Open Forum Monday

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).

Advance party to where?

The Advance Party may be the opposite of an advance in New Zealand politics. Their main aim seems to be to advance as many crazy conspiracy theories as possible.

But they have attracted thousands of followers, as evidenced by an anti-Covid rally in Auckland yesterday, which defied the level 2.5 restrictions currently in place in Auckland.

RNZ: Advance Party and crowd rallies against Covid-19 restrictions and lockdowns

A crowd of a few thousand packed in Auckland’s Aotea Square this afternoon, at the “National Rally for Freedom”, organised by Advance Party co-leaders, Jami Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika.

There was little social distancing and few people in the crowd wearing masks.

When the rally was finished, the large group continued its protest down Auckland’s Queen Street before returning to Aotea Square.

There were a number of police present at the rally; they refused to comment when approached by RNZ and asked whether there were any concerns about social distancing given the size of the crowd.

In a statement to RNZ later, police said with today’s event it was “possible that attempts to enforce Alert Level restrictions would have caused tension in an otherwise peaceful protest, without being effective in managing physical distancing of participants”.

That pretty much gives any protesters a green light to do what they like regardless of lockdown laws and rules.

It is disgraceful that a current Member of Parliament be blatantly behind breaking the law, but Ross has disgraced himself a number of times already so this is just another step downwards for him. His chances of being re-elected in Botany are miniscule so he seems to be hoping Te Kahika’s popularity will get him back into Parliament.

But how popular? Several thousand at a rally is a significant number, and there will be more supporters around the country, but they would need somewhere around 150,000 votes to make the 5% threshold (last election ACT got 13,075 votes for just 0.5% and Greens got 162,443 votes for 6.27%).

Even if they made history and the threshold, their influence in Parliament would likely be small. Labour would be extremely unlikely to do a coalition or confidence and supply deal with Advance NZ, and Advance NZ would be hugely hypocritical to even attempt to work with Labour.

Somme of their prominent COVID-19 Response Policy but it is laced with highly questionable claims. Their opening paragraph:

The COVID-19 virus has led nations around the world to take radical action to prevent its spread. In New Zealand, the Labour government has adopted an approach of eradication at any cost. That strategy has failed.

They are basically saying that “nations around the world” are wrong and they are right with untested claims.

The approach here hasn’t been “at any cost”, and it has been relatively successful both health-wise and economically so far.

In the false hope of eradicating the virus, we now face Labour’s Second Wave of Lockdowns. There is no end in sight for the current lockdown or for ending COVID-19 restrictions at lower levels. Labour’s plan is for years of rolling lockdowns.

I haven’t seen Labour state anything like that. Most countries including New Zealand are hoping that a vaccine will be available in the next year or so.

As new information is learned about COVID-19, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the fatality rate of the virus is considerably lower than first predicted. In the early stages of COVID-19 entering New Zealand, fear spread with many believing mass deaths would take place.

First predictions were widely variable based on limited information and based on a range of approaches.

Predictions where that doing nothing to limit Covid, as Advance NZ seem to be promoting, would likely

Initial predictions of death have not materialised around the world, and COVID-19’s  case fatality rate is not unlike that of seasonal influenza. Flu or colds have never been eradicated, and attempts to do so have proved futile. The WHO and GAVI are predicting a similar situation for COVID-19, and it looks like we will have to learn to live with it and find ways to protect our most vulnerable without shutting down society.  (https://www.gavi.org/vaccineswork/could-covid-19-ever-be-eradicated)

That’s an odd claim considering what is prominent on the gavi.org home page:

#VaccinesWork

Vaccines are one of the most successful and cost-effective health investments in history with wider benefits that accrue across a lifetime.

Keep informed about the latest topics in global health, including top stories related to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Also from Gavi: How COVID–19 is leading to famine and a ‘hunger pandemic’

COVID-19 has infected more than 27 million people, killing nearly 900,000 of them. As well as this devastating impact on people’s lives and health, there has been significant collateral damage from the pandemic – especially hunger and malnutrition, putting the lives of millions more at risk.

10 September 2020

That seems to be the opposite of what Advance NZ claim and promote. They also claim:

The reasonable question to ask now is – what long -term economic, social, and health costs will New Zealanders face…

That is a reasonable question to ask….

…in a futile effort to eradicate COVID-19 – a virus we now know we can manage as a nation without losing considerable freedoms?

…but it is followed by a claim that they can’t know. They don’t cite any examples anywhere in the world where Covid has been managed without losing any freedoms.

From their Policy in Brief:

Implement a risk-based approach where vulnerable citizens are protected and supported, but all others are free to continue daily life.

By segregating ‘vulnerable citizens’ from ‘all others’? That doesn’t sound like freedom for either group.

Their website tries to sound reasonable and considered but is littered with highly questionable claims and has major flaws in thinking.

Advance NZ is unlikely to make the MMP cut, and even if they did they would unlikely have much if any influence on policy.

But by promoting defiance of lockdown rules they are actually putting the rest of us at risk of more spread of Covid, and more lockdowns.

Open Forum Sunday

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).

How Ardern, Collins make people feel

I think that most people probably vote more on feelings on leaders than on policies or party lists.

This shows why the Labour campaign is based on the personality of Ardern.

It also shows what an uphill battle Collins has to make an impression (I think that Collins has done ok in ways but has been disappointing).

Interestingly Collins hasn’t fared well compared to Bridges, who struggled against Ardern and struggled to look like a competent leader.

Ardern has slightly reduced the negatives and significantly increased the positives since Covid struck.

New Zealand Covid comparison

Worldwide Covid cases may have peaked but new daily cases are still running at 2-300,000 a day, and deaths are still averaging over five thousand a day.

Total cases are over 28 million, and total deaths over 900,000.

New Zealand has generally been praised over our dealing with Covid. We tend to quibble over relatively minor restrictions, and a small resurgence, but comparatively we have done very well to date.

This is how New Zealand ranks with the world (on Worldometer which includes some regions as well as countries):

  • Population: 5,002,100 – 122nd
  • Active cases: 114 – 160th
  • Total cases: 1,793 (includes probable) – 150th
  • Cases per 1 million population: 358 – 164th
  • Total deaths: 24 – 152nd
  • Deaths per 1 million population: 4.8 – 160th
  • Total tests: 848,420 – 59th
  • Tests per 1 million population: 169,313 – 37th

This shows that we are doing relatively well, and I think we can be assured that our statistics are reasonably accurate.

There are 213 countries or territories on the list so quite a few have better statistics, but some of those may not be as complete or accurate.

But we have relatively minor things to complain about here.

Jobs and businesses and the economy are issues and we may not have seen the worst effects yet, but so far things aren’t too bad.

Trump misled public about Covid, blamed China, now Woodward

Donald Trump has been exposed yet again for misleading the public, this time about the severity of Covid. He blamed China for doing what he did (blame diversion is typical of Trump), and now he is trying to blame Bob Woodward for not revealing his misinformation sooner.

Back in April Trump warns of consequences ‘if China responsible’

US President Donald Trump has warned China that it should face consequences if it was “knowingly responsible” for the coronavirus pandemic, as he ratcheted up criticism of Beijing over its handling of the outbreak.

“It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn’t, and the whole world is suffering because of it,” Trump told a daily White House briefing.

It could have been far less worse in the US if Trump had been transparent and honest about the severity of Covid, and had acted faster and more decisively. Instead he fostered a culture of Covid denial in the US, and this affected how many states dealt with the virus – inadequately until it had already spread and killed many people.

Trump and senior aides have accused China of a lack of transparency after the coronavirus broke out late last year in its city of Wuhan. 

Bob Woodward has just revealed that Trump was far from transparent about what he knew.

Trump also again cast doubt on China’s death toll, which was revised up on Friday. China said 1,300 people who died of the coronavirus in Wuhan – half the total – were not counted, but dismissed allegations of a cover-up.

The United States has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 720,000 infections and over 37,000 deaths.

In May Trump harshly blames China for pandemic; a lab ‘mistake’?

In recent days the Trump administration has sharpened its rhetoric on China, accusing the geopolitical foe and vital trading partner of failing to act swiftly enough to sound the alarm about the outbreak or to stop the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

That pretty much describes how Trump mishandled it in the US.

US officials have said the Chinese government should “pay a price“ for its handling of the pandemic

The US has paid a huge price – they now total 6.6 million cases and have had nearly 200,000 deaths attributed to Covid.

Now from NPR: Woodward Book Casts New Light On Trump’s Fight With WHO

President Trump has publicly blamed the World Health Organization for being slow to sound alarm bells about the coronavirus.

“On March 3, 2020, the World Health Organization cited official Chinese data to downplay the very serious risk of asymptomatic spread, telling the world that ‘COVID- 19 does not transmit as efficiently as influenza.’ ” Trump wrote, in a May 18 letter addressed to WHO leadership. “It is now clear that China’s assertions, repeated to the world by the World Health Organization, were wildly inaccurate.”

“Many lives could have been saved” had WHO warned the world earlier, Trump wrote. Later that month, he announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the global health agency.

Now, taped conversations between the president and journalist Bob Woodward, as reported in the forthcoming book Rage, indicate that in early February, Trump was well aware of the dangers of the coronavirus and chose to downplay the public health threat to Americans.

“This is deadly stuff,” Trump told Woodward in a Feb. 7 conversation. “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”

For public health expert Jeremy Konydyk, the conversations clearly demonstrate that the president has been scapegoating WHO for failures of his administration. “These tapes make clear that the very things that the president was accusing WHO of failing to share, specifically the lethality and the transmissibility of this virus, were things he was already well aware of,” says Konyndyk.

Scapegoating WHO, scapegoating China, while Trump was making the mistakes he was accusing them of.

Trump told Woodward in a subsequent interview in March that he was downplaying the virus’s severity to avoid panic — a point he reiterated at a news conference September 10. “I don’t want to jump up and down and start screaming, ‘Death! Death!'” the president said.

But public health experts say the president’s attempts to reassure the public have had the opposite effect. “If you want the public to remain reasonably calm, if you want them not to be confused and uncertain, you tell them the truth,” says Lawrence Gostin, head of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and director of a WHO collaborating center on global health law.

Gostin believes that public trust is gained when “you level with the American population” and tell what’s known about a situation, what’s still unclear and when and how the uncertainties will be resolved. Instead, when “the World Health Organization said it was serious and Trump downplayed it — that’s a recipe for fear and panic,” he says.

Trump fomented and encouraged and promoted an anti-Covid movement in the US.

And typically Trump denies lying about risks of coronavirus

He tweeted on Thursday that Woodward did not report his quotes for months. “He knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!”

Later he told reporters he never lied, when they suggested he deliberately misled the American public on how dangerous the virus was.

In a White House news conference on Thursday afternoon, he said in response to a reporter’s question: “I didn’t lie, what I said is we have to be calm, we can’t be panicked.”

That’s not what he said. He deliberately downplayed the severity of Covid, which encouraged many people to downplay the severity including to deny it was a problem aat all and should be virtually ignored.

He added: “I don’t want to jump up and down and start screaming, ‘death, death’, because that’s not what it’s about.”

That’s a stupid statement.

“Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives?” Mr Trump said.

“Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!”

And true to form, when challenged on his bullshitting, he blamed the messenger, and also claimed Woodward supported his bull.

This won’t stop people devoutly supporting Trump while stoutly disputing the severity of Covid.

Woodward has been criticised by others as well.

Woodward has been criticised for withholding the president’s remarks on the pandemic, with some saying it was an unethical decision.

The journalist offered a defence in the Washington Post and Associated Press on Wednesday, saying he needed to check whether what Mr Trump told him was accurate.

“The biggest problem I had, which is always a problem with Trump, is I didn’t know if it was true,” Woodward told The Post.

That’s always been a problem with Trump. People tend to just believe what they want to believe because Trump lies and distorts the truth so much.

Woodward’s book, Rage, will be released on 15 September.

Open Forum Saturday

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).

Government warns about ‘fake news’ and ‘misinformation’ on Covid

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins has warned against ‘fake news’ and ‘misinformation’ on Covid, saying it risked extending transmission of the virus, and that risked keeping the country in level 2. This put freedoms and jobs and businesses at risk.

RNZ: Public warned as fake news, misinformation, conspiracy theories threaten Covid-19 response

Fake news, misinformation and conspiracy theories are threatening to derail the country’s Covid-19 response and impede progress to alert level 1.

The government has sounded a strong warning after revealing people linked to the Mt Roskill church cluster were sceptical about the seriousness of the pandemic – while a researcher is raising the alarm about far-right groups and fringe political leaders also entering the fray.

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins fronted this afternoon’s Covid-19 briefing with a plea to “think twice before sharing information that can’t be verified”.

He said looking overseas, it was plain to see the coronavirus was “very, very real” and “very, very deadly”, with no vaccine – and while he wanted a co-operative approach, he did not rule out punitive measures for people who continue to deliberately spread lies.

It follows warnings that some church groups are facing a battle to deter the spread of false information among their communities.

Sociologist Paul Spoonley had his eye on tertiary institutions and groups with far-right views setting up on campuses who were “talking to those suggestible, who are keen to hear about alternative views”.

“They are certainly spreading misinformation about various aspects of the pandemic and who is behind it,” he said.

The other source of rumours that worried Spoonley was fringe political leaders.

I certainly don’t want the country and myself put at risk by bullshit peddlers.

So, should I not allow anyone to promote conspiracy ‘theories’ or false information or claims without evidence here on Covid?

Perhaps I have a responsibility to do something like this.

The freedom to promote different views, and to discuss and debate topical issues is important here.

But I need to draw a line and not allow the promotion of ignorant or deliberate misinformation or false or unsupported claims that could be damaging to our communities and country.

I probably won’t get too drastic, but I may do more to hold to account those who make dubious claims or promote obvious bullshit.

This means that suspect comments may be parked until I have time to deal with them.

So take this as a warning from me. Open discussion does not mean open slather to promoters of bullshit, or of claims not supported by credible evidence.

I really can’t be bothered with anti-social messaging here. I have to decide what is fake or false versus genuine discussion, but I will change my approach on this. I’d rather err towards responsibility here, which is on me rather than on commenters.

Shaw sort of talks tough on tax and other coalition demands

Following a ‘pledge’ by Grant Robertson that tax-wise Labour “we will only implement the changes that Labour is campaigning on” next term – see Labour’s underwhelming tax policy – Green leader James Shaw sort of talked tough, saying Greens would consider not forming a coalition if they didn’t get what they wanted.

Shaw said that a wealth tax would be ‘a top priority’ when asked if it would be a bottom line.

Stuff: Labour rules out Green Party’s wealth tax in any Government it forms

The Labour Party has ruled out implementing the Green Party’s wealth tax.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said no new taxes or other changes to income tax would be introduced in the term.

He was asked if that included proposals from possible coalition partners, such as the Green Party who are campaigning on a substantial wealth tax on millionaires.

“This is Labour’s tax policy. We are committing to not implementing anything other than this if we are in Government,” Robertson said.

He was asked again if this meant he was ruling out giving some ground to the Green Party in possible coalition talks.

“What I’m saying is that this is the policy that Labour is campaigning on, and we will only implement the changes that Labour is campaigning on,” Robertson said.

Polling consistently over 50% Labour can probably afford to talk as if they will be in a position to do what they like next term, which is nowhere near enough on tax, certainly not transformational or reforming.

But Greens are desperate for votes to get them over the threshold to keep them in Parliament, and need to move support from Labour to do that, so are trying something they have done little of before, talking tough.

ODT/NZH: Greens prepared to play hard ball on forming next Government

The Greens are prepared to forego a coalition or confidence and supply arrangement and sit on the crossbenches if post-election talks do not go their way.

Co-leader James Shaw made the comments on Thursday, saying the only post-election deal that was off the table completely was one which would give National power.

However, he said if the Greens held the balance of power it was “always a possibility” that it would walk away from negotiations with Labour if they could not get the gains they wanted.

If there was no coalition or confidence and supply agreement, that would force a minority Labour government to seek the Greens’ support for legislation on a case-by-case basis.

He wouldn’t say what the Greens’ bottom lines in those talks were, but said a wealth tax was a “top priority”.

First the Greens have to get enough votes to get back into Parliament. They also need to hope that Labour don’t get enough votes to have a one party majority (which would enable them to do as they please).

And they also have to learn to do tough negotiations, something they seem unfamiliar with. Within the Green Party they make decisions by consensus, which is quite a different skill to doing inter-party coalition negotiations.

Time will tell whether they get enough votes, and if the do whether they can walk the tough talk.

Shaw also made other indications of demands.

He would also be pushing for co-leader Marama Davidson to be a minister and suggested a Green MP hold the agriculture portfolio.

If Greens are in coalition then Davidson should be one of their ministers, bu this is a different approach to this term when they chose for Davidson to lead from outside Government.

I’d be very surprised if Labour gave Greens the agriculture portfolio.

Shaw said a new Labour-led government would need to be in partnership with the Greens for it to be truly transformational.

“I think, in the next Parliament if Labour and the Greens are able to form a government together, then you will see a truly progressive government for New Zealand.”

The Greens need to push this line to take votes from Labour, but it provides ammunition to opponents, who will say that their are risks with a Labour+Green government getting radical, but there’s been no sign of Labour going anywhere near radical. Instead they look very centrist conservative.

If the Greens were in a position to negotiate a post-election deal, Shaw said it would be up to the party’s members to give any deal the nod.

It makes tough negotiations difficult if the negotiators have to refer to party members to confirm and deals.

Shaw:

“If you look at the policies we have released so far … those give you an indication of where we want to be able to play a role in government.”

He went on to specifically name-check its wealth tax policy as well as its minimum income scheme, clean energy and its upcoming agriculture policy.

Asked if the Greens wealth tax plan was a “bottom line,” Shaw said that it was a “top priority”.

Labour have made it clear it is not an option at all for them.

Greens have some tough times ahead. First they have to make it back into Parliament. Then if they do they have to hope Labour don’t have a majority. They will also hope NZ First are out of the reckoning in coalition negotiations.

If they are in a position to negotiate they then have to see if tough talk can become tough negotiations.

One risk for the Greens with Shaw’s stance – if Labour get enough votes to give them a majority on their own they can do what they like with tax policy, and can hardly roll over on it for the Greens.

If this happens the Greens have virtually ruled themselves out of being included in Government if Labour offers that option.

Open Forum Friday

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).