High country ‘tenure review’ to be scrapped

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage:  Government to end tenure review

The Government will end tenure review in the South Island high country, Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.

Tenure review is a voluntary process where Crown pastoral land can be sold to a leaseholder and areas with high ecological and recreational value can be returned to full Crown ownership as conservation land.

“Tenure review has resulted in parcels of land being added to the conservation estate, but it has also resulted in more intensive farming and subdivision on the 353,000 ha of land which has been freeholded. This contributed to major landscape change and loss of habitat for native plants and animals,” said Eugenie Sage.

“Tenure review has produced a mixed bag and has been criticised for a long time. It’s not clear that the taxpayer has always got value for money.

“We want to ensure that we are good stewards of the remaining 1.2 million hectares of pastoral lease land; that farmers can farm while safeguarding the high country’s landscape, biodiversity, social, economic and cultural values for present and future generations.”

With tenure review ending, the remaining Crown pastoral lease properties, currently 171 covering 1.2 million ha of Crown pastoral land, will continue to be managed under the regulatory system for Crown pastoral lands.

An announcement about the future of Crown pastoral land management will be made on Sunday.

Ending tenure review will involve law changes to the Crown Pastoral Land Act 1998.

That act was passed during a term of the Bolger/Shipley Government, and survived both the Clark term and the Key/English term.

Charlie Mitchell (Stuff):  The slow, sorry end of tenure review

For all of its flaws, there was something comforting about the way tenure review united groups that are often in conflict.

Before it was officially canned on Thursday, it was a rare piece of public policy that had few champions on any part of the political spectrum, despite the fact it had stuck to successive governments like a sloth clinging to a falling tree branch. There was little evidence of enthusiastic support, or even a vague notion of what was meant to be accomplished.

That was certainly the conclusion of an internal review by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), released last week, which appears to have sharpened the blade for tenure review’s execution.

It was a fall from grace for a policy that had started with promise in the 1990s, when there was multi-partisan consensus between farmers, conservationists, and public access groups that it just might work. You could give farmers more control over managing the land, add to the conservation estate, and improve access to the most scenic parts of the country in one fell swoop.

That vision, in practice, strayed so far from its origins that by the time it was formally dropped, it would be hard to find a less popular policy, particularly one that had been continued by four successive governments.

Many farmers and conservationists had come to resent tenure review, albeit for different reasons; the minister responsible for LINZ, Eugenie Sage, had once called tenure review “the greatest wave of privatisation since Rogernomics” and repeatedly pointed out it had been “heavily criticised” when she announced its cancellation this week.

But the clearest sign that tenure review was done came in that internal review. There were many criticisms, but the most telling was this: The Crown “does not appear to have a clear strategic objective, other than exiting the arrangements.”

 

“He redefined the usually underpowered Vice Presidential role to affect a practical coup-by-stealth”

Requested repost:


Movie Review: VICE (2018)

“A week is a long time in politics” is a well worn phrase and is even more outdated in the age of Trump and the internet. When you have a political leader who is all about constant self-promotion and when the news cycle changes so rapidly, its hard to keep up with what’s happening. This no doubt effects collective memory too. Trump is sometimes seen as sui generis and makes his predecessors look highly capable, whether they were or not.

Its worth remembering that as little as nearly 20 years ago, people were decrying another President with shallow understanding and who had an even more devastating effect on the world. George W Bush was inarticulate and superficial and headed a regime that went to war on spurious grounds, a war that in one form or other is still going. Michael Moore has made a bio-doc of Trump, Fahrenheit 11/9 (2018) in his now very tiresome ‘gotcha’ style, but nobody has made a feature film yet. Bush received attention in W (2008) but its about time somebody went back to re-visit the period, now that a new generation has come-of-age since then. That wish has been answered in the suggestively titled film VICE (2018).

This movie doesn’t look at Bush himself, but covers the personal and to a greater degree political life of his Vice-President Dick Cheney (Christian Bale). As portrayed in this account, the still little known Cheney began life as a young tear away with intelligence but limited academic aptitude. Through the intervention of his more astute wife Lynne (Amy Adams) (not God as supposedly was the case with Bush), he turned his life around and found his way into the Washington bureaucracy. There he came under the wing of Donald Rumsfeld, played with great relish by Steve Carell as an almost ideology-free player of personal realpolitik in the scandal riddled Nixon White House.

Various ups and downs ensue, with Cheney working steadily and mole like in various positions, resurfacing briefly as a possible candidate for President himself at one point. Simply put, he was so poor in the limelight, this option was never going to be realistic. In probably the best segment of the movie, ‘Dubya’ (Sam Rockwell) appears as an alternative for President and seeks out Cheney as a Vice President. Cheney initially turns the offer down. Then in a scene that employs internal monologue and an extended visual metaphor, we see a master fisherman luring in a flashy but dumb ‘fish’ onto his line. In some ways its a bit of a blunt idea but the acting of Bale helps carry it.

The central thesis of the film when it covers the time in power is simply that it was Cheney himself who had that power. It wasn’t that he acted as some kind of Svengali or Caligari figure, controlling W as a puppet master behind the throne. The claim is more that using a highly authoritarian interpretation of executive power and a team of underlings as Machiavellian as himself, he redefined the usually underpowered Vice Presidential role to affect a practical coup-by-stealth that by-passed the normal checks and balances. How much of this is speculation and how much can be backed up, is probably still open for some debate. Even if some of it proves not to stand up, it is an interesting take on things and makes you sit up and notice all such grey, bland figures who lurk in the corridors of power around the world.

In his previous movie The Big Short (2015) Director Adam McKay took the equally important and dull subject of the prime mortgages scandal and decked the story out with a series of flashy techniques that served the story well. For example, breaking the fourth wall by having famous personalities speaking to the audience as themselves, helping to explain the otherwise banal aspects of the financial crisis. In that film it worked. Here, he resurrects similarly ostentatious methods, including an unreliable narrator who offers the viewer direct-to-camera soliloquies, a false mid-story ‘ending’ with a re-wind and most absurdly a surreal interlude where the main protagonists launch into Shakespearean dialogue while in bed. Unfortunately in this case, it works contrary to the greater good of the story and runs right up against the very effective acting Christian Bale injects into his central character. Bale has a long career and has sometimes gone overboard in his method approach. In VICE, he does a good job of portraying somebody who is largely an enigma, but holds a calm power and some of the techniques described undercut this.

To conclude, VICE is a good reminder that a power structure is an edifice with many components. It doesn’t consist solely of the flashy front-man who distracts the crowds. There are often others behind the scenes who we need to be made aware of. Despite some faults, this movie serves that important function and is worth watching to remind us that the past is still with us.

http://awsm.nz/2019/02/15/movie-review-vice-2018/

Making mountains out of malehills over advert but little defence of KiwiBuild

National enraged a bunch of people who seem to be perpetually looking for things to get enraged about with an advertisement criticising KiwiBuild that has received a huge amount of promotion from media reporting the enragement.

I do think there are a number of people active in social media who seem intent on making mountains out of malehills.

What is glaringly absent in this is a lack of defence of KiwiBuild. It is all ‘attack the messenger’ diversion.

Outrage over men holding a beer talking to women, blonds and the use of sausage quips in political clips seems like over the top attempts to sanitise everything.

Perhaps it has driven some people to tears – but how do you say anything publicly without risking annoying, enraging or devastating someone?

I’m betting tired of those arguments and attempts to PC everything – and using outrage as a way of trying to attack and discredit and divert in politics.

But there are some interesting associated issues. Did National deliberately provoke ‘progressives’ to get a sort of Streisand effect?

And, this has been all attack of National and no defence of KiwiBuild.

Danyl Mclachlan (The Spinoff):  Notes towards a grand unified theory of the terrible National Party sausage ad

Here’s my grand conspiracy theory. Progressives are actually the primary target for this ad and it is designed to offend them. Offense and controversy makes things newsworthy and earns you coverage in the mainstream media, thus potentially reaching a far greater number of viewers than National would get through making a non-controversial, non-mansplaining ad.

The way you communicate the KiwiBuild critique to the wider public – who are never going to watch a political ad in their feed, even if you boost it – is by breaching progressive rules of etiquette and provoking a controversy.

Presumably there will be more: maybe the next shocking thing will be the next National Party ad, giving online progressives the chance to spend the whole year furiously amplifying National’s talking points.

Whether National inadvertently bumbled or deliberately provoked, they got far more attention than they would have for most attempted political hits.

While are ‘progressives’ so easily riled? Concern about a fairly impotent Opposition party? Or despair that the Government has made a mess of KiwiBuild with no solution in sight?

Bradbury has a good point. On eof those claiming sexism rather than defending KiwiBuild was Phil Twyford.

Newshub: No one entered KiwiBuild ballot for Waikato development

Newshub can reveal how unpopular KiwiBuild has become: absolutely no one entered the ballot to buy any of the homes in one of the developments.

The Government’s flagship housing scheme is now at the stage where developers are offering up bribes to get people interested.

But KiwiBuild isn’t just backfiring for the Government – it’s backfiring for National too.

The party’s latest taxpayer-funded attack ad has drawn widespread criticism for showing a man explaining KiwiBuild to a woman.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said it was “clearly sexist”.

“I would think a lot of people find it offensive.”

I would think a lot more people would find Twyford’s failure with KiwiBuild of rather more concern.

There was one person reported as defending KiwiBuild:

“We as a Government are building more houses than any Government has built since the 1970s, which I have to say feels roughly about the era of that ad,” said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Don’t dare suggest that is sizzle without, ah, substance.

 

Manafort lied to prosecutors, McCabe ordered obstruction of justice probe of Trump

Two bits of major news on the ongoing ‘Russian collusion’ investigation and related legal issues relating to Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency.

Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort has been found by a judge to have “”made multiple false statements to the FBI, the OSC and the grand jury concerning matters that were material to the investigation.” This breaches a plea agreement he had made as he awaits sentencing on multiple charges.

And Andrew McCabe has revealed that as acting director of the FBI he had ordered an obstruction of justice probe into President Trump.  Trump later sacked McCabe, and as has become typical he has slammed McCabe via Twitter.

NY Times:  Manafort Found to Have Lied to Prosecutors While Under a Cooperation Agreement

A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Paul Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, had breached his plea agreement by lying multiple times to prosecutors after pledging to cooperate with the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

The decision by Judge Amy Berman Jackson of United States District Court in Washington may affect the severity of punishment that awaits Mr. Manafort. Judge Jackson is scheduled to sentence him next month on two conspiracy counts, and he is also awaiting sentencing for eight other counts in a related fraud case.

After Mr. Manafort agreed in September to cooperate with the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, the judge found, he lied about his contacts with a Russian associate during the campaign and after the election. Prosecutors claim that the associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, has ties to Russian intelligence, and have been investigating whether he was involved in Russia’s covert campaign to influence the election results.

The judge also found that Mr. Manafort had lied about a payment that was routed through a pro-Trump political action committee to cover his legal bills, and about information relevant to another undisclosed investigation underway at the Justice Department.

Mr. Manafort joins a string of former Trump aides who have been found to have lied to federal investigators about their involvement with Russians or their intermediaries, including Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser; George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser; and Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime fixer and lawyer.

I think it’s fair to wonder why so many of Trump’s associates have lied in the investigation into his campaign. Trump himself lies frequently and brazenly so those working for him could have been following his example, but lying to obstruct the investigation is legally a very serious matter – as Manafort is likely to discover when sentenced,

The judge’s ruling (CNN): Judge rules on Manafort plea deal

Meanwhile parts of a CBS Andrew McCabe interview: McCabe says he ordered the obstruction of justice probe of President Trump

Soon after speaking to President Trump about the firing of his boss James Comey, Andrew McCabe, who became the bureau’s acting director, began obstruction of justice and counterintelligence investigations involving the president and his ties to Russia. In his first television interview since his own firing, McCabe tells 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley he wanted those inquiries to be documented and underway so they would be difficult to quash without raising scrutiny.

“I was very concerned that I was able to put the Russia case on absolutely solid ground, in an indelible fashion. That were I removed quickly, or reassigned or fired, that the case could not be closed or vanish in the night without a trace.”

“I wanted to make sure that our case was on solid ground and if somebody came in behind me and closed it and tried to walk away from it, they would not be able to do that without creating a record of why they made that decision”.

In typical fashion Trump attacked the messenger:

Disgraced FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe pretends to be a “poor little Angel” when in fact he was a big part of the Crooked Hillary Scandal & the Russia Hoax – a puppet for Leakin’ James Comey. I.G. report on McCabe was devastating. Part of “insurance policy” in case I won.

Many of the top FBI brass were fired, forced to leave, or left. McCabe’s wife received BIG DOLLARS from Clinton people for her campaign – he gave Hillary a pass. McCabe is a disgrace to the FBI and a disgrace to our Country. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

A lot of irony in that.

These are the days of the lives of some of the world’s most powerful people.

Trump hasn’t attacked Manafort. It looks increasingly likely that Manafort is taking a fall for Trump to try to hide something.

Jennifer Rubin (Washington Post): Paul Manafort’s day in court spells trouble for Trump

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s lies caught up with him in federal court on Wednesday. The result was a decision that likely means, absent either a deal or a presidential pardon, he’ll spend the rest of his life in jail.

In previous court filings that were inadvertently released, we learned that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III had evidence that Manafort gave Kilimnik private polling data. This exchange, according to what federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told a federal judge last week, went “to the heart” of the Mueller investigation.

“Manafort is either the most self-destructive, irrational liar in history, or he is still protecting a secret so dark that exposing it would kill his chance for a pardon,” former Justice Department spokesman Matt Miller tells me.

This, in short, was collusion — Trump’s top campaign official giving material to a suspected agent of a hostile foreign government that the campaign had already been warned was attempting to interfere with our election. Whatever you call it — direct or indirect evidence — this now is one link proven in court between the campaign and the Russians. We know of others, of course, including the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016 designed to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s public call for Russia to go after Clinton’s emails, and more than 100 contacts between Russian figures and members of the Trump circle.

It’s difficult to think of an explanation for Manafort’s lying that doesn’t open new avenues for Mueller to explore. “There is no non-nefarious explanation for the chairman of a presidential campaign secretly meeting with a suspected Russian agent in the midst of an election that the Russians are actively trying to influence and then lying about it to the prosecutor after agreeing to cooperate.,” says Max Bergmann of the Moscow Project. “The only reason for Manafort to lie at this point is to cover up something truly devastating.”

Those speculating that Mueller is wrapping up soon better reset their clocks. With Manafort now under extreme pressure, he could for the first time tell us what exactly is the deep dark secret about Russia and the Trump operation that so many people have lied to cover up.

Perhaps, but up until now there has been no indication that Manafort will open up. Perhaps he sees no chance of anything other than a lifetime sentence regardless. Or perhaps he is banking on a pardon from Trump – but that would open up another big area of concern in the US.

 

Media watch – Friday

15 February 2019

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

Social chat

“Is there any way we could have a thread for the more lightweight stuff like music and general chat?”

Do it here. Social only, no politics, issues or debate.

Please no personal attacks or bickering. Anything abusive, provocative or inflammatory may be deleted.

Open Forum – Friday

15 February 2019

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you, or you think may interest others.. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts. Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts. Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few, first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria. If they pass muster they will be released as soon as possible (it can sometimes take hours).

World view – Friday

Thursday GMT

WorldWatch2

For posting on events, news, opinions and anything of interest from around the world.

Reserve Bank predictions about KiwiBuild – very slow, and crowding out private development

Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr has said that the Reserve Bank predicts a very slow start to the KiwiBuild programme – that’s hardly a prediction, it appears to be current reality – and also that due to lack of capacity much of the numbers eventually built may simply replace what private builders would have constructed.

RNZ: Reserve Bank predicts KiwiBuild will crowd out private building, progress slowly

The Reserve Bank has sounded a warning that the government’s KiwiBuild programme is likely to crowd out other private house building, because the construction industry simply doesn’t have enough capacity.

Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr told MPs on Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure committee this morning KiwiBuild would need time to fully pick up momentum.

“It will be a very slow start, which it has proved to be, we haven’t had to change our forecasts much over the last six months,” Mr Orr said.

The Reserve Bank report said the sector was struggling to find enough skilled and non-skilled labour to meet demand.

“Capacity constraints are restricting firms’ ability to meet that demand.

“The ability of the construction sector to build additional houses therefore depends on whether these constraints can be eased.”

That meant resources were limited, which could impact on private investment, Mr Orr.

“It would crowd out resources if you’re chasing for land building activity etc then you have compete to build KiwiBuild versus something else”.

According to the bank’s estimates that would mean for every 100 KiwiBuild homes built, 50 to 70 houses would not be built elsewhere, Mr Orr said.

This isn’t a new idea either.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the Reserve Bank’s estimates were just “one more projection” and that he was not “fussed all at” about them.

He agreed with the concerns about capacity constraints.

“We’ve inherited some real difficulties in the construction industry, it’s both a lack of workforce, firms that have trouble scaling up, low productivity, lack of access to land.”

Twyford and Labour should have known that before they made bold promises.

NZ Herald – KiwiBuild warning: Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr warns scheme ‘crowding out’ private sector

But Finance Minister Grant Robertson appeared to be at odds the central bank’s estimates and said Orr’s forecast was “certainly challengeable”.

Robertson did not seem to agree with Orr’s data when questioned this morning.

“Whether or not I accept that that is the level of crowding out is certainly challengeable, as we have had other advice.”

Robertson would not say what level of crowding out the Government was expecting; only that the Government’s goal was to add “significantly to the housing stock”.

The aim of KiwiBuild was to promote the building of affordable housing, the Finance Minister said.

I don’t think there is any sign so far that Kiwibuild is making housing more affordable.

The project has been trying to get promised numbers of houses built (dismally) but this focus doesn’t seem to have done much if anything to address the costs of building and the lack of available land (that also contributes to the cost of land).

“If we are starting to shift where some of the development is to more affordable, more affordable homes for first home buyers, that’s good.”

Note that he says ‘if’, not that that is what is actually happening.

The Government has a lot of work to do to prevent this from being both a big embarrassment and a costly failure.

Study finds cannabis linked to increased risks for teenagers

Research that combined the results of 11 studies has found an association (but not a causal link) between cannabis use and ‘low to moderate’ mental health issues and risks of suicide amongst teenagers.

It is still not certain whether cannabis use causes increased risks, or whether people at higher risk are more likely to use cannabis (as self medication or as an escape).

NZ Herald:  New study of 23,000 teen cannabis smokers confirms link to later mental health problems

Cannabis use during adolescence is linked to an increased risk of depression and suicidal behaviour in young adulthood, a new study has found.

But the level of increased risk of depression and suicidal thoughts and attempts found in United States study is only low to moderate. No link was found to anxiety.

The research combines the results of 11 separate studies published over the past 15 years that together included more than 23,000 adolescent cannabis smokers and assessed their mental health when aged 18 to 32. People with prior depression were excluded.

“This review both confirms and reinforces findings from the research literature on the adverse psychological effects of regular cannabis use by mid- to late adolescents,” said Dr Joe Boden, the deputy director of the University of Otago’s Christchurch long-term health and development study.

“The findings of this [US] study further reinforce our concerns about the public health implications of any changes we may choose to make to cannabis laws in New Zealand,” Boden told the Science Media Centre.

Boden has written previously that there is growing evidence that regular or heavy use of cannabis may increase risks of: mental health problems, other forms of illicit drug use, dropping out of school and educational underachievement, and car crashes and injuries.

The new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, does not state how much cannabis the research participants smoked, which is considered a significant omission.

And the study type could not show causal links. British experts have pointed out that as well as cannabis possibly affecting later mental health, it is plausible that people prone to mental health problems are more likely to smoke cannabis.

Dr Lindsey Hines, of the University of Bristol, said it was already known that using cannabis coincided with anxiety, depression and self-harm in teenagers.

While the US study suggested a link between early cannabis use and later issues, “we don’t know if cannabis use as a teenager is causing these adult mental health problems.

“It could be that these behaviours are all due to shared underlying risk factors, such as early adversity or genetics.”

Professor Sir Robin Murray, a psychiatry researcher at King’s College London, said that although the modest risk increase found in the US study was probably real, better-quality studies had found cannabis use increased the risk of schizophrenia-like psychosis more than the risk of depression or anxiety.

He also noted limitations in the US study, including that the researchers had not specified the quantity or type of cannabis smoked.

So this new super-study adds to the information available, but leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

Risks to teenagers of alcohol use is a reason that alcohol sales are restricted to those under 18.

It should also be noted that many teenagers are already using cannabis, so whether cannabis is decriminalised or not needs to consider whether that would increase (or decrease) cannabis use amongst teenagers.

And any drug is potentially harmful to people of any age – as well as being potentially beneficial ib some circumstances.