Some policy coverage, too much to ask?

Written By: - Date published: 11:16 am, July 15th, 2008 - 62 comments
Categories: Media - Tags:

Yesterday, Tracy Watkins wrote something I found a little confusing – “National is winning the war over wages and the price of cheese”. I’m wondering in what way National is winning on wages and food prices.

It’s not in terms of policy. National doesn’t have a policy on raising wages or lowering food prices. Indeed, its only labour policy is the 90 day no rights policy which will, at best, help some bad employers keep down the cost of hiring vulnerable workers.

Probably, Watkins means National is winning in public perception on wages and the price of cheese. I would be fascinated to see the evidence, the survey question or whatever. I suspect, actually, that this is a case of a journalist deciding what the public perception is based on their own feelings and then telling the public ‘this is what everyone thinks’.

Journos have a lot of power, they decide what stories get covered and what angles are taken. They need to be conscious of the fact that they are the public debate on issues – when a journo on Sunrise recently exclaimed ‘nobody’s interested in policy anymore!’ she was really saying ‘very little political coverage deals in policy’. Journos need to be careful that they don’t slip from explaining politics to people into telling people how they feel about politics and leaving the substantive information out. Not only does it not help people understand the major issues of the day but people are turned off by this ‘politics of politics’ coverage where journalists’ assumptions of public perception are all that matters.

We’ve had two really important policy announcements in the last couple of weeks – the privatisation of ACC and the 90 day no rights policy. Both would affect hundreds of thousands of Kiwis each year if they became reality. Perhaps we could see some real analysis of what they would mean for Kiwis so we can make an informed decision on whether to support them or not.

62 comments on “Some policy coverage, too much to ask?”

  1. Cue righties (and Lew) running “perception is all that matters” lines…

  2. Steve: Just did a comparison of the last time education policy was updated by Labour & National via their respective websites. ( see policy.net.nz for relevant links). Labours policy was last updated in 2005, Nationals was last updated April 10, 2008.

    So it looks like National is really winning the policy war not Labour.

  3. I see you are already linkwhoring for Bernard’s policy site. Given his track record as a partisan hack do you really think anyone will bother clicking through?

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    Heh.

    I was gonna click through ‘sod, but I thought to myself:

    “Self, Bryan posted the link. It will be to Bernard”

    And thus saved my forehead from a slap.

  5. James Kearney 5

    Thanks for the link Spondre but Hickey’s policy.net.nz doesn’t seem to live up to its claims of non-partisanship. From the front page-

    Democracy under attack: The new Electoral Finance Act has now been passed into law. Its effect is to seriously advantage the incumbent governing party and disadvantage challengers. You can read all about this issue here >>>

    Cue link to Herald fearmongering…

  6. J 6

    “Cue righties (and Lew) running “perception is all that matters’ lines ”

    Isn’t that why no one at the standard is covering the Peters-Glenn Issue. If it’s not on the radar then it doesn’t exist and therefore is not a problem.

    [Tane: SP wrote about it here, the day the story broke. How about you do some bloody research for a change instead of coming on here and making a spectacle of your ignorance?]

  7. Lew 7

    Sod: You know me so well. Thanks for not explicitly bracketing me with the righties, though.

    Steve’s right, there’s a feedback loop in place here. I think he overestimates its importance, though. If people want it why wouldn’t the media provide it? And if people don’t, why would they?

    Key’s continued popularity demonstrates people don’t. Until they do, expect nothing to change.

    L

  8. Robinsod: So now that you have vented, can we get back to the topic. Are you disputing that Nationals policy (according to their respective website) is far more recent than Labours ?

  9. Bryan. The Government releases education and other policy all the time. When you’re in power, you announce policy via government and put it into action, not via your party website.

  10. Steve: Thanks, so that means those government websites need authorisation statements by the Labour party financial agent under the EFA and their cost should be included the Labour Party spending cap. I appreciate you pointing this out to me, I’ll let DPF know.

  11. mike 11

    perception is all that matters.

    Cheers for that link Bryan

  12. T-rex 12

    Are you taking pills to suppress your chronic stupidity Bryan? It might help.

    Dear Helper Monkey,

    If you smack Bryan in the head with the keyboard I’ll give you 4 bananas.

  13. T-rex 13

    5 Bananas if you leave ‘qwerty’ imprinted in his cheek and make crazy monkey noises.

  14. Just checked the Min of Edu website: http://www.minedu.govt.nz/ and it doesn’t have an authorisation statement from the financial agent of the NZ Labour Party. The plot thickens!!!

  15. T-rex 15

    Ok people, we really need to band together to bring a few more bananas to bear on this problem…

  16. Felix 16

    Thickens.

    ‘Nuff said.

  17. Matthew Pilott 17

    Bryan, if the policy is current government policy I somehow doubt that it requires authorisation (you know, Government versus Party, connect a few dots). I honestly don’t know whether you’re trying to be stupid or not. I’ll be charitable and guess you’re just having a bit of fun (but I will retain a sneaking sense you actually think you’re being clever).

  18. Bryan. Please try to write something intelligent for once.

    Mike. shallow world you must live in.

  19. T Rex: “5 Bananas if you leave ‘qwerty’ imprinted in his cheek and make crazy monkey noises.”

    I see you have been to the same workshop at the Auckland University Owen Glenn Business School where Helen Clark developed the “Diddums’ debate response.

  20. Ari 20

    Tracy Watkins has long been giving National a free ride, and numerous letters to the editor about her were apparently “noted”. She also has a tendency to completely ignore anything productive done by minor parties- probably because she thinks of them as annoying distractions.

    It’s part of the reason I’ve largely stopped reading the Dom Post.

  21. Bryan. You make no effort to engage in intelligent debate, don’t be surprised if commentators respond by simply making fun of your apparent stupidity.

    But if you keep on threadjacking and bringing down the tone of threads with silly, attention-seeking comments, you’ll be asked to leave.

  22. T Rex – I’ll see your 5 bananas and raise you a bag of peanuts…

  23. Matthew: “Bryan, if the policy is current government policy I somehow doubt that it requires authorisation (you know, Government versus Party, connect a few dots).”

    You mean the same dots that Michael Cullen & Treasury connected below and determined that the distinction is not clear:

    “All references to a “Labour-led Government” were deleted from the Government’s press releases on the Budget for fear of breaching the Electoral Finance Act.

    Finance Minister Michael Cullen confirmed yesterday that on the basis of legal advice the term which has peppered Budget press statements in previous years was dropped.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz

  24. Steve:”You make no effort to engage in intelligent debate,”

    So this from DR is the standard of debate you expect :

    “T Rex – I’ll see your 5 bananas and raise you a bag of peanuts ” ?

  25. Anita 25

    National is winning the war over wages and the price of cheese.

    They are doing an extraordinarily good job of hearing and amplifying the feelings of New Zealanders – I listen to Key et al and I know that they think it would be nice if I was paid more (just like me!) and that they’re sad that cheese is expensive (just like me!). See, they’re lovely people who really understand where I’m coming from.

    There are two strands of this approach that are worth examining in a little more detail

    1) To what extent are they creating and/or overamplifying these feelings (a la Crosby/Textor – note the obligatory reference 🙂 )? While everyone always would like to be paid more, have they made the issue bigger than it would otherwise be (politics of envy anyone?)?

    It seems to me that the “Nanny State” issue is clearly both created and then amplified by the right, it’s a transplant from right-wing campaigns all over the world and fits neatly into the script about “capture by special interests”.

    2) Why are people willing to vote for people who, while lovely empathetic people-like-me, don’t actually have a solution for the complaints they’re echoing?

    (The guy behind me on the bus this morning thought that it would be nice if everyone was paid more and if cheese was less expensive, but I’m not gonna vote for him as he didn’t have a plan to make it better.)

    So, if these are the tactics – creating and amplifying anxieties, and being empathetic but content-free – why are they working?

  26. Tracy Watkins rarely says anything I find useful or interesting. I find reality more engaging and verifiable facts more useful.

    The same applies to much of the editorial content of the DomPost. I suppose I should still read them so that I know what the latest National party spin-drift and talking points are. Not much use otherwise if you actually want to know what is going on.

  27. mike 27

    “T Rex – I’ll see your 5 bananas and raise you a bag of peanuts ‘

    Bryan, the currency of the left has it’s roots in Stalinist Russia – things were pretty tight then..

  28. Matthew Pilott 28

    How is that not clear Bryan? It said Labour led government so they decided to remove those references.

    Last I checked, it didn’t say “Labour Led Government” on that Ministry of Education website you mentioned in any document published after the FEA.

    And you wonder why people want your monkey to hit you. All I can say is it’s a shame that other people are condecending to reduce the debate to your level.

    Let me put it this way – we all know you’re being an idiot here, but if you need to prove it for yourself please feel free to make a submission to the Electoral Commission, and stop wasting our time.

  29. Matthew Pilott 29

    mike – you’re right, Soviet Russia was a paradise where bananas grew by the roadside, and peanuts could be fed to Capitalist-Roaders because the good protein sources were reserved for true Party people.

  30. Hey mike – the only one here getting paid peanuts is you. And rightly so – stop stealing your employer’s time and get back to work.

  31. insider 31

    Reminds me of a scene from “Whoops Apocalypse’ in the 1980s where the leader of Russia welcomes a Westerner with (something along the lines of)

    “Here have some ‘prime Russian steak. In Russia we have dozens of such steaks. But Russian people prefer to eat salt.’

  32. Scribe 32

    Anita,

    Thanks for actually addressing the topic. I thought I was going to read the 30 advertised comments and leave much dumber than when I arrived. (I know, most thought that nigh impossible.)

    Watkins said “National is winning the war over wages and the price of cheese’ and Steve said she said that because “Probably, Watkins means National is winning in public perception on wages and the price of cheese”.

    Correct. The economy is the biggest issue facing the country, and because of international factors, Labour is being punished for being the government in power during the downturn. Them’s the breaks.

    And as far as surveys or questions, the polls are the indication that National is winning in public perception. And, at the end of the day, that looks like it will decide who wins in NZ — and quite possibly in the US — this year.

  33. I though Tax Cuts were the biggest issue facing the country? I’m certain it was Tax Cuts. Are you sure it’s not Tax Cuts???

    If National plays up the economy they are going to have to start talking what they would do to help it at some stage. Very dangerous indeed…

  34. Anita 34

    Scribe,

    I agree re Labour being punished for being in charge during the downturn, but… 🙂

    Firstly, this is very clearly an external downturn over which Labour has no control. People, that I talk to anyway, don’t attribute high international oil, dairy or grain prices to Labour, and don’t think that Labour could actually do anything to change them. So why think that National would/could make a difference to them?

    Secondly, is the downturn really that bad? I totally get that peak oil hurts, and that it will keep hurting because it’s forcing us to change how we live, but inflation at 4% is not actually a screaming disaster, wages are at least close to keeping up (particularly in unionised workplaces many of whom are, on aggregrate, ahead of inflation over the last nine years).

    High interest rates suck (oh how very much they suck!), but they’re also not a screaming disaster and there are clear signals they’ll come down soon (in fact haven’t some of the longer term fixed rates already started?). My house isn’t going to keep being worth ~$30k more every year, but how realistic would I have been to think that would continue?

    So… is the downturn as bad as National says it is? Have they actually created some of this panic? Last election we were talking about National creating a strategic deficit, this time around should be be talking about a strategic downturn in confidence?

  35. Daveski 35

    Elections 30 years ago were a lot simpler and more direct. Policies and personalities.

    I have some sympathy with Labour/left and agree that there isn’t a lot of substantial policies to critique.

    However, this is not the first time that SP has played “where’s the beef?” and the answer is the same.

    Once Helen tells us when the election will be, it will then force National to show its hand.

    Until then, National would be crazy to do anything else.

    That’s smart politics – something Labour used to do better than National.

    Right now, the bleating about how National’s strategies is like NZers previous aversion to winning rugby via a drop goal when the rest of the world simply says look at the scoreboard.

    And p-lease – this is NOT anti-democratic.

    So the answer is simple. Set a date for the election and then demand policy.

  36. Anita 36

    ‘sod

    They’re going to help the economy with tax cuts – dummy! 🙂

  37. Quoth the Raven 37

    National is winning the war over wages just like when John Key said “We would love to see wages drop.”

  38. Scribe 38

    Anita,

    You’re right — mostly. Labour couldn’t do anything to stop the economy going in the tank. Part of the problem is that people have ADHD in this country (and many others).

    Things have been going relatively well economically for several years (and on a large scale, maybe 20 years), and they don’t know about the cyclical nature of economies. [And climate, but that’s another story 😉 ]

    Your points are valid on “how bad is it really?” But the simple fact is most people still need to fill their car (much more expensive), pay their mortgage (much higher repayments), pay more power etc (much more expensive) and buy groceries (much more expensive).

    Sure, New Zealand is a well-off country by world standards, and we don’t need those extra packets of Tim Tams and tubs of Movenpick, but we used to be able to buy them and now we can’t.

    Couple that will enough wailing and gnashing of teeth from National and Labour is 20+ points behind in basically every poll.

    I’m not saying it’s fair or justified, but it’s the reality right now, four months or so from an election.

    Oh, and I second Daveski’s call for the announcement of an election date. Then the jousting will really begin.

  39. Pascal's bookie 39

    I’m picking that all these well meaning folk that are predicitng an avalanche of policy from the Nat’s when an election date is announced will:

    1)be disappointed
    2)find another excuse
    3)claim that soundbites are policy. (honest, that’s a policy is got aspiration in it, why do you hate aspiration!?)

    I’m also guessing that journo’s will fall for 2) and 3).

    I will love to be wrong.

  40. Anita 40

    daveski,

    So the answer is simple. Set a date for the election and then demand policy.

    So, if Clark came out today and announced the election date was to be the 15th November National would start releasing lots of policies next week?

    What I reckon is that National would still trickle out one or two every now and then for the next couple of months, then open the flood gates in October, withholding a couple of beauties for the first week of November.

    Their game plan would change if Clark brought the date forward, but National are currently playing their 8/15 November game, which doesn’t have many serious policy releases in July.

    BTW I’m in bad-internet-connection-land today – can someone remind me the rules for PreFU – when can we expect that? I think that’s the real trigger for most of the National policy announcements.

  41. Anita 41

    PrEFU – from the Public Finance Act

    26T Pre-election economic and fiscal update

    (1) The Minister must, not earlier than 30 working days, nor later than 20 working days, before the day appointed as polling day in relation to any general election of members of the House of Representatives, arrange to be published a pre-election economic and fiscal update prepared by the Treasury.

    (4) If the day of the dissolution of Parliament is less than 30 working days before the day appointed as polling day in relation to the general election of members of the House of Representatives, the Minister must arrange for the pre-election economic and fiscal update required under this section to be published not later than 10 working days after the day of the dissolution of Parliament.

    So if National uses PrEFU as a reason to not release major policies we’ve got a long wait.

  42. Lew 42

    PB: Wouldn’t the question of whether a policy has aspiration be a matter of how it was pronounced?

    Suffering succotash!

    L

  43. Pascal's bookie 43

    Lew: heh. Full marks.

  44. Anita 44

    Scribe,

    Sure, New Zealand is a well-off country by world standards, and we don’t need those extra packets of Tim Tams and tubs of Movenpick, but we used to be able to buy them and now we can’t.

    Did we used to be able to? Seriously, even if the golden days of um… 2007? … we couldn’t buy everything we wanted, and we can’t now.

    I totally agree that for the poorest the gap between what they need and what they can buy is bigger than it was before oil, dairy and grain all went up across the world. That is a critical problem which needs addressing right now.

    But for the upper working class and middle class (the Aussie battler Key is targetting) is it actually harder? Perhaps we have as much as we always did, we just want more, or are being told that we’re entitled to more, or are being told we’re not getting all we deserve

    Is the gap National keep talking about real, or an illusion created in a cynical echo chamber which exploits the politics of envy?

  45. J 45

    “Tane: SP wrote about it here, the day the story broke. How about you do some bloody research for a change instead of coming on here and making a spectacle of your ignorance?]”

    Must of hit a nerve there.

    Given that Peters-Glenn saga has been the subject of editorials while the writers here want to avoid the subject it does suggest that labour will suffer embarassment over the issue. Thats going to be the real spectacle tane

    [Tane: Na, I just get sick of ignorant righties coming on here demanding we cover something that we’ve already covered. We may blog on it again in future as the story develops, but as with anything it’ll be up to whether individual writers have the time or can be bothered.]

  46. j – it’s “must have hit a nerve there”. Points for trying though…

  47. Robinsod: Dylan, I see your inner teacher still shines through. How generous of you.

  48. Tane 48

    Bryan, stop being a creep. Robinsod has chosen to use a pseudonym and that’s his own business. Keep this up and I’ll ban you.

  49. Scribe 49

    Anita,

    But for the upper working class and middle class (the Aussie battler Key is targetting) is it actually harder?

    I’d consider myself middle class and I’d say things are substantially tougher for me now that it was one or two or three years ago.

    Is the gap National keep talking about real, or an illusion created in a cynical echo chamber which exploits the politics of envy?

    The gap is real, though exaggerated for political gain, I suspect.

    But if any party is exploiting the politics of envy, it certainly isn’t National. “Rich prick”. Omaha bach. Hawaii. All attempts to gain political points because John Key happens to have made a lot of money in the private sector (after growing up in a lower- to lower-middle-class home).

  50. Tane: point taken.

    Anita:”Is the gap National keep talking about real, or an illusion created in a cynical echo chamber which exploits the politics of envy?”

    I think the real practitioners of the “politics of envy” were outed when Michael Cullen used those immortal words : “rich prick”. Now while John Key really is rich, those unfortunate words disenfranchised all of those caught up by the “rich prick” tax rate who aren’t by any definition rich.

    Labours income transfer policies (like WFOPF) don’t really hurt John Key and his cohorts, they do however cause considerable pain and annoyance to those who are merely “rich pricks” in the eyes of the treasurer.

  51. Anita 51

    Scribe,

    I’d consider myself middle class and I’d say things are substantially tougher for me now that it was one or two or three years ago.

    Do you think that’s petrol prices or something else?

    I don’t drive, so I’m an odd case, but I’m definitely middle class :). It doesn’t feel so much harder than it did 3 years ago. Sure some things are more expensive, but I earn more than I did back then.

    My general sense is that people who don’t drive much or at all, or people who have kept their transport costs constant by changing from cars to public transport/bikes/feet/scooters/smaller-cars are not feeling the pinch.

    Oh, while I remember – Key came from a very middle class family (business owners), they did fall on hard times for a while, so for some of his childhood it was a low income middle class family.

  52. Anita 52

    Scribe & Bryan,

    The Politics of Envy

    Two cases:

    1) That man over there is rich – you shouldn’t trust/like/vote-for him!

    2) Those people on the telly have more than you do, you shouldn’t trust/like/vote-for the people stopping you having as much as the people on the telly!

  53. J 53

    Tane, since you obviously don’t think that the possible corruption and the blatant lying of a minister of the crown or sleazy money politics is an issue where financial backers and politican in question are labour allies then it certainly puts into doubt your claim about writing on it when you have the time. Lame.

    PS No posts on the Labour leak of Derek Fox violence against women. As several writers here proclaim to be supporters of minor left parties the lack of posts seems to suggest a toeing of the labour party line.

    I didn’t take seriously all that talk from kiwiblog about the standard being run from the 9th floor but the standard is silent when they should be addressing these issues instead of blogging about train manufacture, which leads one to suspect….

    [Tane: J, we simply don’t see any point in wasting our time on each mini-scandal of the week. We do criticise government policy on a regular basis. Off the top of my head, we’ve posted twice in recent days criticising the Immigration Bill. Last week, and many other times, I’ve criticised the ERA. There have been repeated posts on the government’s refusal to face up to peak oil, and numerous criticisms of Helen Clark’s speeches and public comments. We’ve criticised them on tax. The one time any of us told people how to vote it was an exhortation ot “vote Green” over Labour’s failure to do enough for shift workers. Your point about the Derek Fox leak also proved my point about your lack of research – I condemned the leak in a comment here. In short, you’re full of shit, and if you carry on smearing us and wasting our time like this I’ll ban you.]

  54. Daveski 54

    Anita:

    So, if Clark came out today and announced the election date was to be the 15th November National would start releasing lots of policies next week?

    I wasn’t arguing that as such more than any criticism of lack of policy at this stage is not fully justified. It would certainly call National’s bluff and I would agree that on the basis of what I’ve seen, National would be definitely challenged to present a coherent set of policies.

    My wider point which we may agree on is that the marketing of politics means the sizzle is far more important than the sausage – what people look like, what they sound like rather than what they actually say or do.

    The point I’ve consistently been making is that National is playing to a strategy and it seems to be working. Clearly, National’s strong suit is the protest vote which I accept must be frustrating from the left perspective.

  55. J 55

    [Tane: Okay, as you wish. Banned for a month. Email us back when you’ve grown up.]

  56. Oliver 56

    A couple of little bits:

    Tracy’s article was about perceptions so in that frame she was quite correct, Labour is perceived as playing a left v right / personal attacks game whereas National is ‘winning’ by playing a we’re all feeling the pinch and can do better game.

    I believe that it does make a lot of sense for National to play that way as huge numbers of voters such as myself never knew life before Rogernomics and don’t look at the pre-Rogernomics world with rose-tinted glasses. Also most people of my generation are not hugely well schooled in the classical definitions of left versus right so Clark and Cullen’s left v right statements just wash over a lot of them.

    What a lot of this means is that for a lot of my generation Clark and Cullen seem like throwbacks to a time that has passed whereas Key’s team seem like people for and from today.

    Obviously though my whole thesis here doesn’t apply to people who read political blogs everyday.

  57. fiona 57

    Anita, I am interested that you say Key came from a family of business owners. A recent National Party pamphlet delivered in my letter box mentions him being raised by a solo mother in a state house. I have found reference to his father being an alcoholic who left the family in debt, but nothing about what the father actually did.

    I have long suspected the story being peddled that he is a state house kid made good didn’t tell the full story. But that story really resonates with ordinary New Zealanders. More murketing perhaps?

  58. Anita 58

    fiona,

    The profile in The Sunday Star Times on 28 January last year says that his father was an unsuccessful businessman from a wealthy family.

    (Sorry, I’m in a hurry and that was the first reference I could find and there isn’t a free online copy)

    I don’t think anyone is challenging the fact that he some of his childhood was in a state house, or that his family was genuinely low income for some of his childhood. There is, however, a huge difference between a temporarily low income middle class family (with all of the heritage of education, skills, connections, aspirations and values that entails) and a working class family.

  59. Ari 59

    Very interesting, Anita.

    Tracy’s article was about perceptions so in that frame she was quite correct, Labour is perceived as playing a left v right / personal attacks game whereas National is ‘winning’ by playing a we’re all feeling the pinch and can do better game.

    Commenting about perceptions and “the game” is all Tracy Watkins does, and it’s not exciting, it’s boring, frustrating, and damaging to democracy. She should grow up and learn to think about the consequences of what people actually do in Parliament, rather than how badly “the game” works out for Minister X when shock revelations come out about her/his funding/affair/conflict of interest/etc…

  60. Draco TB 60

    Once Helen tells us when the election will be, it will then force National to show its hand.

    I keep seeing this line and keep wondering what National would have done if the election date had been declared on Jan 1 (Which is when, IMO, it should have been declared). I’m pretty sure National would still have kept their policy back as long as possible to prevent people from actually analyzing it.

  61. Draco TB 61

    What a lot of this means is that for a lot of my generation Clark and Cullen seem like throwbacks to a time that has passed whereas Key’s team seem like people for and from today.

    Key’s team stands for a time that’s even further past. Specifically the Belle Epoch ~1870 – 1914 which was a period of free-trade the likes of which the world hasn’t (arguably) seen since. There was also Pax Brittanica which was the height of the British Empire from the early 19th century until the beginning of WW1.

    Basically you’re looking at Imperialism, Laissez Faire and patriarchism.

    (Interestingly enough Google only brings up fashion trends for Belle Epoch so you’ll need to check out an economics textbook to get full info. I would suggest Global Political Economy by John Ravenhill)

  62. Oliver 62

    Draco TB

    Argumentum absurdium is what you were engaging in there; something that is neither informative nor constructive nor relevant. Entirely akin to me claiming that Helen wants to collectivise the farms.

    Your claims about Imperialism, Pax Brittanica, Laissez Faire and patriarchism are no more accurate than the deranged rumblings of Dads4Justice.

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    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
    3 days 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
    3 days 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 ...
    3 days 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
    3 days 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
    3 days 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
    3 days 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
    4 days 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
    4 days 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
    4 days 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 ...
    4 days 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 ...
    4 days 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 ...
    4 days 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
    4 days 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
    4 days 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 ...
    4 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    5 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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 ...
    6 days ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    7 days ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    7 days ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    7 days ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    1 week ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Another constitutional outrage
    Another day, another constitutional outrage in the UK. This time, the government is saying that if parliament passes a law to stop Brexit before being prorogued, they may just ignore it:A senior cabinet minister has suggested Boris Johnson could defy legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit if it is forced ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ending dairy in Canterbury
    Environment Canterbury has finally proposed nitrogen limits to stop dairy farmers from poisoning Christchurch's water supply. And naturally, farmers are whining about it:A proposed move by Environment Canterbury (ECan) to protect Christchurch's drinking water by setting tough – some would say, draconian – nitrate reductions in the decades ahead and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Is National the party of climate arson?
    The Zero Carbon Bill is currently before select committee. While its targets are weak, its a generally sensible bill that promises to establish a long-term framework to guide emissions reductions. But National hasn't made up its mind on whether it will support it - and according to Andrea Vance in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Experts warn Harold the Giraffe “well past” typical giraffe life expectancy, may not have long
    Dum-de-doo. Children across New Zealand have known him for generations as the lovable giraffe who tells them to exercise, hydrate and not to shove lit cigarettes up their nostrils. But a world renowned giraffe expert says we shouldn’t be getting attached to Life Education’s Harold the Giraffe, as he is ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • August ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: 22 BLOGGERS WITH ADVICE FOR RESEARCHERS AND EVALUATORS, ILLUSTRATED I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bye, bye to the collusion lie
    Sums it up, really. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Opinion: Treat your car by buying extra petrol to snack on while you aren’t driving
    By Mike Hosking. Yesterday morning, I waltzed into work, and as I walked past the drones aggressively typing out news on the computers I’ve repeatedly asked to be moved further away from, I caught a glimpse of the words “climate change”, and noticed that suspiciously they weren’t in condescending quotation ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago

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