Why is James Shaw our new Minister for Statistics?

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, October 29th, 2017 - 123 comments
Categories: climate change, Environment, greens, james shaw - Tags: ,

There’s been a fair amount of talk about why James Shaw took the Statistics portfolio in negotiations with the government. While some people don’t understand, I actually think it’s an excellent fit, and will explain why, without resorting to parroting anyone’s dad jokes about numbers and counting.

Statistics is in charge of gathering a lot of information relevant to Shaw’s other, and arguably most important portfolio, Climate Change, a portfolio that relies heavily on accurate information to meet its goals of mitigating what is likely to be one of humanity’s big challenges in the short-to-medium term. By holding both roles, he ensures both that Climate Change is taken seriously and is handled in a way the Greens regard as adequate, and that he is getting the information he needs in the way he needs it with better integration between the two ministries, and he doesn’t have to ask a Labour Minister to change the information gathering process and wait on their feedback as to why or why not- he can either make the change himself or simply advocate for it directly in the relevant cabinet subcommittee if it might impact other Ministries negatively. This is the exact same approach Eugenie Sage has taken with Conservation and Land Information, combining a ministry that is a core Green priority with another that seems unimportant at first glance, but on a deeper look actually has direct relevance to the work she wants to do and has excellent synergy to give to the same Minister. As a finance associate, he will also provide that same level of integration to the gigantic five-person finance team the new Government has appointed, and Labour gets the bonus of potentially saving portfolios it views as meatier for its own caucus, pleasing people on both sides of the negotiating table. It’s a classic win-win move by the Greens.

I’d also argue that we should be looking at all other Ministers in the new government in terms of the synergy of their portfolios, by the way. We can see evidence of similar thoughtfulness in the synergy between some of Labour’s ministerial warrants, such as Andrew Little taking both Justice and Treaty Negotiations and also GCSB and SIS, or Phil Twyford’s pairing of Urban Development with Transport, or basically Peeni Henare’s entire portfolio pairing the satellite responsibilities to Social Development with the associate position in that portfolio, tying them together nicely and letting him report to Carmel Sepuloni on related matters. There’s plenty more examples, too many to go into.

Secondly, taking statistics has some benefits of its own for the Green Party. For instance, there have been rumours that Shaw is looking to have the census count LGBTQI+ people for the first time, providing more accurate information on sexuality and gender identity, where queer people are located, and therefore making it easier to serve our needs, which is excellent for its constituency as the party does very well with queer voters, being arguably the most liberal one in Parliament.

Thirdly, while Statistics sounds like a boring portfolio which you would normally assign someone as part of moving them to the edge of cabinet, Shaw has likely deliberately asked for Statistics as part of the Green Party’s long-term strategy of valuing substance over flair. While Statistics, like Energy or Revenue, is a portfolio that doesn’t sound interesting and on its own does little to advance the profile of ministers, when wielded properly and in combination with other portfolios, it actually has a surprising amount of clout, as determining how government data is gathered, interpreted, and made available has far-reaching implications. It can also help Shaw make sure that requests for official information to Statistics are kept relatively open, holding the two core parties of the new government to account from his position as a confidence and supply partner by ensuring information is released to citizens or the media even when it doesn’t help the government, and just promoting the Greens’ goal of a more open, transparent government in general.

Finally, in addition to being a party of environmentalists and liberals, the Green Party is also a party of nerd who value openness to new experiences and evidence-based decision making, and James is essentially the king of the nerdy sub-community inside the Green Party. James famously plays D&D, and makes in-jokes about it in the media. James knows that knowledge is power, and being Minister of Statistics basically puts him in charge of general knowledge for the entire government. In a classic nerd move, when asked what room he wanted to be in charge of, he took over the library, not just because it gives him power over all the information, but also because he simply loves knowledge for its own sake, and wants to make sure it’s used responsibly, and made freely available to those who want it. When you understand that about the Greens, this portfolio choice makes all of the sense in the world, even discarding the three other points in its favour.

123 comments on “Why is James Shaw our new Minister for Statistics?”

  1. Peter 1

    Facts beat emotion every time if people will listen.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      That sounds a bit like Libertarian political “theory” to me. The fact is, the emotional response happens before any rational analysis and affects everything that comes after it. Hence confirmation bias etc etc.

      The battleground upon which facts win is the actual battleground. If you think Earth is flat and I don’t, one of us can do ballistics and use satellites and the other can’t. If you think flat taxes, privatisation, market forces and user pays are sensible and popular policies then you’ll get 0.5% of the vote, no matter how factual or emotional you are.

      It’s no use wishing that people won’t be swayed by Steven Joyce’s lies if only they would listen. Life isn’t like that.

      • And the still the facts win. No amount of emotional grasping is going to change them.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1

          How did the facts win for the citizens affected by the National’s Party’s sadistic incompetence this last nine years?

          Academic debate is all very well: science might “advance through a procession of funerals”, but meanwhile there’s a stack of other people’s coffins piling up.

          In other words, where emotional appeals can win elections, for fucks sake use them.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.1

            How did the facts win for the citizens affected by the National’s Party’s sadistic incompetence this last nine years?

            By being the exact opposite of what National said would happen.

            Just need to tie the two together in a way that people don’t forget. To be able to show that next time National comes out with the ideological bollocks that they’re simply lying. So, we also need those rules going on about that give MPs serious consequences for lying.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1.1.1.1

              In practice however, it takes nine years or less for the electorate to forget what the National Party is, and no amount of legislation can fix that.

        • marty mars 1.1.1.2

          The interpretation of the facts win because the facts themselves are neutral.

        • Stuart Munro 1.1.1.3

          The facts win if they’re honestly presented – was never going to happen on Bill’s watch. And there’s Hume’s “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them”. Hence the priority in his times for cultivating a proper sensibility.

          It’s not the facts that failed us, but the wretched excuses for men that slithered their way into power to enrich themselves at our expense.

      • greywarshark 1.1.2

        OAB
        Glad that you pointed out the role of emotion in our thinking. It enters into all thinking, all choices including which fact to check, how to look for it, the weight put on the results, and when and if it will be acted on, and the important facts and statistics that show the willingness of the particular entity to emotionally entertain the findings of the fact-finding study.

      • greywarshark 1.1.3

        OAB
        Glad that you pointed out the role of emotion in our thinking. It enters into all thinking, all choices including which fact to check, how to look for it, the weight put on the results, and when and if it will be acted on, and the important facts and statistics that show the willingness of the particular entity to emotionally entertain the findings of the fact-finding study.

        I think we urgently need work on our employment statistics.

    • Matthew Whitehead 1.2

      Nope, that’s a bad thesis. Facts are best portrayed in their proper emotional context. We need facts to make good policy, but we need emotion to make good rhetoric so that people support that policy. Stats is the ministry that drives good policy-making, but we still need emotionally resonant communicators to sell those policies to the public. This is where having great politicians like Jacinda Ardern or Marama Davidson as our representatives will serve us the best, IMO.

      Consider the meme that Labour will get New Zealand back into debt, when recently the Labour Party has been better than the National Party at paying down debt. The facts say that Labour is a responsible fiscal manager, but a lot of right-wingers don’t feel that that’s true, so they ignore the facts. We have to give the ones close to the fence an excuse to change that feeling before they’ll reconsider.

      • Incognito 1.2.1

        A fact is nothing by itself, merely the sound of a tree falling over in the middle of the forest with nobody around to witness or hear it. It is only when it informs us and when we give it meaning that it becomes a fact. Our emotional state plays an important role in this, more than the fact itself, actually … [No, I’m not taking the piss]

          • In Vino 1.2.1.1.1

            Not too sure that a fact becomes important only when we get to become conscious of it. Limitations of the human condition, I guess.

            • Incognito 1.2.1.1.1.1

              You cannot provide or discuss a fact of which you are not conscious. QED

              • In Vino

                It can turn out to be hugely important when hindsight comes into play. We need to learn from history… Our ignorance of a fact at the time does not invalidate that fact’s importance.

                Our ignorance of facts does not invalidate their importance – it merely puts us at a big disadvantage. The importance remains.

                • Incognito

                  I believe we’re talking at cross purposes. I’m not talking about importance but about whether something is known to be true.

                  In the context of this post it is perhaps better to ask what facts need to be collected, by whom, and how should these be shared, with whom? Only then can we learn, as you say.

                  • In Vino

                    No argument with that. All we now need to do is destroy commercialism, the advertising industry, the MSM, and start afresh.. (Smiley icon)

    • Philg 1.3

      Peter. “Facts beat emotion, if people will listen” Really. Have you heard of Donald Trump? If… if… if only if.

  2. UncookedSelachimorpha 2

    I think this is quite significant. What you choose to measure (or not measure) be very powerful. Think of National blocking measures of child poverty, or the US military not quantifying Iraqi deaths in Iraq.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      Yep.

      Employment means a zero hours contract, and I just created an infinite number of jobs.

  3. Ed1 3

    I suspect that over the 2008 to 2017 period quite a few statistics series were discontinued – some may have been for good reason, but others perhaps for the purposes of political spin – I recall a chart showing I think some aspect of government debt that finished in 2012. Statistics will be aware of those that they were required to cease publishing, and those that were no longer relevant – it may be possible for some to be reinstated. I hope that all three coalition parties would put utility before political embarassment – being open and honest includes recognition of embarassments and failures as well as successes.

  4. red-blooded 4

    I think this is a very good fit. It seems to me that this is one of many thoughtful pairings of portfolios and it reflects very well on both sides in the Labour-Green negotiations. After all, James Shaw didn’t simply “take” Statistics – it was agreed in negotiations (in fact, it may well have been offered to him).

    I think on the whole the teams that conducted the negotiations and decided on cabinet appointments have done a bloody good job in playing to people’s strengths and showing trust between the 3 parties. After all, if we take one of the comments from the post above and turn it around, this appointment does mean that Shaw won’t have to ask any Labour minister for info relevant to his Climate Change portfolio – true – but it also means that plenty of Labour and NZF ministers will be asking his ministry for info relevant to their work. The fact that Labour is happy with this bodes well.

    • Matthew Whitehead 4.1

      That is a fair point- we honestly don’t know if Labour suggested it or the Greens did, perhaps “accept” would have been a better verb. Either way it reflects well on both parties that the wisdom of Shaw’s portfolio mix (and likewise, Sage’s one too) made it into the final agreement.

      I actually had a look through the NZF portfolios for similar synergy and didn’t really find anything obvious, so I think in that case they either had a bit more trouble matching demands to the skills of potential ministers, or it may simply have been that the mix of CC and Stats and Conservation and LI was a Green request. Still, they largely picked portfolios that play well to the party’s interests and strength, without creating too much alarm by giving NZF anything that would let them practice their systemic racism on a policy level.

    • Isaac Freeman 4.2

      The Statistics portfolio has often been discussed by Green members as a particular goal, as part of a general strategy of identifying portfolios that are traditionally less prominent but give particularly good leverage for our policies.

      I have no inside knowledge, but I’m confident that the Green negotiating team would have been seeking Statistics. Whether Labour offered it would just be a matter of who spoke first.

  5. Zorb6 5

    The more I see and hear, the more it seems the Green Party is intent on being the LGBTQI Party. I would have thought attracting wider appeal through championing environmental and broader social policies that resonate with the general population would be a lot more pragmatic.I hope any over representation of very vocal ,staunch feminists does not capture this party,and in doing so undermine this coalition.

    • weka 5.1

      “I hope any over representation of very vocal ,staunch feminists does not capture this party,and in doing so undermine this coalition.”

      I think that ship has well and truly sailed 😉 In Labour too.

      What are you seeing and hearing about the Greens on LGBTI? If you mean they’re the best party in parliament on those issues, possibly.

    • Delia 5.2

      Blast from the past, welcome back from the seventies mate, hope you feel at home.

    • The more I see and hear, the more it seems the Green Party is intent on being the LGBTQI Party.

      You must be seriously limiting what you see and hear then.

      • Zorb6 5.3.1

        Read this in the thread post’ there have been rumours that Shaw is looking to have the census count LGBTQI+ people for the first time, providing more accurate information on sexuality and gender identity, where queer people are located, and therefore making it easier to serve our needs, which is excellent for its constituency as the party does very well with queer voters, being arguably the most liberal one in Parliament.’.
        What are the needs that need servicing ,that are unique to this queer faction?

        • Incognito 5.3.1.1

          What are the needs that need servicing ,that are unique to this queer faction?

          Hmmm, understanding, respect & acceptance, safety, prejudice, discrimination, violence, etc., for starters.

          • Zorb6 5.3.1.1.1

            Not one of the things you mention is unique to queers.

            • Incognito 5.3.1.1.1.1

              Yes, they are unique to queers because they suffer these injustices because they are queer. This is the essence of the issue; they cannot be who they are without suffering negative consequences.

              • Zorb6

                Short people,disabled people etc,etc all suffer discrimination because of their circumstance.Thats life.I was under the impression queers had obtained equality i.e equal rights.

                • Incognito

                  The uniqueness is not in discrimination per se but in discrimination on a certain ground.

                  To say that’s life sounds patronising, insensitive & uncaring to me; it simply is not acceptable to discriminate.

                  There still is a long way to go before everyone has equal rights to everyone and these rights are mostly or only enacted upon because they’re enshrined in Law rather than ethics.

                  In other words, it should not be necessary to tell a person to not discriminate because it is against the Law because this person ought to not discriminate because it is unethical.

                  • Zorb6

                    That’s life is the reality in the context of other examples I gave.If you choose to interpret what I write as you state,then you yourself are guilty of mere conjecture.We live in an imperfect world,where perception often trumps reality.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      That’s your “argument”? It’s vacuous and weak. When slavery was legal, people just like you were saying “that’s life”.

                      We made your way of “life” illegal then too. Welcome to the wrong side of history.

                    • Zorb6

                      @OAB.Thats your opinion.Your analogy given the context discussed is pathetic.Thats my opinion.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Ok, in that case I’ll rephrase.

                      Your fatalistic stoicism would be more credible if it was employed on your own behalf.

                    • Zorb6

                      @OAB,no wonder your S.O.H left you for a funny guy.

                    • Incognito

                      Your comment makes no sense to me; I hope you aren’t suggesting that discrimination is (just) perception, are you?

                      The conjecture is all mine when I interpret what you wrote but you could make some effort into properly engaging and explaining yourself (better) rather than only asking pointy questions and outright rejecting the answers you receive. You do know what is the point of debate, don’t you? It is the reason why you’re here on TS, isn’t it?

                    • In Vino

                      When people limit themselves to the perceptions that they prefer, it is not easy to get reasoned debate from them.

        • Draco T Bastard 5.3.1.2

          Yes, but what makes you think that’s all they’re doing?

    • The more I see and hear, the more it seems the Green Party is intent on being the LGBTQI Party.

      This is despite them reiterating over and over during the campaign the three most important things for the Green Party in the next government, none of which was “corner the LGBTQI vote”? It makes me wonder what you saw and heard, if you managed to miss all that.

    • Matthew Whitehead 5.5

      It’s one of the party’s constituencies, sure. That said, queer issues didn’t get much more campaigning attention than, say, drug reform during 2017. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t legitimate Green reasons to support the queer community and campaign for our votes. From the starting point of environmental wisdom, you can derive the value of social justice- follow along with me:

      1) Resources on our planet are limited.
      2) Given limited resources, what’s the most effective way to use them? We should share them fairly.
      3) Given we’ve now derived an environmental justification for some degree of economic equality, we should also look at whether this principle applies to social policy.
      4) People seem to be happier, more productive, and less inclined to over-consume when they are granted their human rights and valued as part of a larger community.
      5) Thus, social justice.

      The Green Party has always been a party that is both left and liberal, has always been a staunch supporter of queer rights. This isn’t a “new” intent. It’s been built in from the beginning.

      If you can’t get onboard with the party’s values, they honestly don’t want you. NZF or National might have space for conservative environmentalists intent on oppressing queer people, but the Greens don’t think those two work well together in the long-term. That isn’t to say that there aren’t people within the party who see queer rights as personally distasteful but a necessary compromise to a functioning secular society- in fact, I met some of them during the campaign, and we got on reasonably well, because we agreed on basically everything else and they still treated me like a human being, and I did them the courtesy of not bringing up the topic again after they politely said their piece.

      • Zorb6 5.5.1

        How are queers being oppressed these days?What rights are they missing out on?

        • weka 5.5.1.1

          For an easy starting point on that I’d suggest googling the rates of violent crime against LGBTQI people, especially gay men and transgender people.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 5.5.1.2

          After you’ve checked out the crime statistics, check out the suicide statistics.

          Or do neither, and pull your head in and stop disgracing yourself instead.

          • Zorb6 5.5.1.2.1

            You are guessing then right?I asked what rights they are missing out on?The replies that queers commit suicide and get assaulted are certainly not unique to any group.Again-‘What are the needs that need servicing ,that are unique to this queer faction?’

            • Incognito 5.5.1.2.1.1

              [Sigh]

              If you’re genuinely interested and what to educate yourself Google is your friend (N).

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

            • One Anonymous Bloke 5.5.1.2.1.2

              Was that the lesson you took from what Weka and I wrote?

              Not very perceptive of you. LGBTQI people are over-represented in both statistics. That’s what the word “rate” in Weka’s comment indicates.

              Reading is a skill, but perhaps you’re too keen to reveal your character to make the effort.

              • Zorb6

                Comprehension is a skill then too.It seems they have the same rights as every other NZ’er.I took no lesson from what you two wrote because (a)you have no actual comparisons(Farmers commit suicide)and (b)how will this actually be addressed ?-‘therefore making it easier to serve our needs, ‘.Stick to the topic,please.

                • Matthew Whitehead

                  You do realize that someone who is a different type of person having the same rights as any other type of person can be discrimination too, right?

                  For instance, men don’t need a right to access an abortion, but women do. If women don’t have that right, technically men and women have “the same rights,” yes, but they don’t each have the unique rights that are relevant to the realities of their own situation in society, or in this case, the simple biological differences between the sexes.

                  Likewise, straight people didn’t need the right to marry people of the same gender, but we eventually realized we had to extend that to queer people. Cis people don’t need the right to reasonable access to healthcare that lets them transition, but trans people do. Intersex people need a right not to be surgically altered as children before they have a chance to make their own decision, and so on. There are absolutely new rights needed for queer people that don’t yet exist, even if we have made some progress on legal recognition of basic queer rights. Marriage equality didn’t make queer politics “go away,” it’s not one-and-done.

                  And there’s even those magical rights that some people think the more privileged groups in society don’t need, but they actually appreciate when they get them as part of liberating minorities. Like a right to freely access birth control for men as well as women. Or a right for non-biological parents to be recognized at the birth of a child, because sometimes queer couples have arrangements where they form four-parent family groups rather than adopt. Queer rights benefit straight and cis people, too.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  The topic I’m addressing is your character. I’m trying to tease out why you’re so het up about this issue. Other people can educate your lazy ass.

                  • Zorb6

                    You do not need to address my character ,especially by assumption.Do not contribute if you have nothing sensible or pertinent to say.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      For example, if the reason you’re so het up about this is that you’re prejudiced against LGBTQI people, then you are the answer to your series of querulous demands for information.

                      Q: “Why do we need this”.

                      A: “Because of people like you.”

                      A pertinent line of enquiry by any measure.

                    • Zorb6

                      @OAB…that is not the reason.My interest is that I can’t see the logic in the Greens making it a high priority to champion Queers.I think it will not broaden their appeal for voters at all.It is a high risk strategy.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Is that what the Greens are about then: being “popular”? Too preoccupied to read the charter?

                      Obviously it’s unpopular with you. What does that say about the Greens, or the LGTBI community? Nothing at all.

                      Since you don’t want to talk about you (and let’s face it, you’re a dull and predictable subject), I look forward to reading your response to Matthew Whitehead’s polite and considered comments. You might even thank him for schooling you, unless you’re woefully ill mannered as well as lazy and wrong.

                    • Matthew Whitehead

                      Firstly, not everything a political party does needs to be about immediate short-term gain of votes. Sometimes doing something because you think it is right is its own reward, and gains votes in the long-term, and other times it doesn’t, but it might help you keep votes you already have who believe as you do that it was the right thing to do. That is a more generally Green approach to politics.

                      Secondly, obviously being a champion for the rights of queer people gives you a resonance with voters who are queer themselves or are closely invested in the lives of their friends, family members, or partners who are queer. (because remember, “queer” includes BTQI as well as L&G people, so straight or cis people can have queer partners) Yes, being too aggressively pro-queer might be a losing strategy if your aim is to achieve 50% of the vote on your own, but picking under-served minority political constituencies and bringing them together is actually an incredibly valid technique for small or medium-sized parties like the Greens. In proportional representation systems of politics, like MMP, it’s generally much more effective to pick and choose who you’re going to please and displease than to try to please everyone, especially if you know some of the people you’re displeasing will go to a political ally with their vote, anyway. Left-wing conservatives tend to vote Labour or NZ First, and getting them on board with the GP in large numbers is unlikely to be a viable strategy given that it would undermine their existing support base.

                    • Zorb6

                      @Matthew.Thanks for your explanation.It does make sense,looking at your bigger picture.
                      @OAB .You should learn not to base your submissions on assumptions and being a condescending prat doesn’t help discussion either.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      @Zorb6: I’m just pleased I could draw Matthew’s remarks to your attention. It’s nice to see you conceded the point, and used your manners.

                    • tracey

                      You dont get to control who gets to join in zorb6. You do not get to be the judge of what is pertinent, moderators do.

                      You seem quite agitated ( or fixated, or worried – it is hard to put a n adjective because you have refrained from explaining exactly what your concern is) by the number of women in the Green Party Caucus and “ministries” and now their decision to collect stats on lgbti in NZ.

                      Why do you think collecting stats on lgbti is going to put off people from voting Green? You say you voted Green, so did you read their charter? I ask because you seem to be at odds with one fundamental aspect of what they represent.

                    • Zorb6

                      @Tracey re’You dont get to control who gets to join in zorb6. You do not get to be the judge of what is pertinent, moderators do.’Is OAB a moderator?Who do I have to ask to find out what to say?

                    • tracey

                      Zorb6 . You sought to determine what can and cannot be said when you wrote ” contribute if you have nothing sensible or pertinent to say. ”

                      Now back to your objection. Why will collecting stats from LGBTI folk stop people voting Green? Why would people object to tgat? Have you read the Green Charter?

                      https://www.greens.org.nz/charter

                      The values

                      https://home.greens.org.nz/values

                • tracey

                  Isnt there state funding directed specifically into mental health support for farmers? You abhor that too?

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Only the LGTBI farmers 😉

                  • Zorb6

                    Couldn’t tell you.Seeing as you both asked and answered your own question,I can only say ,I have nothing against mental health support for anyone from any walk of life.

                    • tracey

                      If you do not collect statistics/data it is hard to support people

                    • Zorb6

                      @Tracey.You must be a huge fan of Bill English and his Social Investment programme then.It relies on collecting and collating screeds of data to identify and counter at risk individuals.And then there’s the other side of National’s coin.i.e we cannot act because we,don’t have the data(we don’t want it either).

                    • tracey

                      Are you saying you want data collected on LGBTI now or not?

                      Seeking information from LGBTI themselves through methods like a census, whereby the person decides what information to divulge is a little different to what you just described?

                      Are you saying you are now against the collection of LGBTI data to protect LGBTI folks? Cos earlier it was cos it would lose Greens potential voters?

                      Are you angry that NZ focussed on collecting data on farmers which led to them setting up and funding specialist mental health support for farmers? I use this example because you first raised farmers as a group who have some members commit suicide. I think you meant the example to show that farmers suffer but are not singled out, like LGBTI, but it turns out they have been given special attention, so does that taxpayer funded stat collection and support anger you?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      There are lots of uses for statistics.

                      “Social Investment”, on the other hand, is a way of shifting the blame for negative policy outcomes away from the National Party that enacted the policies.

                      So there’s not a great deal of support for that around here.

                  • Zorb6

                    @Tracey.Engaging with you on any topic seems like a complete waste of time.Non sequiturs ,twisting and turning,assuming,trying to put words in my mouth and then the selective audacity to decree what is pertinent!Can’t be bothered.Good day to you.

                    • tracey

                      What you cannot be bothered with is

                      Being held to account for your comments
                      Backing up your comments
                      Explaining your comments

                      I said “good day”

                • It seems they have the same rights as every other NZ’er.

                  But they don’t actually receive those rights no matter how much you say that they have them.

        • Matthew Whitehead 5.5.1.3

          Look at disproportionate rates of suicide, youth homelessness, lack of enshrined legal rights for trans, intersex, and non-binary people, the social implications that being bisexual makes you unreliable or slutty and therefore the disproportionate rates of suicide for bisexual people even relative to gay men and lesbians, and you’ll be getting started.

          We have just begun addressing the systemic oppression of queer people. (and by “systemic,” I mean “may not necessarily be deliberate” and “may not require negative rights to address,” a negative right being to something like “freedom from employment discrimination” as opposed to “the right to get married to a person you choose”) We’ll probably get to an acceptable balance regarding feminism and women’s rights before we do regarding sexual and gender minorities and the rights and social reforms accepting us entails.

          edit: The reason I even brought up queer people in this post, by the way, is that we have different and sometimes additional needs to straight people in for example the health system, yet we aren’t measured as a category the same way, for instance, we ask people to give their ethnic group to help make social policy decisions. Measuring where we live will help the government and DHBs know to what degree they need specialized service to meet the needs of New Zealand’s queer population.

          This is a prime example of why I do believe that taking the stats portfolio has relevance and importance- it will materially impact people’s lives for the government to have the information it needs to make well-informed, evidence-based decisions on policy.

          • In Vino 5.5.1.3.1

            Thank you for the reasoned and detailed contributions you make, Matthew. I tend to arrive on the thread late, get a bit involved and make brief, flibberty-gibberty comments. Even so, my impression is that Zorb6 is doing some agricultural trowelling…

            • Matthew Whitehead 5.5.1.3.1.1

              It’s much easier to get in in time when you know when your post is scheduled to go up, lol.

  6. I really like the synergy of portfolios approach – too often it seems the silo and/or fiefdom approach is used by minister’s..

    • Matthew Whitehead 6.1

      I do too, it’s one of the biggest points in favour of this portfolio pick, and the new government has it for about half the Labour Ministers as well as two-thirds of the Green ones. Jacinda and the team who allocated portfolios have, overall, done very well, even if I don’t necessarily agree with every choice of Minister within the Labour Party, or that the right ones are inside vs outside cabinet.

  7. RJL 7

    Yes, this is great idea.

    Of the options in our politics, the Green movement is generally the political group most closely based on reality and scientific evidence. Hence, why versions of their policies eventually get adopted by the mainstream parties.

    So, it makes perfect sense for the Greens to be interested in gathering great statistical data. Rather than attempting to hide, spin and obfuscate statistical data like National did for its period of government.

    • Incognito 7.1

      There’s the collection and (pre-)processing of the data (which data?), the basic descriptive and correlative analyses, and then there’s the models used to forecast (predict) and inform policies and other actions. The model outputs are ever as good as the data feeding into them; the best data are no good if the models are biased or worse …

      • RJL 7.1.1

        Sure. Getting good statistical information is complicated.

        It sure as hell helps, however, if the objective of the minister is to “gather data about reality” (i.e. the Green’s approach). As opposed to “suppress data which reveals the government’s policies are rubbish”, (i.e. the National approach).

  8. Venezia 8

    Ed1….I think that is correct about statistics during the 2008 – 2017 period. An example is child poverty measures. The previous administrations had no problem using the internationally accepted measure for households (of less than 60% of median income after housing expenses) and published this for years. Then the Nats decided it was not politically convenient and moved to disputing how you measure poverty.

  9. Richard Christie 9

    I’m looking forward to knowing the real unemployment figures.
    Not those that define someone working one hour p/w as employed.

    And the truth behind many other cover ups.

    • dv 9.1

      Ditto Richard

    • Matthew Whitehead 9.2

      That’s a fair point. Write James a letter telling him you’d love to see an underemployment report with more detailed information in terms of hours worked as well as the usual job/no job numbers. (which are also a bit more complicated than that too, because they exclude people who are deemed “not to be looking,” rather than include them as a third category) I think we have some publicly available information on under-employment, but it may not be as detailed as we’d really need. It would certainly be very revealing to see a chart showing how many NZers work for a certain number of hours each week.

      I’ve never had a bad experience writing letters on policy to either Labour or Green MPs. Even when they’ve disagreed with my position, they will send a reply back, often outlining their rationale in great detail. Can’t hurt to try, although I would point out that they’re probably very busy getting things set up for the new government, and will need some time to reply!

      • I think we have some publicly available information on under-employment, but it may not be as detailed as we’d really need.

        StatsNZ does seem to have woken up to the fact that their stats weren’t really fit for purpose:

        Statistics NZ has accepted that their measurement of “official unemployment” is flawed and presents a distorted picture;

        The number of people unemployed and the unemployment rate are widely used as indicators of labour market performance and unutilised labour resources in the economy. For many years the measure of unemployment and the unemployment rate have been criticised from both an economic and social perspective. Some of the main criticisms are that the unemployment rate:

        * fails to capture labour market downturns in all contexts

        * does not fit with common perceptions of ‘lack of work’

        * is no longer sufficient on its own in increasingly diversifying labour markets to describe all aspects of attachment to the labour market and insufficiency in paid work

        * fails to capture the economic hardship experienced by individual workers.

        Still, more work needed to make them better, more informative and a lot more in publishing them widely and ensuring that people understand them.

    • The real unemployment figures, the under-employed figures, and the over-employed figures.

      All of these are necessary to get a better picture of what is happening re employment.

  10. Ad 10

    Matthew this is just spectacular turd polishing. You’ve decorated it with icing, put a veil and and silk ribbon around it, your kissed and fondled it and made pink icing roses for it. You’ve sprinkled it with Drakkar Noir to dampen the smell, and raised it on a pedestal wrapped in white jasmine. You’ve made it huge and special, so high that it had recently collected snow and Angela Jolie was taking a well earned winter break on its northern slopes with all her children skiing around the outside singing The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music.

    It’s a turd, Matthew.

    No-one else wants it.

    They don’t even have their own building.

    Min Statistics has almost zero political or media effect, even if it’s got some residual policy use. And it never will.

    It’s down there with Women’s Affairs, Veteran’s Affairs, and Parliamentary Services. If you have been assigned Minister of Statistics it says in neon lights: no one gives a fuck about you. It’s a demotion before you got demoted.

    He would have had more grunt if he’d combined his Zero Carbon thing with Minister of Revenue, and slid some of the instruments into the Tax Working Group. Then we would have seen something smart happen.

    • Matthew Whitehead 10.1

      I addressed this in the post, and I don’t appreciate the implication I’m being less than genuine. If I were dissatisfied here, I would either not be talking on the subject or more likely, I would be actively complaining. Just because you feel Statistics is inevitably a turd, as opposed to simply being treated like one, doesn’t mean I agree. I think it enhances James’ abilities and mana as Climate Change Minister to have taken up the Statistics portfolio together with it, and I think having a Party Leader as Minister for Statistics will also enhance the mana of the portfolio, too.

      I also disagree about the Ministry for Women, too, by the by.

      I agree there are other portfolios that the Greens can and should want and treat as a higher priority than Statistics or Land Information- such an Energy, Revenue, (coincidentally, also portfolios that by conventional wisdom are considered places where ministerial careers go to die) Social Development, or Primary Transport minister, but the Greens had a poor result this election, and we do have to acknowledge that they will have had to give up some of their ambitions in order to progress others.

      It’s also entirely possible that the negotiating team for the Greens asked for Statistics and Land Information after already getting Climate Change and Conservation, and didn’t give up anything appreciable to get them. When you believe a portfolio is undervalued by the governing party in negotiation, you should absolutely ask for it if you think it won’t stand in the way of getting your other priorities, because you can get it for cheap. I suspect this is what has happened with Stats, Land Info, and Women, with them being decided on at a later stage of the negotiation when they’d already established the shape of the big-ticket items either side wanted to put on or off the table.

      • marty mars 10.1.1

        + 1 yep I agree. The paradigms are changing and some can’t get their heads around it. And it isn’t age or experience that it can be pinned on, it is attitude

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.2

      Long drawn-out farting noise.

      So eager to display your malicious ignorance again, and there was me thinking flamebait is against the policy.

    • tracey 10.3

      Your comment says way more about you than Matthew.

      • In Vino 10.3.1

        Yes! Well said Tracey. He invents some person based on Angeline Jolie, and dares to give that person the role which truly belongs to that nice Julie Andrews. An utter rat-bag.

    • Min Statistics has almost zero political or media effect, even if it’s got some residual policy use.

      Rather silly PoV considering that statistics in vitally important to every other department.

      A government simply cannot function without statistics no matter how much National believes it can.

      • Richard Christie 10.4.1

        +100%

        Evidence based policy requires reliable evidence.

        Control and access to good information is at the core of good governance.

        Statistics portfolio is of far greater importance and power than the shortsighted perceive.

  11. joe90 11

    Thirdly, while Statistics sounds like a boring portfolio which you would normally assign someone as part of moving them to the edge of cabinet, Shaw has likely deliberately asked for Statistics as part of the Green Party’s long-term strategy of valuing substance over flair

    Yay, a minister who knows that for some, the performance of his ministry is a life and death matter.

    The 2013 census provided us with an opportunity to make sure
    that everyone who should be counted was indeed counted. A
    comparison of Primary Health Organisation enrolment data and
    census projections indicated that there is a census shortfall of
    over 3,000 people in Northland. Under the population based
    funding formula, each person in Northland contributes health
    funding of around $3,000 per person, per year, so the under-
    count potentially equates to our funding being around $10
    million dollars less than it should be.

    http://www.northlanddhb.org.nz/Portals/0/Communications/Publications/2013 NDHB Annual Report FINAL – website.pdf

    edit: – the back end won’t append itself so C&P required.

  12. Sparky 12

    Hmmmm why not Minister for the Environment? I find this troubling myself but then this is a coalition considering signing the TPP11.

    • weka 12.1

      The Greens oppose the TPPA and won’t get a vote on it. NZF too afaik.

      • Matthew Whitehead 12.1.1

        Well, to be fair I think the Greens’ exact position is that it can’t be considered without drastic reworking of the IS/DS clause and the intellectual property parts in addition to Labour’s existing concerns about housing policy carveouts, but as those are the two biggest objections to the TPP that’s basically the same thing as opposing it.

        The tricky thing about this is that Labour will be able to pass the deal with National, (in fact, don’t we have the enabling legislation already in place? Would we even need to amend it for TPP11, even with Labour’s proposed changes? My gut says no…) so a more reasonable negotiating position needs to be traded for concessions on other legislation, and we’ll see how likely that is I guess.

        • tracey 12.1.1.1

          It does not need a parliamentary vote Matthew just sign off by the Executive (Cabinet?)?

          • Matthew Whitehead 12.1.1.1.1

            The treaty itself only needs a sign off by cabinet, yes, but if the treaty necessitates any changes to NZ law (and TPP does…) then it needs an enabling law passed that only goes into effect after the treaty is signed by all parties.

            What I was wondering was whether the law for TPP12 that was passed under the National Government will still serve as the enabling law for TPP11- if that’s the case, Labour can just do TPP11 with their housing carveout (which wouldn’t necessitate a change to the enabling law) with just the executive signoff, and doesn’t need to secure anyone else’s support to get the deal through. They’d be giant hypocrites after complaining about National not bringing it to Parliament for a debate before signing TPP12, but when has that ever stopped them before? 😉

            Now, if TPP11 legally counts as a different treaty, (or the enabling law specifically required the US to sign) then the old enabling law doesn’t count. That could mean that Labour wouldn’t be able to pass it without the Greens and NZ First, if National votes against Labour implementing the TPP because they view it as a win for Labour and want to deny it to them, or if they have some objection to the renegotiated terms. But most likely National will vote for any form of TPP that’s successfully negotiated anyway… If they actually need the Greens and NZ First, that likely means we’d either kill the TPPA, (which IMO is better than getting it in the current form where it saddles us with aggressively pro-corporate IS/DS and IP laws) or get to sign a deal that’s actually halfway decent, with NZ First objecting to the IS/DS provisions, and the Greens objecting to that too, and the intellectual property provisions, and both insisting on renegotiation.

            • tracey 12.1.1.1.1.1

              Presumably Labour NZF and Greens could introduce amendments to the enabling legislation?

              With 1 party gone and some terms changed it is surely a new Treaty, once signed, renders the last one null and void?

    • KJT 12.2

      I suspect National and Labour may combine to pass the “Corporate rights over democracy agreement”.

      • Yep, they’ve done it before chances are that they’ll do it again.

        It’s why voting Labour will never change anything and why we need to move on from Representative Democracy (that only really only represents business) to full participatory democracy.

        • Andrea 12.2.1.1

          For as long as parliament is dominated by the ‘professional class, the tertiary educated’ inequality will be built into the system. It’s a class that loves winners and losers; righteous and unworthy; patronising instead of inclusion. Just the way it is – and it’s now so embedded in the social conversation no one questions whether or not this adoration of the degree has prospered this country much at all.

          Without the least hint of a sneer, Draco T, how will this shift to participatory democracy be sponsored, sustained and implemented over time, and become as accepted as daylight saving? Because the current flock of parties is deeply wedded to the status quo.

          • Draco T Bastard 12.2.1.1.1

            how will this shift to participatory democracy be sponsored, sustained and implemented over time, and become as accepted as daylight saving?

            Slowly I expect. Same as the shift from FPP to MMP was slow happening over nearly 20 years as the populace saw the injustice of the FPP system.

            Point out that similar injustices are happening now such as our assets being sold off. That some people are benefiting from free water against the wishes of the majority.

            Point out that the only way to address these injustices is for the populace in general to decide directly.

          • tracey 12.2.1.1.2

            Adoration of the Degree is also a direct result of

            1. Hiding unemployment in Higher Ed
            2. Business using HE to subsidise their job training

  13. Andrea 13

    We can only hope and trust Mr Shaw will make a point of keeping the numbers on older citizens in the workforce – given the endless bleats about how much national super is ‘costing’ the country and the ‘shortages of skilled workers’.

    • timeforacupoftea 13.1

      Some stats here for you Andrea.

      https://www.msd.govt.nz/documents/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/research/turning-65/to-work-or-not-to-work-findings-from-survey-of-65-yr-olds.pdf

      Reading the whole publication makes me think reaching 60 is no fun for most.

      Key findings
      At the time they were interviewed, the employment status of the 65-year-old respondents was as follows:
      • 31% were working full-time
      • 18% were working part-time
      • 7% were working irregular hours (eg casual or seasonal work)
      • 7% were not working, but had plans to work in the next 12 months
      • 37% were not working and had no plans to work in the next 12 months.
      A number of differences in the likelihood of being in work were found between subgroups of 65 year olds. These were as follows:
      • Those who perceived their health as excellent, very good, or good were significantly more likely to be employed than those who perceived their health as fair, poor or very poor.
      • Those with a working partner were significantly more likely to be currently employed than those without a partner or who had a partner not in work.
      • Those with mortgages owing on their homes were significantly more likely to be employed than those without mortgages.
      • Those with caring responsibilities for children aged under 16 years were significantly less likely to be employed than those without caring responsibilities.
      • Women were significantly less likely to be employed than men.
      • The more time 65 year olds had spent on benefit in the last 10 years, the less likely
      they were to be currently employed.

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