World watch – Saturday

Friday GMT


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

Roy Morgan poll – August 2017

The latest Roy Morgan poll (NOTE: it is actually more out of date than the recent Colmar Brunton poll):

  • National 42.5% (down from 43)
  • Labour 32.5% (up from 30.5)
  • Greens 9% (down from 13.5)
  • NZ First 11.5% (up from 8)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (no change)
  • ACT Party 0.5% (down from 1)
  • United Future 0%
  • Conservative Party 0%
  • Other 2.5% (no change) – will include TOP

Polling period 31 July-13 August.

The Colmar Brunton poll was 12-16 August.

Turei stepped down as Green co-leader on 9 August.


Are unattractive women more likely to be bloggers?

I know that the question in the heading is ridiculous.

What about  Are unattractive women more likely to be radical feminists?

WARNING:  I am about to compare and contrast the physical appearance of female speakers at a recent Auckland University debate.

I suggest that there may be another reason why so many men are drawn to support the Pro-Life movement. Perhaps it is because that is where all the feminine and ” hot” girls are (just a theory).

Just a stupid theory. And “why so many men are drawn to support the Pro-Life movement” is also unsubstantiated nonsense.

In most situations male opinions on abortion are quite similar to female opinions, with the majority supporting abortion or unsure about it.

See  2017 National Abortion Poll Results (Curia poll)

I have no idea what SB at Whale Oil looks like and I don’t want to know, but what she posted looks like ugly click bait to me.

It’s a nasty way to abuse people based on a judgement of their appearance because one disagrees with their views.

It looks like a try-hard attempt to be un-PC and to appeal to an ugly audience.


Labour’s new billboards

It’s hard to believe that Labour could change so markedly. They have even come up with some quite reasonable billboards.

They look much better than their old ones. Simple and effective.

Bizarre Trump response to Barcelona

Donald Trump’s initial response to the vehicle attack in Barcelona was fairly standard for a world leader…

…except for the very American ‘we love you’ close.

But three quarters of an hour later he followed up with:

As well as being bizarre, it is bull.

From The Guardian live feed:

Donald Trump responded to the Barcelona attack be reviving an already debunked anecdote about a US general dipping bullets in pig’s blood to fight Islamic militants over a hundred years ago.

The tweet echoed a highly dubious claim Trump made at an election rally in South Carolina in February 2016, in which he talked admiringly about a counter-insurgency in the Philippines conducted by General John Pershing between 1909 and 1913, when he was governor of Moro province.

He said at the rally:

They were having terrorism problems, just like we do. And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men and he dipped 50 bullets in pigs’ blood — you heard that, right? He took 50 bullets, and he dipped them in pigs’ blood. And he had his men load his rifles, and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said: You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened. And for 25 years, there wasn’t a problem. Okay? Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem.

This account of Pershing’s actions has circulated on the internet since 2001, but US historians say there is very little if any evidence to support it.

As well as being bull and boorish, it further demonstrates Trump”s pig ignorance about how a world leader needs to conduct themselves.

Terrorists and potential terrorists are likely to be unaffected by his tweet, but those who can make a difference in the battle against radical Islamic terrorism are unlikely to be encouraged by Trump’s behaviour.

A conspiracy theorist is a of bit risk as supposed leader of the free world.

If Trump confines himself to unfounded claims on Twitter he may not do much damage apart from further denting US credibility, but the real risk is if he uses one of his conspiracy theories to justify military action.

Ardern’s adjournment speech

Jacinda Ardern, buoyed by Labour’s resurgence, led the Opposition with her adjournment speech in Parliament yesterday.

In part at least she was relentlessly positive: “Now, as far as I am concerned, yes, they say in politics that campaigns are lost by those Governments that are in charge, but this time this election will be won by us because this is our moment. ”

It certainly seems to be her moment, at the moment at least. We will see whether she can maintain the momentum for the next five weeks.

JACINDA ARDERN (Leader of the Opposition): Them there are fighting words, and I have to say I take the fact that the speaker who just resumed his seat spent 80 percent of his time talking about the Labour Party as some kind of awkward flattery. But an adjournment speech does come with some tradition and so I do want to spend some time acknowledging, as is tradition, those who support us in this House over the course of a term.

Mr Speaker, you are amongst those, as is the Clerk of the House, the Office of the Clerk staff, the Table Office, the Bills Office, Hansard, interpretation, select committee staff, parliamentary relations—basically, to everyone who is forced to listen to MPs and their words and their discourse, we, of course, owe our thanks. There are the buildings team, contractor staff, the Serjeant-at-Arms, security, our wonderful messengers, Parliamentary Library.

A special thanks to the Datacom team who I know share my relentless positivity in the face of great adversity—of great adversity. There are Epicure staff, the cleaning staff, Parliamentary Service, and my team of Clare-Louise Chapman, my senior private secretary who has gone through dramatic change in recent times; Neale Jones and the leader’s office team; Emma Williams, the whips and whip’s office team, MPs, executive assistants, and our out-of-office staff. They are a group of people in this country who are the front-line of democratic services. They are the ones without whom people’s voices would not be heard.

We own them our debt of thanks and we say to all of them “We’ll see you soon, even if it’s on the other side of the House.”

Today marks the end of the parliamentary term but the beginning of the campaign of our lives. This campaign is not about victory for the sake of it. Campaigns have never been about just the race or the run/walk, because winning is not the destination. Campaigns are about change. They are about what is possible, and 23 September marks opportunity and the 24 September marks the beginning—it marks the beginning.

Now, as far as I am concerned, yes, they say in politics that campaigns are lost by those Governments that are in charge, but this time this election will be won by us because this is our moment. This is our moment to show that even if the odd New Zealander feels OK or even if they feel indifferent we can be better. This Government has achieved what it came to do and now it is time to do things differently.

That means we do not have to accept having the highest homelessness in the OECD. We do not need to accept that. We do not have to accept declining homeownership, as the Government has done. We do not have to accept that it will be a given that children, particularly in winter, will do their homework in a car by torchlight. We also do not have to accept that there will be families who are now at Te Puea Marae—and I acknowledge the work that they do, but they have families, and a family there in particular, a mother of nine, who thinks it is her fault that she has lost her rental accommodation. That is a family in work who cannot find housing. That—we do not have to accept. We do not have to accept the highest teen suicide rates in the OECD or children not being able find mental health care, and we certainly do not accept 70,000 young people not being in employment, education, or training. It will never be a given for this party that 60 percent of our rivers will be degraded and unswimmable. That will never, ever be acceptable on our watch.

We believe things can be better, and under Labour they will be better. We can make homeownership possible again by building homes, by banning foreign overseas buyers from investing in our residential market and by closing tax loopholes. We can house the homeless. That means stopping selling State houses and actually building some State houses and making sure we have emergency beds. We can give young people work and hope through Ready for Work and through investing back in employers to take on apprentices again. It is a simple initiative but one that they have supported and asked for. On mental health, something I feel particularly strongly about, why cannot we start with nurses in every school and 80 full-time professionals in Christchurch working with kids who need it most? Why cannot we do that? When it comes to our rivers we will not accept that it is too hard. We will not accept that and we will not accept a position that we simply sit back and allow this degradation to continue. We have set our standards and our sights higher no matter how hard that proposition might be.

While we will continue to talk about what is possible on this side of the House and how we can be better, you are probably going to hear a little bit of scaremongering during this campaign. In fact, you may or may not have just heard 10 minutes of it from the previous speaker, Mr Brownlee. There is not only scaremongering—I do not mean to use such disparaging language about Mr Brownlee—but you will hear policies that do not even exist being thrown around this House and thrown around this debate.

You will hear, as well, that lifting everyone will come at the cost of the economy, and that our view that we can lift everyone and have a more prosperous nation will come at the cost of the economy. From us, you will hear different. We do not have to accept falling GDP per capita. If you want to talk about the economy, Mr Brownlee, let us talk about the economy.

We have to make sure that a strong economy means people feeling better off. Currently having two-thirds of people in work, with wage packets that are not keeping pace with inflation is unacceptable to the Labour Party—that is unacceptable to the Labour Party. A strong economy is not just measured by GDP, it is measured by how people fare. And if you ask New Zealanders whether or not they feel better off and whether they are going forwards or backwards, I can predict the answer that they will give you.

If you want to talk about the economy this election, then “game on”—”game on”. On the Labour side, we actually have an intention to lift our economic sights and, Mr Brownlee, that starts by talking about productivity. In fact, the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Brian Fallow, and Bernard Doyle from JBWere, just in the last week, have all raised the fact that productivity in New Zealand is hugely problematic, and this Government has done nothing about it—absolutely nothing about it. This is where our weakness and our vulnerability lie. Where is the investment in lifting the skills of our workers? Where is the focus on the threat that automation presents for our workforce?

We should be making sure that education is not just a destination but a conveyor belt that we dip in and dip out of. That is why Labour has promoted 3 years of free tertiary, polytech, apprenticeship, or industry training for our workforce, because of our failure to improve our productivity. It is about educating our workforce.

It is about investing in our regions—they are our forgotten voters Mr Brownlee. They are absolutely our forgotten voters. I ask you: when was the last time you visited Gisborne? When was the last time you asked there, Mr Brownlee, about the investment in regional economic development? We will partner with councils and economic development agencies to deliver projects that will deliver jobs.

Finally, some of the worst investment in innovation relative to other countries we compare ourselves to—and that is another reason why our productivity is not lifting. We need an R & D tax credit. That will give certainty to businesses when they are investing in their future and in our future.

We can do all of that together—all of that together—and I do not accept that when it comes to the economy that the status quo is acceptable. We have lifted our sights higher. We want to work with business, with employers, and with employees on making sure that our economy delivers for everyone. We are not satisfied. New Zealand can be better. We can all be better. The Government can be better. And our intent is, on 23 September, we will show just how much better we can be, so “Let’s Do This”.

National’s adjournment speech

For some reason Prime Minister didn’t lead the adjournment speeches in the final day of the term in Parliament yesterday. Neither did his deputy Paula Bennett. Instead it was the lower ranked Gerry Brownlee who spoke on behalf of National.


Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Minister of Foreign Affairs): I move, That the House do now adjourn until Tuesday, 29 August 2017. Before I go too much further, I would like to take a few moments to thank the many people who need to be thanked as this Parliament draws to its conclusion. There is of course the Speaker himself, yourself as Assistant Speaker, and the Hon Trevor Mallard also assisting in that regard. I want to thank also, particularly, Chester Borrows for his contribution in that regard. The many presiding officers—and I want to congratulate the Clerk for his successful transition into that role during this particular parliamentary term and wish him all the best for future Parliaments. I would like to thank those who clean and cater the precinct, those who keep it secure, the drivers, and a range of other attendants who do work to make this Parliament work.

Then there are the teams of people who help us in our electorates, in our ministerial offices, and in our parliamentary offices in order that we are able to do that work that we are required to do on behalf New Zealanders. I want to say to all involved that your efforts are very much appreciated.

What a fascinating 3 weeks we have seen in New Zealand politics—plenty of downs, plenty of downs, and one or two ups, but overall a big question about the confidence and the capability of Opposition parties to be anywhere near Government in this country. There is no doubt, though, we have got to acknowledge, we are seeing the rise of a political star in the new Leader of the Opposition—a star in the sense of being right. I understand that Jacinda Ardern is intelligent, that she is competent, and that by all accounts she is a pleasant person to be around. She is a likable person, but a likable person does not necessary translate into a strong political leader.

As she said yesterday, herself, she has been caught between a rock and hard place. She was talking about being caught between Ayers Rock and New Zealand. But let me make it very clear that the rock she is caught between is in fact her own caucus, her own political colleagues, because apart from the new smiley face, nothing has changed at all—nothing has changed at all.

And then, of course, it is very obvious that the hard place is the great record of the National Government over the last terms of Parliament. Without question, that record has been exceptional, in my opinion, and in the opinion of a large number of people, as this Parliament will learn later this evening. A sustainably growing economy and a low-inflation, low-interest environment, with strong employment and rising wages, is important to all New Zealanders.

The Leader of the Opposition and her party lack the depth that is capable of ensuring that that economic direction continues in the best interests of New Zealand. It is the one area where they do not want to have a discussion. The product of a strong, stable, confident Government is that it is able to serve the communities it represents. So there is the hard place for Labour. It is the place where you get the opportunity to show that you care for New Zealanders by doing things. It is where they get their financial security, where they get their welfare security, where they get their safety security, where they get their health security and their education security, and their general prosperity and opportunity in life. It is from the economy, and that is what Labour does not want to talk about.

I will tell you what. We are going to get a speech shortly, and I will bet the economy does not feature, other than to have a look at it with a bit of a squinted eye, from a bit of a distance, and to simply say: “We could do it better.” It is hard work—it is hard work. Never mind that New Zealand now is the envy of the world when it comes to both social and economic matters. Never mind that, according to Labour, it is of no account that Moody’s advice is that New Zealand will be one of the fastest-growing economies, with a triple A rating in the years ahead.

And then, of course, let us not pay any attention to the fact that we have a service sector responsible for two-thirds of the New Zealand economy that is growing and continuing to provide opportunities and jobs for New Zealanders. The average annual wage, apparently, is not a matter to the Labour Party. It is now around $60,000 and projected to be $65,000 in the next few years. But apparently it is just not true that jobs are growing at a remarkable rate. Apparently the 180,000 New Zealanders who are now in work, who would not have been in work had it not been for these policies, do not matter.

The economy in New Zealand is diversified. We now have tourism bigger than the dairy industry. We have a wine industry that is growing at a massive rate. We have high-tech manufacturing growing at a huge rate, and of course we have so many other areas of the economy that are beginning to emerge as strong performers for New Zealanders.

That is the stuff that is important to New Zealanders. That is what really matters. You can go around all you like, taking as many selfies as you like, as many smiley moments as you like, until it is made clear to New Zealanders that this stuff matters, then it is just “I like that position, but can’t vote for them.”

I do not think Labour can avoid talking about the economy for a lot longer.

Phil Twyford: Don’t they ask you for selfies?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Well, actually they do.

Phil Twyford: Do they?

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Yeah, and I always tell them to put on the wide angle lens and then we will both be in it. There is no doubt—[Interruption] I will tell you what. If I turned up to one of your meetings, everyone would think you had a crowd. It would be a novel experience. It would be quite a novel experience for Grant Robertson.

It is without doubt that it was “the rock”—the then finance Minister, and now Prime Minister Bill English—who steadied us through the financial crisis that this Government inherited from the previous Government. People have got short memories, but we will remind them. We were facing decades of deficits when Michael Cullen and his crew left.

We have done a lot, by requiring better value for Government services, by ensuring that we get the best value from the dollars that New Zealanders commit to education, to health, to policing, and to all the range of Government services. We would have done it a lot sooner had we not been having to provide for the catastrophic earthquakes in Christchurch that took some $15 billion out of our economy at that time.

The Labour Party will try to pretend that that sort of economic management is easy. It just happens. Do not worry about how it happens; it just happens. Well, that is not going to be an easy conversation. When Labour members have to explain that their $18.8 billion worth of promises, so far, will be paid for from higher taxes, from higher mortgage rates, and from higher costs on all New Zealand families, simply saying “We can do it better, so just do it with us.”, is not going to work.

The other point I would like to make is the pride with which all National candidates go into this election. They are proud to stand on a record that has very much delivered for New Zealanders. In the Budget earlier this year we were able to announce a $2 billion package for New Zealanders from April of next year—1.3 million New Zealand families will be able to keep more of the money that they earn, or through family support, or through the accommodation supplement. Labour members voted against it and the question is why.

Well, apparently it is because they are going to put together some handpicked bunch of cloth-capped economists who are going to give the Government advice on how to tax all New Zealanders more. What a tax—just one. And now you see them out there saying “Don’t worry about it. We’re going to put more costs on farmers, but it won’t have any effect on food whatsoever.” Well, that is the sort of economics that they are trying to sell to New Zealanders that just will not work.

Then there is the vexed issue of capital gains. I think—

Hon Members: Ha, ha!

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE: Oh, they laugh. They laugh—right? Hard-working New Zealanders who have made a few quid are going to have to pay more under them and they laugh. That is very, very, very sad. I would suggest to Jacinda Ardern that she should today tell the House the terms of reference that she will give to that bunch of left-wing economists to work out the tax system. [Interruption] I do not mind saying that. It is absolutely true.

There should be a great deal more clarity around water tax—a huge amount of more clarity around the water tax. To suddenly say “Oh, when we are in Government we’ll have better information so we’ll know how much we can charge them.” flies in the face of a party in Government who says it will not work. I think that as we go towards the election day, the great call that says “Just do it” will be beaten by a Government—a Government that is delivering and will deliver for New Zealanders.

Peters throws rotten eggs, counts chickens

Winston Peters looked and sounded more like rumpled rooster than an elder statesman in his last speech in the current term in Parliament.

He threw rotten eggs at some MPs.

I also want to say to a number of people—Brett Hudson, Matt Doocey, Barbara Kuriger, Melissa Lee, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Jian Yang, Parmjeet Parmar, Joanne Hayes, Chris Bishop, Nuk Korako, and Maureen Pugh—that I am going to move a motion that we extend the valedictory time for them to make their last speech.

He then counted his election chickens.

 I have seen the future in the polls, and we, over here, have not started yet. We know how illusory those polls are. We know that whatever they say about us, you can add on another 30 to 50 percent, and that is why the cohesive, stable organisation of New Zealand First is going to be so important over the next 5 weeks.

He frequently claims the polls are wrong.

And then ironically:

You know, the problem with education is that you have got to be able to count, and in this Parliament we have got a Government that simply cannot count.

He suggested that NZ First could emulate Donald Trump.

We are going to cut straight past the media, because the wonderful thing about the social media in this country right now and the utilities is that you can go on being a bombast like Gerry and just a noise rocket, or you can be a party of substance talking about great issues and principles and an ideology that this country was founded on, which is that we are as good as anybody in the world.

Can anyone remember hearing anything about a tweet from Peters?

He closed with some Trump-like self aggrandisation:

The last thing I want to say to you is that when this Parliament started I warned all you backbenchers about why you should pay attention, why you should not trust these people up front, why they are no good, why they have not got ability, and why they have not got capacity.

I remember the very speech that day—the first time Parliament opened. I told you to watch out for them because they would sink you. And, sadly, they have. They may not thank you, but I thank you for at least being here and being able to listen to a warning. And when you leave here, you will be a much wiser person.

In fact, before you even get home this weekend, I suggest you will be going around saying “I should’ve listened to New Zealand First. I should’ve paid attention. When he talked about the Reserve Bank Act and running the country for the hard-working people who create wealth rather than the ephemeral consumerists of Auckland, I should’ve paid attention.

And another rotten egg:

I should’ve ignored the guy down at Tauranga and Bay of Plenty—all Brylcreem and no suds, and his next door neighbour, ‘$10 Tauranga’.” Let me ask you tomorrow at Red Square in Tauranga, at midday—it will be wall to wall, and we will see how good you guys are then.

Unlike for Trump, the media seem to have ignored this bitter banter. Deservedly.

Greens down, but not out yet

It has been a disastrous month for the Green Party. Metiria Turei’s ‘mission’ against poverty got out of control. Two Green MPs withdrew from the party list, and Turei followed suit so is very likely to leave Parliament after the election, her slim chances relying onb the Te Tai Tonga electorate.

In the aftermath the polls tell a grim story. The Greens initially surged to a record 15% in both Colmar Brunton and Reid Research polls (conducted in July), but the latest polls have dived.

Last week it was reported that UMR had the Greens down to 8%, and the Reid Research poll conducted from 2-8 August (during the Green implosion) had them down to 8.3%.

Yesterday a Colmar Brunton poll (conducted 12-16 August) had the Greens below the threshold on 4.3% – this puts them at real risk of not getting back into Parliament.

1 News: Watch: James Shaw appeals to voters after Greens’ ‘momentary lapse of reason’

“Tonight’s TVNZ poll, which shows the Greens on a really low base, is clearly not great news,” Ms Shaw said, speaking directly to a camera from a seat in his office.

That’s a different base to the one he last week claimed they would bounce back to.

“And what it shows me is that we have a lot of work to do over the course of the next five weeks to rebuild the trust and credibility with all of those New Zealanders who have supported us in the past”.

“I know that the last couple of weeks have been messy. And if there’s one rule in politics it’s that New Zealand voters hate it when political parties engage in kind of messy activity and all of that kind of stuff.”

“So I know that and I’m hoping that our track record over the last 17 years in Parliament, and the years before we even got into Parliament, will show that what happened over the course of the last few weeks was, shall we say, a momentary lapse of reason.

“And actually we are still going strong, we are the same Green Party that we’ve always been, with the same vision the same values.”

Sadly that’s not true. Kennedy Graham and David Clendon quit because they couldn’t stand on the vision and values the party lurched to following Turei’s mission, and Turei, MP for fifteen years and co-leader for the last eight years.

The Greens now standing for this election are quite different.

Mr Shaw appealed to viewers to “help us out, talk to your friends and stand with us over the course of the next five weeks”.

He said “a strong Green heart at the next progressive government is absolutely vital”

Shaw gave his Adjournment Debate speech in Parliament yesterday, in front of very subdued looking Green MPs:


That’s Graham and Clendon sitting on their own separated from rest of the Green MPs, and Turei is absent. The Green heart looks like it is on life support.

Video of Shaw’s speech:

He referred to Graham and Clendon well into his speech:

And speaking of hard work and sacrifice, thank you so much to the Green Party caucus, who are leaving this year…

Shaw paused and turned towards Graham and Clendon in isolation up the back.

…and finally, and finally I want to acknowledge Metiria.

Child poverty was not an issue that most Parliamentarians in New Zealand wanted to talk about. You made it an issue that every politician has to talk about.

You stood in this chamber and you spoke up for those who could not speak for themselves.

A relatively brief mention.

And the next government of New Zealand will have an end to poverty, the restoration of our rivers,  and leadership on climate change, at the top of it’s order paper.

Thank you Mr Speaker. I’ll see you in six weeks.

The applause that followed was as if it followed a speech at a wake.

Greens have suffered serious and largely self inflicted wounds. The latest poll is either an ominous sign of a mortally wounded party, or it could prompt a slight revival if enough voters decide to rescue them this election.

It would be a real shame to see the Greens disappear from Parliament, but they took a major risk and fell flat on their faces. It will be difficult for them to look confident during the campaign.

Last night on Reddit: Ask Us Anything: Greens Co-leader James Shaw and MPs Mojo Mathers, Jan Logie, and Gareth Hughes

Trump’s feed on Twitter

If you want to see what Donald trump sees on his Twitter feed you can follow this Twitter account.

Trump doesn’t seem to just feed himself on Twitter, he gorges himself.

Trump's Feed

Trump’s Feed


A bot that retweets tweets from people the president follows on Twitter. A project of .