Smells Like Stale Male Spirit

Written By: - Date published: 7:01 am, August 18th, 2019 - 92 comments
Categories: local body elections, local government, Politics - Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A very informative analysis showed that patriarchy is alive and well in NZ local authorities. The face of local government in NZ is white, male, and middle-aged. Since 1989, the number of female candidates and elected women has been gradually rising. However, the voter turnout has been steadily declining during this period.

The gender imbalance is not the only issue. The composition of local government does not reflect the population in terms if (voting) age or ethnicity either. All this means that we are not properly and fairly represented at local level. It also means that our local government is based on a pool of limited views and values, talent, ideas, and solutions, for example. This lack of diversity is a monoculture and these tend to be more resistant to change (cue climate change emergency) and less resilient to shocks or calamities. We are not served as well as we could and should be.

Unfortunately, local affairs receive limited attention in MSM; local reporting seems to be becoming a thing of the past, likely because of never-ending drive to cut costs. Only a few ‘newsworthy’ items can cut through the noise of the 24-hour news cycle in direct competition with international media and overseas affairs. We seem to be more interested in our central government in Wellington if MSM is to be believed. Of course, it is more ‘entertaining’ to read about what the PM or the Leader of the Opposition are up to. However, little of that affects us directly if at all.

Yet in our daily lives, we directly and indirectly experience much that is to do with local government (albeit not all can be voted for in local elections). I am not just thinking of roaming chickens and cat-sized rats infesting tranquil little suburbs. Much of the local roading network is managed by and through local government. For example, rubbish collection, noise control, potholes in the road, public transport, all sorts of bylaws, council rates, housing developments, climate change, et cetera, are largely if not solely under the control of local government.

Not only have voters switched and are switching off, candidates also seem to be suffering from increasing apathy. Some elections are anything but a contest of ideas and vote-off (run off) between high-quality candidates as some stand unopposed. So, it will be BAU and although each elected official will do their best it is hard to see how lack of competition will challenge them to be the best they can be; it breeds complacency IMO.

I should point out that not all middle-aged white males in local government are stale; some are progressive and open to change. However, they seem to be the exception that proves the rule. I see some parallels with TS, which has been struggling with finding more women or younger people to write posts here. The ones who do make a unique and invaluable contribution to this community. It is just an example of how diversity enriches and benefits us all, not just a few.

So, how can we improve things for and with local government?

92 comments on “Smells Like Stale Male Spirit”

  1. vto 1

    I thought ageism, racism and sexism were not allowed. Have the rules changed? Are candidates race age and gender are up for consideration then? 

    Or do you simply not have any info on candidates ideas and policies and so just grabbed at the front cover?

    Are there laws preventing certain ages genders and races from standing?

    Maybe the white males are the only ones who care enough and are sufficiently civic minded? Maybe young brown females are just slack and don't care?

    Who knows eh? Toss a few prejuices around eh?

    Who says the elected need to be the same age race and gender as the voters anyway? Don't know that's ever happened in history has it? 

    What a confused and incomplete post

    • Sacha 1.1

      You're expecting every post to include a full 101 of its topic? From the first google result I got, this might help:

      In prejudice people are basically defending privilege of position and thus stand to gain emotionally, culturally, socially and economically from an attitude of prejudice towards others.

      http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/papers/caleb/racism.html

    • Incognito 1.2

      Where do you see “ageism, racism and sexism”?

      The info can be found in the links provided in the post.

      AFAIK, you have to a NZ citizen aged 18 years or older without a criminal record or something like that. You don’t have to give your age, for example.

      Maybe the white males are the only ones who care enough and are sufficiently civic minded? Maybe young brown females are just slack and don't care?

      Who knows eh? Toss a few prejuices [sic] around eh?

      Is that an attempt at irony?

      What a confused and incomplete post

      You seem to have missed the point of the post, which was to stimulate debate, a starting point, to get the ball rolling. Commenters can add fresh ideas or insights and fill in gaps and correct mistakes; posts become more mature and complete thanks to high-quality comments. Your comments appear to be reflexive and reactionary instead of constructive and innovative.

      One final note, I hope you do realise that Authors here write in their spare time on topics that they care about, as ordinary citizens, not as professionals. Authors also write for a general audience. I am the first one to admit that it is not easy but at least we give it a go. Without Authors TS would be a barren place and an empty site. Thank you for your consideration.

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    Speaking as a pale, stale patriarch, snout in trough, taking the place of some more worthy young turk…at least the umbrella organisation, Local Government New Zealand, has made efforts, significant efforts, to facilitate the inclusion of people outside of the aforementioned group (pale etc.) by requiring CEO's to actively petition and advertise for a wider range of candidates come election-time. As well, they've raised the salaries for councillors, so that people other than retirees or those with fewer familial obligations can consider a term or 4 in the council chamber; it's difficult to live, especially if you have dependants, on a councillors' salary alone. Plus, the timetable is cranky and difficult to plan an otherwise busy life around, especially when that involves children. Whether that helps remains to be seen. We'll have some idea following these upcoming local body elections. Fingers crossed.

  3. Pat 3

    Its a certain 'type' that has a desire to be involved in politics be they local or national….and alongside the rare desire there are couple of important attributes that are also important, life experience, self confidence and ability…..all of which takes time to acquire, so perhaps its not surprising age at least is a factor.

    And then theres the wise adage worth remembering…anyone capable of getting themselves elected President should on no account be allowed to do the job

    • Incognito 3.1

      True, and self-selection obviously plays a major role. Then again, confidence is not always matched with competence.

  4. vto 4

    Frankly the young haven't experienced enough of the world to be let near the levers of power. Is why 'elders' have such place in most societies. Has this been considered in your post incognito? This historic fact? How does this get reconciled against your post?

    • Dukeofurl 4.1

      I agree with some of that.  In my  local board area  of Auckland the labour ticket has incredible diversity . Im happy to vote for all of those people.

      Often the older  people have incredible links to many community groups.

      Thats because they reflect Auckland and maybe  70,000 people .  Just looking at a collection of the smaller rural councils you wont  find that,  with many below 10,000 people eg Waimate in South Canterbury with 7,000.

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

      You would need 10 x those councils to have the same population as one Auckland community board in Auckland.

      Thats the problem with  assuming every council  is equivalent  for the population it serves , both in size and diversity.

      • Incognito 4.1.1

        The candidate ticket tends to be more diverse than the elected officials. The problem is that they don’t seem to be able to attract a plurality vote. As mentioned in the post, some contests have only one candidate standing.

    • weka 4.2

      that's an argument for not having an 18 yr old CEO. It's not an argument against *representation across age. Having an 18 year old on council will bring in perspectives just like having an 80 year old will. We need all of them.

      • Pat 4.2.1

        unless the council is to become impossibly large all that achieves is 'one' 18 year olds perspective….which may be as 'pale and white and stale' as the 60 year old they sit next to….or possibly even more so.

        The Irish were trialling (not sure if it continues) a citizens body of I believe a hundred (?) to address set issues….much like a working party or select committee….drawn at random from the community….that appears to me to be a more effective solution.

        • Sacha 4.2.1.1

          'Citizen Juries' are a great way of achieving informed decisions. At least some of our larger councils are doing similar stuff digitally.

            • Dukeofurl 4.2.1.1.1.1

              Not  all randomly chosen

               Convention members were a chairperson nominated by the government, 33 representatives chosen by political parties, and 66 randomly chosen citizens. Meeting over 15 months, it considered seven constitutional issues previously specified by the Oireachtas and two more of its own choosing.

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens%27_Assembly_(Ireland)

              And some issues over ability to stick with it.
              “Of the original 99 members, 17 withdrew before the first working meeting, whose replacements immediately took over; another 11 withdrew before the final abortion meeting, whose replacements did not participate until the assembly moved on to its next topic for discussion.[14] Seven replacements joining in January 2018 were removed the following month when it emerged they were recruited via acquaintances of a Red C employee, who was then suspended, rather than via random selection.[22]

              • Pat

                so even in a citizens assembly the elite wish some measure of control….unsurprising I guess.

                Even so the concept is a good one and would IMO go a lot further in providing a true voice to the great unwashed and be far more likely to forestall the revolution (nod to Weka) than a few diverse councillors/MPs in an unreconstructed system

        • McFlock 4.2.1.2

          Diversity doesn't eliminate groupthink, but it makes it less likely.

          • Pat 4.2.1.2.1

            that assumes groupthink is the issue….they are after all essentially democratic institutions…a measure of diversity dosnt  address the tyranny of the majority nor the influence of vested interests

            • McFlock 4.2.1.2.1.1

              I do wonder how democratic they really are as institutions if their "representatives" are almost entirely of a very narrow demographic group.

              I wonder what the covert barriers are between other people and running or being elected.

              • Pat

                theyre democratic in that majority vote carries the motion.

                • McFlock

                  But there does seem to be a mismatch between the representatives and the people they supposedly represent.

                  • Pat

                    wouldnt disagree with that….and that is why I think a randomly selected citizens council (jury) would provide real representation of views, especially as opposed to the hope that the wider engaged community would provide a representative body through their vote.

        • Incognito 4.2.1.3

          Our local and national politics are supposed to be representative but in practice, this doesn’t mean that they are comprehensive. The current argument is that particularly local government poorly represents their people, that the level of diversity is less than optimal, and that there are no legal or institutionalised reasons as to why this cannot be remedied. This begs the question as what is, can, or should be done to achieve better representation, better voter engagement, and, consequently, better outcomes for all. Unless one would like to argue that this is as good as it gets.

          • Pat 4.2.1.3.1

            the level of diversity may well be less than optimal but given the process for selecting representatives (vote) and the number of positions available then I would suggest that representation by like and proportion is not achievable….that leaves disengagement and the frustration that may lead to undesirable outcomes.

            A randomly selected citizens body as the Irish have made use of is a practical and achievable option

            • Incognito 4.2.1.3.1.1

              If you scroll up a little to my response @ 9:10 PM to you, you’ll see that I agree 😉

              • Pat

                so i see….and yet you also said  @9.09 "..that particularly local government poorly represents their people, that the level of diversity is less than optimal, and that there are no legal or institutionalised reasons as to why this cannot be remedied."….which runs contrary to my assertion that representation by like and proportion is not achievable.

                confusing eh?

                • Incognito

                  Ah, yes, sorry.

                  I’d like to think that we can and must do better within the current framework. You argue that we can (and must?) only do much better if we change or expand the current framework (not quite a paradigm shift IMO). If I have this correct, I don’t think we’re necessarily disagreeing but perhaps talking about different stages of development or evolution of the local governing system.

                  • Pat

                    I thought I was being very clear….the representative system we have is incapable of delivering a representative sample of the communities they serve (that is not to say it couldnt be improved but only marginally.)…whereas the Irish method could provide valuable representative input (and free of vested interest) and it could do so tomorrow

                    • Incognito

                      Yes, you were clear. I’m not reading the comments properly at the moment, which is telling me something 😉

                      I doubt I’ll find time any time soon to delve further into the Irish idea 🙁

    • gsays 4.3

      Hi vto, you raise a good point about the elders and it is a double edged sword.

      I think it is a James A Michener quote – "shut up and listen to my 60 years experience said the old man, so we did and it turned out he had one years experience repeated sixty times".

      We live in interesting times and perhaps need a circuit breaker voice that isn't beholden to nostalgia, profit or the status quo.

    • Incognito 4.4

      That’s a brief comment but with lots of good stuff in it, thank you.

      Yes, I had considered it, but time and space constraints (the latter self-imposed) stopped me from including it in the OP.

      I had been thinking about something along the lines of the philosopher-king at local government level. Wisdom comes with age, apparently. However, I don’t think it is as clear-cut.

      It all depends on the variety and richness of experiences. Many older people I know, who are still fully active in the work force, are very set in their ways and the saying comes to mind “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”. Some folks have been doing the same thing over and over again; their habits, thinking patterns, ideas and concepts of and about the rapidly changing world are engrained, fixed.

      Coincidentally, I was reading this article yesterday: https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-08-17/creativity-neuroscience-your-brain/11420898. In it, they do touch on the age question and there is no (clear) answer.

      I think we need a combination of freshness, innovative new thinking and ways to solve problems, risk-taking, on the one hand, and life experience, wisdom, and risk-mitigation, on the other hand. I’d argue that we don’t have the right balance (or the balance right?) currently.

      I’d also argue that “the levers of power” is overstating it in the context of (local) government. By design, power, or decision-making and influencing rather, is usually practiced in a democratic fashion (by majority vote) with many layers of accountability, scrutiny, checks & balances, et cetera. In other words, “power” is limited and (almost) a misnomer. It is not like handing the wheel to a two-year old although “levers” is a nice metaphor. In the first link in the post, they talked about young voters and candidates below the age of 38. Is that too young? Are they to ‘hot-headed’ to make responsible decisions? I remain unconvinced this is the case; some younger people are wise beyond their years (the PM is 39). What better way to learn how to use the “levers of power” at a non-ancient or -geriatric age than ‘to have a go’ with so-called cooler heads giving advice and mentorship. Let’s not wait until you’re retired and have nine grandchildren before you should be allowed anywhere near any responsibility at local government level. It makes little sense to me.

      Personally, I don’t find it very useful to frame things in terms of inter-generational clashes. Often, it turns into identity politics and reduces issues (in)to over-simplified and/or perceived generational issues that can create problems with intersectionality (i.e. sub-populations falling between the cracks). Climate change could be such an example. The situation at Ihumātao might be another one.

      • Robert Guyton 4.4.1

        Plus no one's talking about the influence/power held/claimed by council executive/staff over that the councillors appear/profess to have.

        smiley

        • Incognito 4.4.1.1

          Yes, very good point, Robert, thank you again. I only hinted at that in the OP with a few cryptic words “albeit not all can be voted for in local elections” and in my long-winded comment @ 4.4. Maybe when power is too spread out and diluted nothing gets done and we stay stuck in BAU and status quo by design – stability and continuity are good. Maybe the idea of a benevolent dictator-Mayor is something to consider …

          • Robert Guyton 4.4.1.1.1

            I followed up your philosopher-king note. That's a whole thread of its own, I reckon. It conflicts with the de-individualising trend though; can we hope for an individual to play that part; if it takes a village to raise a child, what does it take to raise us all above our present circumstance?

            • Incognito 4.4.1.1.1.1

              Love, selflessness & altruism, willpower, determination & sheer grit, faith, honesty, integrity, courage, empathy & compassion, intelligence, patience, curiosity, holistic thinking, wisdom, et cetera.

              Ok, I admit I’m a little flippant but the answer is the same for all burning questions that are the cause and effect of the human race. I reckon. In essence, they are existential questions, closely followed by morality, e.g. what is the right to do? Doing nothing is not the answer although it is an answer.

              Crikey, Robert, this is much more than a whole of its own; it is about life!

              I’ll make myself another mint tea to calm down now.

              • Robert Guyton

                Mint? Sounds like you could do with a hot cup of skullcap!

                A discussion on will power would be very interesting.

                How is will power developed and in what might an increase in personal willpower result?

                But another time, perhaps; it's getting late…

  5. df 5

    Get out and participate.

  6. weka 6

    Good post. I think we will see some interesting candidates this year. Not sure we are quite at a tipping point in terms of engagement, but hoping it will be better.

    Anyone concerned about water issues (lake/river) or industrial dairying, could be looking at their regional council candidates closely and voting accordingly.

    • weka 6.1

      Lol, the Smith photo. Harsh.

      • Sacha 6.1.1

        Had forgotten how badly chewed some of the Amerkin accents in that movie were until last night's screening.

        • weka 6.1.1.1

          with the Aussie to Amerkin I assumed it was intentional.

          • Sacha 6.1.1.1.1

            Guess it easily added a sense of otherness before Aussies were as common in the US screen industry. Unreal that it has been 20 years.

      • Robert Guyton 6.1.2

        Smith: over 50?

        • weka 6.1.2.1

          timeless.

        • Incognito 6.1.2.2

          At the time of the movie, the actor was well under 50. However, Weka is correct that the character is timeless. Agent Smith was an AI program in and of the Matrix. He was also a metaphor, as the whole movie was a metaphor and full of symbolism, which is why I liked it so much – I do like Philip K. Dick and how Carl Jung heavily influenced him and his works. For the current post, I used the photo of Agent Smith as another metaphor, not be taken literally as such. I was hunting for a good image and this one seemed quite appropriate – you don’t recognise yourself or your fellow Councillors in it?

          • Robert Guyton 6.1.2.2.1

            A council of Mr Smiths?

            Not so exciting as that, I'm sorry to say, though it feels that way sometimes. The best I can say is I'm a red-piller amongst blue. Or at least, that's how I frame it.

            • Incognito 6.1.2.2.1.1

              Good one, Robert.

              Candidates are self-selecting, of course, and there always seems to be an element of the ‘old boys’ networks’ in politics. I’d like to think that party politics plays less of a dominant role in local than national politics, but I could be wrong. Whether this is good or bad for groupthink, I don’t know either, but polarisation and tribal factions sure are present, which is why the family photo of Mr Smith is apt IMHO. BTW, the pill was a placebo.

              • Robert Guyton

                Powerful stuff, that placebo.

                • Incognito

                  Yeah, nah. It’s all in the mind, not in the pill or any paraphernalia for that matter; it’s about the choices we make and what we believe in. Much happens at the sub-conscious level and when it reaches the surface of our consciousness we experience that eureka moment (or déjà vu). IMHO. But we’re going OT.

                  • Robert Guyton

                    Placebo though, requires an outside agency to administer something to the client/patient/person and how that is done is a powerful determinant for the effectiveness of the placebo, wrapped up as they are in promise, expectation, theatre and the rest of it. Sugar too. Red is best.

                    • Incognito

                      All correct, of course. Some people are administered hypnosis and suggestions to help them with addictions or phobias. In some cases, it is very effective. Auto-suggestion, self-hypnosis, meditation, mindfulness, et cetera, can have powerful effects, transformational even.

                      How did we get to this? It belongs in your post on how to get there IMO 😉

                    • Robert Guyton

                      Well, I'm getting there by being a regional councillor, proving that there's hope for us all!

              • weka

                As far as I can tell small town NZ is still run by the old boys network. Not as much or as bad, but it's still there.

                • Incognito

                  Personally, I don’t have much experience with the old boy’s networks. School BOTs can be particularly bad.

                • Stuart Munro.

                  I'm not certain about that. I can recall an incident on Stewart Island where the ladies of the town dealt to visiting naval forces decisively without male assistance. And years ago in Timaru, When I was flying through for MAF with more luggage than any reasonable person ever carries, some fool disrespected the fiftyish lady on the ticket counter. The ground crew, without prompting, patiently explained to him that the plane was overweight, and that he'd have to wait for the next flight – meanwhile our hundreds of kilos of gear was loaded without difficulty. Soft power is a big thing in some small towns.

                  • weka

                    of course. Women have power. That the old boys network still runs things just tells us that power is shared unevenly. Imagine how fast things would change if women had access to the institutional power still currently denied them.

                    (btw, there are women operating within the old boys network, but neoliberalism lets women in where they play the game right).

                    • Stuart Munro.

                      Maybe Vicki Buck could give some guidance – the most popular Christchurch mayor ever as far as I can tell – approval was 90% at one point.

                    • weka

                      how many of her colleagues are women?

                      Is she part of the old boys network?

  7. Dukeofurl 7

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/114930238/the-white-male-middleaged-face-of-local-government

    The data visualisation is  not comparing apples with apples.

    The compare ALL the councillors with ALL the population, when it should adjust the  number of councillors with  the population they represent.

    The reality is rural NZ is  older, where  a disproportionate  number of councillors represent smaller rural areas.

  8. cleangreen 8

    Todays local government are full of "Hollow people" who play the same game of saying first ‘what you want to hear’

    Then as soon as they are elected to the 'public cash trough' they turn into right wing zealots.

    And after several years stealing from us they go into another national party election as a candidate. I have sen this for the last 5 elections.

  9. weka 9

    I think it's worth pointing out that the call for diversity isn't a call to not have any wealthy, older, able-bodied white men in power. There's a general sense of inclusiveness. But people's patience isn't infinite, and the longer the patriarchy resists change, the more people are going to be inclined to remove power by whatever means necessary, and maybe have a period of time of rebalancing. Mostly it's still about wanting those men to learn how to *share power, and the sooner that happens the better for everyone.

  10. Dukeofurl 10

    Just looked at a few councils for places Ive lived 

    Napier: 12 councillors plus mayor .  6 are women incl Acting Mayor

    https://www.napier.govt.nz/our-council/mayor-and-councillors/

    Rotorua:  10 councillors plus mayor. 4 incl mayor are women.

    https://www.rotorualakescouncil.nz/our-council/mayor-and-elected-members/Pages/default.aspx

    Hastings: 13 councillors plus mayor. 7 women incl mayor

    https://www.hastingsdc.govt.nz/our-council/mayor-and-councillors/

    Palmerston North : Mayor +15 councillors 7 are women.
    https://www.pncc.govt.nz/council-city/about-council/mayor-and-councillors/

    A few other of  the small rural councils  seem to have a near  gender balance as well.

    Could it be that the regional Councils are the ones heavily skewed to men. They would involve travelling further to meetings and the  RC cover more technical areas   than local councils

  11. Cricklewood 11

    I'm not sure what to make of articles like this, I feel  they make the assumption that given the choice (and if they vote) people will vote for someone in a similar demographic to  themselves.

    Maybe I'm an outlier, but personally I vote on ideas age race or gender of the candidate dont come into it at all. 

    If anything I find the story divisive. I do whole heartedly agree that we should make it easier and financially viable for young people or those  with families to stand for election. Free childcare etc would be a great start.

    • Incognito 11.1

      No, that assumption was not made. In fact, that assumption is challenged in both the post as well as in the first link provided. For example:

      But it's not necessarily the case that older people vote exclusively for older candidates, or that Pākehā vote exclusively for Pākehā candidates.

      For one thing, the proportion of voters younger than 38 is significantly higher than the proportion of elected members younger than 38. This might mean that young candidates get little to no support from anyone older than 38, and thus are unable to command a plurality of votes; but it seems more likely that there are simply fewer candidates in that age cohort to vote for.

      Although, to be fair, that piece also did mention in-group bias.

      I wrote the post in relatively short time and late at night and wanted to keep it short. My intention was to stimulate thinking and debate, not to stuff my opinion down people’s throats. In this sense, you were not supposed to make anything of the post as such, just to do your own thinking.

      If anything I find the story divisive.

      Really? Care to elaborate? I really tried to argue for a more inclusive and representative local government and about the only thing you took from the post was that it was divisive!? I’m most intrigued!

      • Cricklewood 11.1.1

        Apologies was referring to the stuff article should have made that clearer… 

        • Incognito 11.1.1.1

          All good, but I’m still puzzled; I didn’t find it divisive but informative. I would not have included it otherwise.

  12. David Mac 12

    I think we get the representation we ask for. We get what we deserve.

    We deserve Chloe Swarbrick, a fresh young voice that has surprised many NZers. What a mature and measured handling of a hot potato like legalising weed she is delivering. 

    The Greens bring merit, it's a garden that encourages Chloes to flourish. I can see how people like Chloe would struggle to be inspired to share a floor dominated by archetypal councilors. 

    • Robert Guyton 12.1

      She'd find it … icky!

    • Incognito 12.2

      I think we get the representation we ask for. We get what we deserve.

      Although I don’t disagree, when I hear this sentiment expressed in various forms, it always feels slightly fatalistic to me, as if we have no other choice. That’s the whole point of the post, if we are not satisfied with the current situation, we can change it. In fact, most things are self-inflicted or social constructs and can be undone, reversed, fixed, repaired, corrected or whatever, if we choose to. Elections are all about choice albeit somewhat limited. Sorry, this is not personal, just a general ‘rant’.

  13. Obtrectator 14

    One trouble I've always had with local body elections is differentiating one candidate from another.  They all seem to want to run a more inclusive council while keeping rates (or rates increases) below a certain level and being committed to the area/region/town.  None of them actually say how these laudable objectives are going to be achieved.  Often enough, once the votes are counted and the feet are safely under the council table, they aren't achieved.  And the few genuine stand-outs tend to find themselves branded as trouble-makers, excluded from meaningful roles and ruthlessly criticised at every opportunity.

    • Robert Guyton 14.1

      Here's what I said, Obtrector, in the Southland Times:

      "Message to all candidates for local body elections; billboards are boring!

      Hard-working Southlanders, especially those living in Invercargill, have to drive past our uninspiring faces and irritating slogans for weeks on end and are generally too polite to take a black-marker to them to express their annoyance. Let’s all do something different this time around; entertain and amuse those whose votes we are chasing, with creative billboards, fun billboards, the likes of which have never been seen before! I’m happy start the ball rolling; I’ve still got my original billboards that show a younger me with a dark, clipped and tidy beard. Now that I’m 9 years down the councillor track, my beard is full and as white as a summer cloud. I’m going to up-date my billboards by glueing-on a fluffy, lamb’s-wool beard that would make Father Christmas proud! How about the rest of you? Have you any creative bones in your bodies? Let’s do the voting public a favour and make campaigning fun for a change!"

      I don't know if that helps alleviate your frustrations, but it did mine (a little)

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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • Climate Change: Squandering our opportunity?
    The Herald has a story today about the 400 MW of wind power currently under construction. Good news, right? Except that none of it is being driven by policy (instead, its about replacing Contact Energy's Taranaki Combined Cycle gas-fired power plant, due to shut down in 2022), and most of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • Protect The King!
    To Protect and Serve: When the Prime Minister finds herself enmeshed in the coils of a full-blown political scandal, her colleagues and party comrades have only one priority: to release her as swiftly – and with as little lasting injury – as possible. Is this what Jacinda Ardern’s colleagues and ...
    1 day ago
  • The rot at the top.
    When military leaders cover up and lie to elected civilian authorities, the foundation of democratic civil-military relations is undermined because it is those authorities who are entrusted to hold the military accountable to the public that they mutually serve. But this is only true if civilian political authorities take their ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 days ago
  • Challenging the voting age in court
    The Make It 16 campaign to lower the voting age is launching this afternoon, and they have already announced plans to challenge the law in court:The campaign, named "Make it 16" will launch at Parliament on Friday, with plans to take their case to the High Court, testing the rights ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Israel’s elections herald a long siesta
    by Daphna Whitmore The long years of Netanyahu’s reign are drawing to an end. For years he has epitomized reactionary zionism as he oversaw hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers seize land in the West Bank. There are now 700,000 settlers, putting an end to the myth that Israel was ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 days ago
  • Petrol companies promise prices will come back down once peace is restored to the Middle East
    BP, Z and Mobil all insist that petrol price hikes are temporary, “in a very literal sense.” The nation’s major petrol providers are trying to allay customer fears over prices, promising that they’ll move to lower them again “immediately” when the Middle East is returned to its formerly peaceful state. ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 days ago
  • All Blacks unveil boat for Rugby World Cup 2019
    South African coach Rassie Erasmus says he has no idea what they’re going to do about the boat. In a highly anticipated press conference this afternoon, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has finally unveiled the team’s boat for its Rugby World Cup 2019 campaign. In a press conference that went ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 days ago
  • An increasingly shoddy coverup
    The Operation Burnham inquiry continued to question senior NZDF staff today, and their shoddy coverup over their knowledge of civilian casualties continue to fall apart. If you recall, first, we were asked to believe that it was all a series of "mistakes and errors": a senior officer with multiple degrees ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • If we are to avoid making the earth uninhabitable, we need to rapidly decarbonise our civilisation, and cut emissions to zero as quickly as possible. This seems like an impossible task, but its not. Pushing hard on a few technologies and trends will let us halve emissions in a decade:Greenhouse ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • A further attack on transparency
    The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) had part of its committee stage yesterday. its a generally tedious bill about the nitty-gritty of local government reorganisation. But it includes a clause making the Local Government Commission subject to the Ombudsmen Act, and hence the OIA. Great! Except of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Ihumātao and Treaty settlements
    Yesterday Ihumātao's mana whenua reached a consensus that they would like their land back, and asked the government to negotiate with Fletcher's for its return. The government's response? Try and undermine that consensus, while talking about how doing anything would undermine existing Treaty settlements. The first is just more bad ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Protecting our history
    Its Suffrage Day, the 126th anniversary of women winning the right to vote (but not stand in elections) in New Zealand. And to celebrate, the government has bought Kate Sheppard's house in Christchurch:The government has bought Kate Sheppard's former home in Christchurch for more than $4 million. The Ilam villa ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Climate Change: Ostracising the coal-burners
    The UN climate summit is happening in new York next week, and unlike previous years, coal-burners and denier-states are not being invited to speak:Leading economies such as Japan and Australia will not be invited to speak at next week’s crunch UN climate change summit, as their continued support for coal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Jojo Tamihere Salutes Herr Goff.
    Get Back Jojo! The elation in Mayor Phil Goff’s camp may be easily imagined as they watched social media light up in indignation at challenger John Tamihere’s "Sieg Heil to that" quip. Just when JT’s notoriously right-wing, sexist and homophobic stains were beginning to fade back into his ‘colourful’ past, ...
    3 days ago
  • Hard News: A fun but flawed weed documentary
    Patrick Gower is good value when he's high. Not that I've ever, you know, got stoned with him. But in the second part of his documentary Patrick Gower on Weed, he does what you'd expect in a modern weed documentary and immerses himself – first with a doctor, then a ...
    3 days ago
  • Candidate Survey: Western Bay of Plenty – Local Body Elections 2019
    We surveyed candidates on their attitudes to issues facing the Western Bay Region, find out what they think: “Closing the Gap” Tauranga, one of the area groups of Income Equality Aotearoa NZ Inc., has surveyed all candidates in the three local body elections to discover attitudes to some basic issues ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    3 days ago
  • Project Nettie calls on scientists to defend biology
    Please spread widely, and sign, to support science and rationalism over the new irrationalism sweeping universities and institutions.  PROJECT NETTIE Sexual reproduction, the generation of offspring by fusion of genetic material from two different individuals, evolved over 1 billion years ago. It is the reproductive strategy of all higher animals ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 days ago
  • I’m glad I don’t live in Auckland
    Just when I was thinking that Palmerston North's mayoral race (which includes a convicted child molester / public wanker and a convicted child beater) was the worst in the country, Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere opened his mouth:Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere is being slammed for using the words "sieg ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Index of Power Update, 2018-19: China #2
    We reprint below an article from the excellent website the Economics of Imperialism by Tony Norfield This is an update of the statistics for my Index of Power, using data for 2018-19 and discussing what a country’s ranking reflects. The major change is that China’s rank has shifted up and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 days ago
  • Climate Change: A history lesson
    Why is New Zealand climate change policy so crap? The Herald this morning has a long article on the twists and turns of climate change policy in New Zealand [paywalled / depaywall script], which shows where we've been. The short version is that the government first began worrying about this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • What the All Blacks Mean to Us
    The All Blacks have been, for more than a century, arguably the most successful International sports team in the world. But they are more than that; even for those Kiwis who are immune to the charms of rugby (and there are more than a few), the All Blacks are ambassadors ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    4 days ago
  • No one is born into the wrong body
    A short and incredibly powerful speech from a young lesbian woman. No one is born in the wrong body. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    4 days ago
  • Contempt
    Back in June, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that that country's continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful. So you'd expect that the UK government stopped approving them, right?Of course not:The government has apologised for breaching a court ruling against the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Covering up the cover-up
    Yesterday NZDF officials were put on the stand about the lies they had told over Operation Burnham, making implausible claims that it was all a big mistake. But along the way, we learned they had already been put on the spot about it by a previous Defence Minister, who had ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Not as important as they think they are
    Farmers have been whining a lot lately, about the methane targets in the Zero Carbon Bill, about Canterbury's proposed nitrogen limits, and about the government's new proposals to stop them from shitting in our lakes and rivers. These policies are "throwing farmers under the tractor", they will force farmers off ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Behind Every Good Woman Should Stand – Another Good Woman.
    Alone, Alone, All, All, Alone: To argue that the Prime Minister is the victim of her advisers’ failure to keep her informed may offer Jacinda some measure of exoneration – but only at the cost of casting her as a hopeless political ingénue. A star-dusted muppet, whose only purpose is to ...
    5 days ago
  • Poor quality, poorly educated kiddie ‘Journalists’ spreading fake news
    In times of hysteria about the “World coming to an end” and “rising sea levels” so-called ‘Journalists’ who can barely spell words longer than four letters are having a ball! Though the majority of the Public have worked out that manmade climate change is nothing short of pseudo-science, and the ...
    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    5 days ago
  • Chris Trotter on the BFD
    I don't want to give pblicity to certain parts of the internet that are better left to fester in their own irrelevance (I know, a bit like this place) but the listing of Chris Trotter as a 'author' on Cameron Slater's spinoff website, the BFD requires some explanation.Now, I don't ...
    5 days ago
  • Sex is not a spectrum
    The text below is a Twitter thread by Heather Heying that explains the essence of sexual reproduction and it long evolutionary history. She is an evolutionary biologist and a “professor-in-exile” after she and her husband, Bret Weinstein, stood up to supporters of an enforced “Day of Absence” for white staff and teachers ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: Trees, aviation, and offsets
    With crunch time for new Zealand climate policy approaching, most of the New Zealand media have got on board with a global reporting effort to cover the issue. There's one strand of stories today about polling and what it shows about changing public attitudes to the crisis, but the strand ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Pissing-Off The Israelis Is A High-Risk Strategy.
    Dangerous Foes: For those readers of Bowalley Road who feel disposed to dismiss any prospect of an Israeli destabilisation of New Zealand politics, the example of the United Kingdom repays close attention. Ever since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party, the Israelis have sanctioned, funded and ...
    5 days ago
  • Something to go to in Wellington
    Make It 16, the youth-led campaign to lower New Zealand's voting age, is holding an official campaign launch at Parliament this Friday from 16:30. If you'd like to attend, you can register using EventBrite here. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • A founding member responds to Peace Action Wellington
    by Don Franks It was a lovely sunny Wellington afternoon with blue skies above  the beaches.  In Courtenay Place, political activists packed out a stuffy upstairs room for an important meeting. The assembled pacifists, anarchists, communists and independent young radicals of Peace Action Wellington felt the need for a mission ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • “Mistakes and errors”
    Current and former NZDF top brass are being publicly grilled this week by the hit and run inquiry over their public responses to allegations of civilian casualties. Previously, they've claimed there were no casualties, a position which led them to lie to Ministers and to the public. Now, they're saying ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    6 days ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    1 week ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    1 week ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    2 weeks ago

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