Tuesday, July 7, 2015


From the files of Alf Grumble
Hold your hat on, Dover – those kauri logs (carved or otherwise) are nice little earners for the economy

Alf is a bit bemused about this kauri carry-on.

Here’s how he sees it: enterprising people are doing Northland a favour by ridding its swamps of kauri.

But Dover Samuels, one of the region’s prominent citizens, is hollering for a halt to the clean-up, which – for good measure – is earning good export dollars.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mike Butler: Shameful HB Airport giveaway

The right for claimant group Mana Ahuriri to buy half of the HB Airport as part of its treaty settlement, as reported in the HB Today on Saturday, is the latest of a long line of government blunders over the airport.

Under the deed of settlement, which is still to be ratified by members of Ahuriri hapu, Mana Ahuriri Incorporated's governance body will have the right to elect to buy the 50 per cent stake in Hawke's Bay Airport the Crown owns.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Gary Judd: World defenceless against next financial crisis

The world is defenceless against the next financial crisis, warns BIS. Monetary policymakers have run out of room to fight the next crisis with interest rates unable to go lower, the BIS warns

That is a headline in The Daily Telegraph of 28 June 2015. The article commences “The world will be unable to fight the next global financial crash as central banks have used up their ammunition trying to tackle the last crises, the Bank for International Settlements has warned…. The BIS report described the threat of a new bust in advanced economies as a “main risk”, with many reaching the top of the economic cycle.”[1]

Ron Smith: More People on Boats

As if to prove my point about the overlap between political activism and an ostensibly independent media (‘Boat People’, 30 June, 2015), we now have the story of a pair of Maori TV journalists, Ruwani Perera and Jacob Bryant, turning up on a protest boat in the Mediterranean.  Ostensibly, they are there to report but, in fact, they are part of an elaborate propaganda effort promoted by Kiaora Gaza, through Maori TV’s Native Affairs.  

As it happened, the story was already out, before the event was over. As recounted by Martyn Bradbury on his DailyBlog the ‘peace flotilla’ (actually reduced to one vessel by the end; three of the four having turned back) is ‘trying to break the violent and brutal blockade of Gaza’, and protest at a ‘great cultural genocide’.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Matt Ridley: Technology, consumerism and the pope

Why are people so down on technological progress? Pope Francis complains in his new encyclical about “a blind confidence in technical solutions”, of “irrational confidence in progress” and the drawbacks of the “technocratic paradigm”. He is reflecting a popular view, held across the political spectrum, from the Unabomber to Russell Brand, that technology, consumerism and progress have been bad for people, by making them more selfish and unhappy.

But however thoroughly you search the papal encyclical (a document that does at least pay heed to science, and to evolutionary biology in particular), you will find no data to support the claim that as people have got richer they have got nastier and more miserable.

Karl du Fresne: Navigating the Kafkaesque world of Work and Income

One of the crowning accomplishments of technology is that it has enabled the government bureaucracy to place itself out of reach of the people it’s supposed to serve.
I had a brief and slightly surreal taste of this a few days ago. I had lodged an online application for national superannuation, for which I will soon become eligible. All I now needed to do was attend the local Work and Income office and present my documentation – proof of identity, that sort of stuff. To do this I needed to make an appointment.

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: Girls who like bad boys

If you’re a guy and your teenhood experience with girls was anything like mine, you’ll undoubtedly recall your ire and frustration at being ignored by the sheilas while the boorish louts whom you so despised got the female attention and, indeed, their admiration. 

And when this translated a little later into the realisation that they were ‘getting plenty’ where you got none, you probably consoled yourself with the view that at least some girls are their own worst enemy with regard to the male company they seek.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ron Smith: Boat People

We really need to decide what we want to do about refugees/immigrants, rather than making cheap points about every incident that occurs. This applies to political activists and the major media (not that there is a clear distinction between the two).

The first question concerns whether we wish to control the process or whether we are content to just let it happen.  Whatever, the history, or the particular claims, that individuals might present with, it seems to me that we would want to control the process, both in regards to numbers and individual characteristics.  This cannot be done if we simply wait until the persons concerned turn up on our shores, or appear in distress in our coastal waters (or even somewhere in our exclusive economic zone).

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sarah Taylor: Race-based plan in HB merger

A race-based Regional Planning Committee imposed upon the Hawke's Bay Regional Council by Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson has been included in the proposed five-council Hawke's Bay amalgamation without scrutiny or debate.

Residents of Hawke’s Bay have a postal vote starting August 24, 2015, to decide whether or not the Hastings, Napier, Wairoa, Central Hawke’s Bay councils, and the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, should merge as a single council with a regional planning committee, a Maori Board, and a natural resources board.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Lindsay Mitchell: Welfare state today - the good and the bad

Not widely reported in the MSM so cut and paste from the Minister:
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has introduced a bill extending the Youth Service to 19 year old parents and other 18 and 19 year olds at risk of long term welfare dependence. 
Youth Service provides intensive wrap around support for young people, getting them help with paying bills, budgeting and parenting, and supporting them into education. 
“The Youth Service has been very successful, with 86.5 per cent of clients engaged in education, training or work-based learning at the end of March 2015,” Mrs Tolley says. 

Calestous Juma from Harvard University: The Benefits of Africa's New Free Trade Area

The creation in June 2015 of a free trade area from Cape Town to Cairo is possibly the most significant event in Africa since the formation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. 

It is a grand move to merge existing regional organization into a single African Economic Community. The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) includes the 26 countries that are members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), and Southern African Community (SADC). The TFTA covers a population of 632 million and a combined GDP of $1.3 trillion. The area spans 17.3 million square kilometers, which is nearly twice the size of China or the United States.

Viv Forbes from Australia: Green Energy Steals from the Biosphere

Earth has only three significant sources of energy.

First is geothermal energy from Earth’s molten core and decaying radioactive minerals in Earth’s crust. This energy moves continents, powers volcanoes and its heat migrates towards the crust, warming the lithosphere and the deep oceans. It can be harvested successfully in favourable locations, and radioactive minerals can be extracted to provide large amounts of reliable heat for power generation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Karl du Fresne: Greedy baby-boomers? I'm not so sure

Is there anything less edifying than a debate between generations about who had it tougher? Judging by a barely civil clash on TV3’s The Nation recently, probably not.

TV3 lined up three “millennials” – members of Generations X and Y, born after 1980 – against three baby-boomers. 
The younger cohort was out to prove they had been disadvantaged by political and economic changes over their lifetime. The boomers, predictably, weren’t having a bar of it.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Mike Butler: Merger mayor and Agenda 21

Hastings merger mayor Lawrence Yule’s speech to the Commonwealth Local Government Conference in Botswana last week showed the link between local government reorganization in New Zealand and the United Nations Agenda 21 policy.

Yule is the only mayor in Hawke’s Bay to back a five-council amalgamation of the sort that was stingingly dumped in Wellington earlier this month and slowly evaporated in Northland. A final proposal for a merger in Hawke’s Bay will be voted on in September.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Nigel Lawson from the UK: The age of climate unreason

How is it that much of the Western world, and Europe in particular, has succumbed to the self-harming collective madness that is the climate change orthodoxy? It is difficult to escape the conclusion that climate change orthodoxy has in effect become a substitute religion, attended by all the intolerant zealotry that has so often marred religion in the past, and in some places still does so today.

Throughout the Western world, the two creeds that used to vie for popular support – Christianity and the atheistic belief system of Communism – are each clearly in decline. Yet people still feel the need both for the comfort and for the transcendent values that religion can provide. It is the quasi-religion of green alarmism and global salvationism, of which the climate change dogma is the prime example, that has filled the vacuum, with reasoned questioning of its mantras regarded as little short of sacrilege.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Karl du Fresne: Collins got it right, but received no thanks for it

Justice David Collins drew the short straw when he was assigned to hear Lecretia Seales’ case seeking the right to die at a time of her own choosing. He made the correct decision, ruling that it was for Parliament, not the courts, to change the law relating to assisted suicide.

He explained his decision in a thorough, carefully reasoned 55-page judgment. That he produced this document in a matter of days, hoping to deliver his decision before Seales died (which he did), was no small achievement.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: When two halves don’t make a whole – the row over Miss Japan

I don’t normally pay any attention to beauty pageants. For one thing, I can’t say that I find most of those beauty queens all that appealing – they’re pleasant enough on the eye in the way that a painting or sculpture can be, but they don’t hit the right hormonal buttons with me, if you know what I mean. Yes, this is getting about as subjective as it can get, and I’d be the first to concede that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Still, one can be objective about subjectivity, including perceptions of beauty. Most people are attracted to certain ‘types’ in the first instance and then take stock of a given individual within that frame of reference.

Frank Newman: Interest rates and local property prices

There are some pretty seismic things happening in the finance markets at present. Last week the Reserve Bank lowered the Official Cash Rate (OCR) by 0.25% and signalled further reductions are possible (the reviews are six-weekly).

My translation of the smoke signals is that things are getting pretty dire in the farming sector. Within 12 months farmers' top line revenue has halved. That's a collapse in anyone's language. This would be manageable if it were a mere blip but price collapses rarely are, and it's now looking like international dairy prices may remain low into the medium term.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Matt Ridley from the UK: FIFA and other unaccountable international fiefdoms

The Fifa fiasco is not just about football. It is also emblematic of a chronic problem with international bureaucracies of all kinds. The tendency of supranational quangos to become the personal fiefdoms of their presidents or directors-general, and to sink into lethargy or corruption, followed by brazen defiance when challenged, is not unique to Fifa or sport. It is an all too common pattern.

Fifa is an extreme example mainly because of the enormous opportunity for bribery involved in granting the right to host a vastly lucrative tournament every four years. A similar corruption scandal befell the International Olympic Committee in 1998 over its practices when awarding the Winter Games to Salt Lake City, while under the 21-year presidency of Juan Antonio Samaranch. Reform followed.

Brian Gaynor: Too much… the culture that toppled FIFA

The FIFA controversy, particularly the rise and fall of Sepp Blatter, is probably more about business, money and governance than sport. It clearly demonstrates that sporting bodies operating under a feudal system – with 19th century rules – may not have the appropriate governance structures to effectively manage large inflows of money.

It also shines the spotlight on Swiss secrecy and the criticism of the country’s banking sector for its lack of transparency.