.

  10. randal 10

    hey marty… fatboy is a specialist in running sleazy campaigns against parties and individuals here and on other sites. it is in his nature to use all the prerogatives of wealth and contacts to belittle and demonise anyone who might upset his applecart or who wont bow down to his version of kissing rich peoples arses.

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    More evidence that the fishing industry suffers from pervasive criminality, with Forest & Bird highlighting some odd numbers in the annual statistics:The Annual Review Report For Highly Migratory Species Fisheries 2018/19 (Pg 4, Table 4) showed only 4% of commercial long lining trips for tuna and swordfish reported non-fish bycatch ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Controversy? Or Manufactroversy?
    A few days ago, New Zealand’s Minister of Education announced the wider release of a resource on climate change, which was initially trialled at a Christchurch school during 2018. According to the Minister, children will learn about “the role science plays in understanding climate change, aids understanding of both the response ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    5 days ago
  • The emerging coronavirus outbreak in China
    By now you’ve probably heard of the new virus causing an outbreak of severe pneumonia in China. The question on most people’s minds is, how worried should we be, especially as hundreds of millions of people will soon be travelling across China and beyond to visit family for the Lunar ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    6 days ago
  • How did climate change get so controversial?
    An excerpt from the book Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change, released Feb 25. Our human brain is poorly equipped to deal with a threat like climate change. Over millions of years, we’ve evolved to avoid life-threatening dangers like predators jumping out of bushes. We’ve survived by quickly detecting and avoiding immediate, short-term ...
    6 days ago
  • Farmers are ruining Canterbury’s rivers
    Its summer, so people naturally want to go for a swim. But in South Canterbury, you can't, because the rivers are full of toxic goo:As of Monday, the Waihi River at Wilson Street footbridge, Geraldine, the Waihao River at Bradshaws Bridge, and three spots on the Opihi River - at ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Sack Shane Jones
    Late last year, NZ First was caught trying to enrich itself from public office, with a dodgy forestry company linked to a number of NZ First figures sticking its hand out repeatedly for government money. Regional Economic Development Minister shane Jones' "explanations" were patently unconvincing, and his recusal from deciding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • BIG idea physics
    This morning I’ve been having a quick look through some documentation from The Ministry of Education on proposed changes to NCEA Level 1 Science. For those not familiar with the NZ secondary education system, a typical student would complete NCEA level 1 at the end of year 11.  In this ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    6 days ago
  • Revolution in New Zealand? Not Even Close!
    No Fires Thanks, We're Kiwis: For the moment, in those close-to-home places where revolutions are born, there may be tetchiness and resentment, frustration and complaint, but nowhere is anybody uttering the cry that will bring a New Zealand revolution into being: “We have found the way to make tomorrow better ...
    6 days ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #3
    Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... 'It's heart-wrenching': 80% of Blue Mountains and 50% of ...
    1 week ago
  • Britain exits the European Union and takes a sharp right turn
    by John Smith  Britain’s exit from the imperialist bloc known as the European Union (EU) is now irreversible. The crushing electoral defeat of the Labour Party has dismayed many workers and youth who had placed their hopes in Jeremy Corbyn, its left-wing leader. This article assesses these historic events, neither of which ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #3
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 12, 2020 through Sat, Jan 18, 2020 Editor's Pick The Past and the Future of the Earth’s Oldest Trees Bristlecone pines have survived various catastrophes over the millennia, and they ...
    1 week ago
  • How climate change influenced Australia’s unprecedented fires
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections, and has been adapted into a new myth rebuttal on climate-wildfire connections with the short URL sks.to/wildfires Australia’s frightening bushfires, which kicked off an early fire season in September 2019, have already had cataclysmic effects, and the continent is still just in the early ...
    1 week ago
  • Gender Identity Ideology – A Partial Bibliography of Online Coverage
    This great resource has been contributed to Redline by Janie Doebuck. Janie made some notes on the bibliography: 1) It is by no means exhaustive. There are tons more gender critical posts, essays, articles, podcasts, youtube videos, etc. online. 2) There are links in the bibliography that are behind paywalls. There ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • About those biased Oscar Nominations
    There’s been a lot written about the 2020 Oscar Nominations and their apparent lack of diversity. It’s true, there are in fact no women nominated for the Best Director and very few nominees of colour across the board. But is this a result of a biased process or a symptom ...
    1 week ago
  • How New Zealand media reports chronic pain
    Hemakumar Devan Around three million New Zealanders access news media (both paper and online) every week. Yes, you heard that right! So, the potential for news media to shape public health beliefs is common sense. As chronic pain affects one in five New Zealanders, we wanted to find out how ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Still Waiting For American Democracy.
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    2 weeks ago
  • In Outrage Over Its Bunk Science, Goop Finds Fuel for Growth
    Michael Schulson For years, experts have said that Goop, the wellness and lifestyle brand founded by the actor and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow, markets pseudoscience and overblown cures. And for years, despite the criticism, Goop has just kept growing. Now the company, which was valued at $250 million in 2018, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Tobacco Excise Taxes and the Smokefree 2025 Goal: Some Ways Forward
    Janet Hoek, Richard Edwards, George Thomson, Andrew Waa, Nick Wilson Debate over tobacco tax increases has intensified as research indicates potentially conflicting policy directions. On the one hand, excise tax increases continue to stimulate quit attempts among smokers yet, on the other hand, they may lead to financial hardship for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #2, 2020
    Conflation and how to fix it VIa AMS,  Raul Lejano looks at what in a layperson's thinking would be called conflation— confusion and blending of entirely different topics— when people think about climate change. Ideology and the Narrative of Skepticism  (open access) starts with some arguably frightening false connections between the science and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • ‘Cranky Uncle’ smart phone game will show you how to disarm climate deniers
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bud Ward (Image: Courtesy of John Cook) When it comes to climate change, it seems every family has its own version of the proverbial Cranky Uncle. An uncle, cousin, grandparent, in-law, neighbor, whatever. Just think back to the recent holiday season’s large ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Science in the ’20s – part 1
      Outrageous, immoral or downright dangerous. That’s a description of the lifestyle of women “flappers” in the 1920s. Could it apply to science (and scientists) in the 2020s? Actually, you could look back at the past decade and see those, or similar terms, used about some science and scientists. Sometimes ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    2 weeks ago
  • Postscript: Citizenship Granted.
    I am pleased to say that I have been granted NZ citizenship. I need to do the ceremony for things to be official, but the application was a success. I now join my son as a dual NZ-US citizen. To be fair, very little will change other than the fact ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Music: Morales is coming
    It will be no secret to longtime readers that I, Russell Brown, love the disco.   So I'm pretty excited by the fact that one of the greats of the game is returning this summer – and also pleased to say I have tickets to give away.Legendary mixer and DJ ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The WHO Vaccine Safety Summit – from someone who was actually there
    The conspiracy I saw a new conspiracy theory flying around the other day. According to the conspiracy (that seems to originate from Del Bigtree), the World Health Organization have been ‘caught on camera’ questioning the safety of vaccines. Gosh this sounds as though someone was a mole at a ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • The timely death of the British Labour Party
    Below is an article submitted to Redline by Alec Abbott  At its inception, the British Labour Party was a vehicle for the propagation of racist and imperialist views within the working-class. Such views are still widespread in the party, as they are in Europe’s Social-Democratic parties, though, in the case of ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Mystery China pneumonia outbreak likely caused by new human coronavirus
    Connor Bamford, Queen’s University Belfast Since December 2019, there has been a cluster of 59 cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, eastern China. The pneumonia is associated with a previously unidentified coronavirus related to the deadly SARS virus. Seven of those cases are thought to be serious, and one person – ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, koalas are cute – but should we bring them to NZ? Errm, no
    It’s been hard to miss the extreme fires raging across Australia and the tragic plight of the animals – human and otherwise – affected by the fires’ insatiable spread. I know I’ve been captivated and concerned by the tales of how Australia’s famous wildlife has been coping. Koalas approaching cyclists ...
    SciBlogsBy Sarah-Jane O'Connor
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s negative campaigning
    Anybody who looked into the Dirty Politics saga knows all too well that honesty is often in short supply within the National Party. You would think that after the exposure the John Key government received over their untruthful attack politics, the National Party would learn from its "mistakes" and leave ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ending the government’s charade over water
    For the past decade, the government has been responding to the obvious Treaty issues raised by water allocation with the mantra that "no-one owns water". But last year, the Waitangi Tribunal ruled that actually, Māori owned it, and that those rights had never been extinguished. They recommended that iwi bring ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Northern Ireland joins the civilised world
    Same-sex marriage has finally become legal in Northern Ireland. But not through any decision of the Northern Irish Executive or Assembly, which has only just reformed after a three year walkout by the DUP; instead, Westminster made that decision for them. I've talked before about the constitutional impropriety of this, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • I had an intense conversation at work today.
    Claire Cohen-Norris volunteers with Citizens Climate Lobby as a chapter founder and leader in rural New York. Her climate advocacy sprung from her drive to provide a secure, joyful and fulfilling life for her two wonderful children. It has become a life’s mission, shared with her like-minded husband and partner. Claire ...
    2 weeks ago
  • French transport workers take on Macron over pension reform
    by John Edmundson Starting on December 5th, 2019 workers in the Parisian rail network commenced an open-ended strike in opposition to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed changes to their pension scheme. Rail workers in the Metro Underground have, for decades, had retirement conditions that compensate them for the low wages, ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • What a difference the decimal point makes
    I’m back at work following a nearly three-week break over Christmas. We were fortunate to be offered a house to stay in for a week over Christmas, which enabled us to have a holiday in Dunedin and see the extended family reasonably cheaply. But the house came with a catch:  ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • Who’s Going To Stop Him?
    Blank And Pitiless: Having ordered the assassination of the Iranian General, Qasem Soleimani, President Donald Trump promised to reduce the cultural monuments of Iran’s 3,000 year-old civilisation to rubble if a revenge attack was mounted. A breach of international law? Certainly. A war crime? Indisputably. Who’s going to stop him? Nobody.WHAT ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A worker’s story
    This interview is from Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM) and is the first of an ongoing series of interviews they plan to do with workers from various sectors who are having their well being and livelihoods damaged. They begin with an educator in Southland. Due to the attitude and actions ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #2
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 5, 2020 through Sat, Jan 11, 2020 Editor's Pick Debunked Australian Bushfire Conspiracy Theories Were Pushed by Alex Jones, Murdoch Media   As unusually intense and widespread bushfires have ...
    2 weeks ago
  • J.K. Rowling, the Seattle Library, and the Issue That Must Not Be Named
    This article was submitted to Redline by Seattle-based activist Lucinda Stoan J.K. Rowling recognizes repression when she sees it.  That’s why the author of the wildly popular Harry Potter books recently tweeted in defense of Maya Forstater. Forstater lost her job for stating that sex is real and immutable. A judge ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Rules of Empire: Laws simply do not apply and “National Security” excuses all else.
    Empires rise and fall, and the American Empire is absolutely no different. But while an Empire, in order to further the footprint, it seems to pay to do one primary thing above all else: project that everything – everything – is “simply for the good of the world” at large, ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Indian lessons for NZ workers – the January 8 general strike
                    by Phil Duncan On Wednesday (January 8) another massive general strike took place in India.  Some 250 million industrial workers, white-collar workers, agricultural labourers struck against the government’s economic policies and attacks on the Muslim population through new proposed citizenship rules. This ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: The action that counts
    Over on Newsroom, Professor Jacqueline Beggs writes about the action she is taking on climate change. Its the usual list: reduce meat, don't fly, consume less. I'm doing some of this myself, and none of it hurts - but the way our economic system is constructed means the impact of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fossil fuel political giving outdistances renewables 13 to one
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Karin Kirk Corporations, special interest groups, and individuals inject billions of dollars into the American political system every year. Much of the financial support in politics is concealed from public view, as some rules – and loopholes – allow “dark money” and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Animal response to a bushfire is astounding. These are the tricks they use to survive
    Dale Nimmo, Charles Sturt University Have you ever wondered how our native wildlife manage to stay alive when an inferno is ripping through their homes, and afterwards when there is little to eat and nowhere to hide? The answer is adaptation and old-fashioned ingenuity. Australia’s bushfire season is far from ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    3 weeks ago
  • Should I ditch my fossil-fueled car?
    Yes. Reducing the number of cars in your household, or switching from petrol/diesel to electric, will dramatically reduce your greenhouse gas emissions. It’s one of the easiest and highest-impact climate steps you can take. New Zealand is being flooded with cars The New Zealand vehicle fleet is increasing rapidly. In ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    3 weeks ago
  • Speaker: Planet History: Taking Tea with Quentin
    This interview with Quentin Crisp is part of a series of articles republished from Planet, the independent magazine I edited in the early 90s from a base at 309 Karangahape Road, along with Grant Fell, Rachael Churchward, Fiona Rae, David Teehan, Mere Ngailevu and others.Inevitably, you forget things, and over ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #1, 2020
    Supply Side How are we doing with CO2 emissions? It's an important question, increasingly posed to a mixed bag of CO2 contributors who may or may not provide accurate reportage. Liu et al present a new, additional means of measurement based on satellite observations of nitrogen dioxide co-emitted from ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Donald Trump’s strategic gamble
    There’s a meme going around the Internet at the moment claiming that Donald Trump is a bit of an idiot. To outside eyes it does seem as though the President of the United States thumbs his nose at his own countries laws and administration far too often to be taken ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Is the prostitute the seller or the sold?
    Excerpts from Being and Being Bought, by Kajsa Ekis Ekman, Spinifex Press, 2013. Ekman, a Swedish journalist and critic, brings together a Marxist and feminist analysis of prostitution and surrogacy in this groundbreaking book. This is the third part of a synopsis and brief commentary of the book by Daphna Whitmore. Part 1 was ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 weeks ago
  • The climate crisis is also a biodiversity crisis
    Dr Andrea Byrom Like many of us, the summer break has seen me transfixed with horror at the scale and magnitude of the bushfire crisis in Australia. As an ecologist, I can’t help but be appalled at the loss of some of Australia’s most beautiful ecosystems and landscapes. And ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    3 weeks ago

  • Week That Was: 2020
    We are back for 2020! From changes to Family Funded Care, to a record high number of Kiwis in construction in the trades - we're already back making progress on those long-term challenges. Read all about it and more ...
    3 days ago
  • Winston Peters: “Ihumātao deal still a long way off”
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told Mike Hosking that a settlement deal regarding Ihumātao in Auckland is still a long way off. The Maori King's flag was lowered at the site near Auckland Airport yesterday, sparking suggestions an announcement of a deal could be made by Waitangi Day. Pania Newton, ...
    4 days ago
  • Winston Peters accuses Gerry Brownlee of ‘politicising’ Holocaust memorial
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is accusing Gerry Brownlee of "politicising" a Holocaust memorial event after the National MP questioned the lack of Kiwi representation there. The Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem, Israel, is holding the World Holocaust Forum on January 23 to mark 75 years since ...
    4 days ago
  • Provincial Growth Fund to help Waipukurau Pā sites attract thousands of tourists
    The Ngā Ara Tipuna - Waipukurau Pā Site Interpretation project is receiving $2.798 million from the Provincial Growth Fund. It is is expected to boost the town's employment and tourism, creating sixteen new jobs once completed and attract up to 15,000 visitors a year. Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development ...
    5 days ago
  • “Common sense will prevail, not extremism” Winston Peters backs Shane Jones’ pro-meat stance
    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is backing his MPs who have spoken out against a new climate change teaching resource that advises students to eat less meat to save the planet. The new teaching resource, announced by Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Climate Change Minister James Shaw, tells students ...
    6 days ago
  • Violent assault on paramedic highlights need for law change
    Darroch Ball MP, Spokesperson for Justice Today’s horrific violent assault of an on-duty female paramedic which rendered her unconscious is truly unsettling. “Our thoughts are with the paramedic, her loved ones and the St John’s team at Warkworth Station,” says New Zealand First Justice Spokesperson Darroch Ball. “Harsher penalties for perpetrators ...
    1 week ago
  • Acting PM Winston Peters confirms NZDF troops in Iraq not hit by Iranian attacks
    Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters called for calm and diplomacy following Iranian missile strikes on bases housing United States troops in Iraq, but confirmed New Zealand's base in the country was not hit. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) was earlier today investigating claims New Zealand's base in Iraq had ...
    1 week ago
  • Kaikōura $10.88 million boost in tourism & business
    Fletcher Tabuteau MP, Parliamentary Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $10.88 million to boost business and tourism opportunities in Kaikōura, Parliamentary Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. As part of the Kaikōura Marina Development Programme, the following two projects will receive ...
    1 week ago
  • Delivering a stable water supply to Wairarapa
    Hon. Ron Mark, New Zealand First List MP based in Wairarapa The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $7.11 million to create a sustainable water supply for the Wairarapa. The PGF will provide a $7 million investment to Wairarapa Water Limited to progress the Wairarapa Water Storage Scheme towards procurement, consenting, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing consents hit highest level since 1974
    Housing consents have hit a 45-year high, as Statistics NZ data shows a total of 37,010 residential consents were issued in the year to November --- the first time they have breached the 37,000 mark since the mid-1970s. Statistics NZ said the trend had been rising since late 2011, when ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Darroch Ball MP: “Violence against first responders is a problem on the rise”
    New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball says that a paramedic being kicked unconscious last night in an attempted burglary in Warkworth, north of Auckland, is a symptom of a larger problem. "Incidents like this are becoming more and more frequent...and it’s getting worse," Mr Ball said. The MP is pushing for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister Ron Mark asks NZDF to conduct fire risk assessment from defence point of view
    Defence Minister Ron Mark said there was nothing to prevent similar large-scale bushfires seen in Australia from also happening in New Zealand, and has asked the New Zealand Defence Force to conduct a nfire risk assessment from a defence point of view. The defence assessment would help prevent a disaster ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Defence Minister Mark expresses “absolute confidence” in NZDF forces stationed in Iraq
    While feeling worried about increased Middle East tensions, Defence Minister Ron Mark said he had "absolute confidence" in New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) leadership. His statements come as the fate of Kiwi troops stationed in Iraq comes under intense scrutiny. Forty-five Defence Force personnel were thought to be in the ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Minister pays tribute to journalist, author and broadcaster, Gordon McLauchlan
    The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, has paid tribute to well-known New Zealand author, journalist and broadcaster, Gordon McLauchlan, following Mr McLauchlan’s death today. “Gordon held a statesman-like place in New Zealand’s media, which was fittingly acknowledged in last year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours, when he was ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Minister wishes best of luck to those heading back to school
    As Kiwi kids and teachers return to classrooms over the coming weeks, the families of around 428,000 students will feel a bit less of a financial pinch than in previous years, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The Government’s decision to increase funding for schools that don’t ask parents for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • Health staff to meet flights from China as precautionary measure
    Public health staff will begin meeting flights from China from tomorrow, to actively look for signs of the novel coronavirus and provide advice, information and reassurance to passengers. Health Minister Dr David Clark says the additional measures are being taken following the arrival of the disease in Australia, via flights ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • National Yearling Sales 2020
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government and construction industry to build big, lift productivity with Transformation Plan
    Delivering the workforce and productivity gains required to build the houses, schools, roads, rail and hospitals New Zealand needs will become easier with the Government-industry Construction Sector Transformation Plan launched today, Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa says. “The action plan launched today delivers on the Government’s Construction Sector ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Log trains to begin on Wairoa-Napier line
    Log trains are about to start running between Wairoa and Napier following Provincial Growth Fund investment to reopen the rail line, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. The Government invested $6.2 million to reopen the mothballed rail line which was closed after significant storm damage in 2012. “With PGF ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Minister of Defence concludes successful visit with his US counterpart
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark met with United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper today. “This was an excellent opportunity to meet with one of our closest security partners,” Ron Mark said. “The main focus of the meeting was to discuss challenges that New Zealand and the United States share ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand acknowledges ICJ decision on Myanmar
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters today acknowledged the ruling of the International Court of Justice in relation to the Rohingya people in Myanmar. The ruling ordered the Government of Myanmar to take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of acts of genocide in relation to members of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • NZ’s trade aims advanced at Davos meetings
    A proposal to cut “trade and production-distorting subsidies” in the agricultural sector by 2030 has set out important measures to ensure a fair agricultural trading system.  Speaking after attending meetings of trade ministers in Davos, Switzerland, Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker welcomed the joint proposal from the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Great news for New Zealanders with cystic fibrosis
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says he is delighted that PHARMAC has struck a provisional deal to fund Kalydeco – a medicine which is set to improve the quality of life for about 30 New Zealand children and adults with cystic fibrosis. “While rare, cystic fibrosis is an awful inherited ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand least corrupt country in the world
    New Zealand has regained its position as the least corrupt country in the world for the second time under this Coalition Government, says Justice Minister Andrew Little. “New Zealanders can be proud that our reputation as one of the least corrupt countries in the world has been restored,” says Andrew ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Boost for Rēkohu/Wharekauri/Chatham Islands Community Conservation
    Community conservation in Rēkohu/Wharekauri/the Chatham Islands is receiving a boost, with grants to support local projects announced today by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “Rēkohu/Wharekauri/ the Chatham Islands are home to 20 per cent of New Zealand’s threatened bird species and 11 per cent of New Zealand’s threatened plant species. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Rātana Pā goes high-tech with UFB
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt’s strong financial management acknowledged
    The Government’s strong financial management and plan to future proof the economy with new infrastructure investment has gained further recognition from an international ratings agency. Credit rating agency Fitch has upgraded one of its main metrics assessing the Government’s books, lifting its foreign currency AA rating outlook to ‘positive’ from ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Boost in Whānau Ora funding to keep changing lives
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • More people getting into work
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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Wairoa gets up to $6.1m to rebuild heart of CBD
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing up to $6.1 million to revitalise business and tourism opportunities in Wairoa, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. The PGF is funding: Up to $4.8 million for the Wairoa Integrated Business and Tourism Facility Up to $960,000 for the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Major Events support for creative and cultural events
    Creative and cultural events that highlight New Zealand’s diverse culture and build national pride are set to get a funding boost through the Major Events Fund, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford said today. The new Creative and Cultural Events Incubator, which is funded through the Major Events Fund, will open ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Classroom internet in hundreds of schools to get a boost
    The Government has begun a massive IT upgrade to provide more seamless internet access to 200 schools around the country. Te Mana Tūhono – Technology in Schools work programme will launch with a pilot of 10 smaller state schools early this year. IT equipment that gives students access to the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Construction workforce, apprenticeships hit record highs
    Working with industry and committing to rebuild New Zealand’s infrastructure has produced a record high number of Kiwis working in the construction industry and learning trades, says Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa. New figures available today from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Tertiary Education ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ concludes digital economy trade talks with Singapore and Chile
    A new trade agreement concluded today helps New Zealand exporters and consumers take advantage of opportunities from digital trade.    Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker together with Chile’s Vice Minister of Trade Rodrigo Yañez and Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, have announced conclusion of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • Provincial Growth Fund to fund Waipukurau cultural development and tourism
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