Bracken – from god-laden anthem to racist poem

Thomas Bracken wrote the words that have become the lyrics of New Zealand’s second national anthem, which is laden with references to God and Lord’.

“Our anthem is so focused on religion it’s not funny! Get away from all the god talk and start talking about something that actually means something to everyone in this country. Make it even easier, have it in our native tongue – Te Reo Māori!”

– Hemi Ruru, Papakura

Bracken also wrote a racist poem – it was about Chinese people. If he was found to have written something racist about Māori the maybe there would be an outcry and calls to condemn everything he wrote, like the religist anthem.

Michael Tull: Anthem writer Thomas Bracken’s anti-Chinese rhetoric ‘racist to modern eyes’.

There’s a danger in elevating historical figures to demigod status.

Last week’s editorial ‘Our anthem ‘God Defend New Zealand’ is a radically subversive challenge to tradition’ veered close to elevating New Zealand national anthem writer Thomas Bracken to a similar inviolate status.

Its staunch defence of his lyrics was, in part, a response to a discussion I started earlier this month on social media about whether it’s appropriate to have an undisguised Christian prayer as our anthem.

What I proposed was a revision of the lyrics, in order to address the religious elephant in the room.

Removing 13 direct references to ‘God’ and ‘Lord’, plus a further eight indirect references (such as ‘thee’ and ‘thy’) would underline the separation between church and state which is fundamental in a modern democracy.

While the anthem is often criticised there is no apparent drive to deem it as inappropriate and dump it.

Revising the lyrics might also make the anthem more relatable to, and reflective of, the increasingly multi-cultural and multi-faith mix of people who make up our country.

Bracken wrote at a very different time.

It would need more than ‘revising the lyrics’ – it would have to amount to a major re-write.

But Bracken, while a good man by most accounts, was no paragon of virtue, and his works are not time-proof.

Another of his published poems, Chinee Johnny, is so racist to modern eyes that strict limits were set on which bits can be quoted here.

Written in a mock Chinese accent, it includes lines like “cook him puppy in him pan”, “steal him fowley nighty come”, and “Chinaman no wifey bling/ No good women, all same ting/ Play on tom-tom, ching, ching, ching!”

Okay, let’s be kind and say perhaps this was “of its time”.  But even by the kindest interpretation, it still reads like the worst Benny Hill sketch ever.

More viscerally, Bracken’s poem sits mightily uneasy in the modern world.

Couldn’t the same thing be said about baking a prayer into the song through which we express our national pride?

If Bracken had written something that was as racist against Māori as is his his poem against Chinese then it would lead a modern movement to have a relevant anthem.

 

Foreign buyer rules relaxed

Prior to getting into Government Labour talked up the effect of foreign buyers on the New Zealand housing market, and copped a lot of criticism for their ‘Chinese sounding names’ claims. They were also accused of exaggerating the impact of foreign buyers – and this has turned out to be true with foreign buyers being just 3% in recent statistics.

Once in power Labour restricted foreign buyers despite warnings of what that would do to discourage new housing developments. They have now partly backtracked.

RNZ:  Government relaxes rules on foreign buyer ban

The government’s overseas buyers’ ban on New Zealand homes has been softened, with some multi-storey apartment buildings now being exempted.

New Zealand officials and minister have also been negotiating with Singapore as the ban contravenes agreements between the two countries – that has now been resolved with Singapore securing an exemption, along with Australia.

Since the legislation has gone through select committees the government has acknowledged some fish hooks, that may have actually put the brakes on housing supply in Auckland.

Broadly, they apply to developers concerned about not being able to complete big projects if they can’t sell individual apartments to foreign buyers.

Another issue was overseas corporates getting caught up in the ban when they wanted to buy residential land – for example to build cell phone towers.

They were valid concerns, Trade Minister David Parker said.

“The advice we had from officials was that if we didn’t allow investment in apartment buildings then the whole complex was more likely not to proceed so there would be fewer purchase choices for New Zealanders,” Mr Parker said.

Parker has admitted they rushed to implementation of the changes and have had to reconsider when it became apparent it was having an adverse effect on trying to get more houses and apartments built.

Under the new regime, overseas investors would be able to invest in new housing, particularly apartments, new rentals, and homes available to purchase under rent-to-own or shared-equity arrangements.

The new rules allowed foreign buyers to purchase apartments ‘off the plan’ but they had to sell them once built. They can now retain ownership, but can’t live in them themselves.

This seems weird, especially when the government says they want to get more Kiwis into home ownership.

And the changes announced yesterday are still being criticised.

Phil Twyford in Opposition in 2016: Foreign buyers’ data selective and ineffective

The Government’s newly released foreign buyer data doesn’t give an accurate picture because it was collected at a time when offshore speculators had temporarily deserted the market, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

“The Government is out of touch with the 70 per cent of New Zealanders that support Labour’s policy to ban offshore speculators from buying existing homes. National should back my Bill when it comes before Parliament next month, instead of supporting foreign speculators against the interests of Kiwi first homebuyers,” Phil Twyford says.

Twyford as Housing Minister in December 2017: Ban on overseas speculators a step closer

“This Government welcomes foreign investment in houses to add to our housing supply,” Phil Twyford says.

“However, purchases of homes by offshore speculators push first home-buyers and families out of the housing market.”

Phil Twyford says the legislative changes demonstrate the Government’s determination to make it easier for New Zealanders to buy their first home.

“We expect the law to be passed early next year fulfilling a key pledge in our 100 Day Plan. The previous National government said it couldn’t be done without breaching trade agreements. They just didn’t try and in doing so, they put foreign buyers ahead of New Zealanders.

“This Government prioritises home ownership and housing affordability for all New Zealanders. This Bill will ensure that house prices are set by New Zealand-based buyers, not international buyers,” Phil Twyford says.

The National opposition now say: Twyford’s numbers badly wrong on foreign buyers

“When challenged on the AM Show today and faced with official statistics, Phil Twyford failed to defend his previous stance that foreigners – particularly Chinese – dominated New Zealand’s property market,” Mrs Collins says.

“He originally claimed that 30 per cent of homes in New Zealand were being sold to foreigners. In the face of irrefutable evidence – he could not defend those numbers.

“Official statistics released yesterday show foreign house buyers make up just three per cent of New Zealand’s residential property market, exactly what the previous National Government maintained.

“In the lead up to the election Labour and Phil Twyford ran a scare campaign claiming buyers with ‘Chinese sounding names’ were not real New Zealanders deserving of a home and were responsible for ‘pricing first-home buyers out of the market’.

RNZ: Overseas house buyer problem ‘was never real’

Many developers are still opposed to a ban on the sale of existing homes to foreigners despite a slackening of the proposed new rules.

Only a fraction of New Zealand’s housing stock is foreign-owned and there are developers who think banning or restricting that investment discriminates.

In the first draft of the Overseas Investment Amendment bill, overseas buyers could buy apartments off the plans, but would have to sell them once the building was completed.

The new draft has softened that, now allowing developers to sell up to 60 percent of their apartments off-plan, without the requirement for buyers to sell within a year.

Official figures show nationally 3 percent of people who bought residential property in the last quarter didn’t hold New Zealand citizenship or resident visas.

Mr Church and other developers believe these figures prove the whole law should be scrapped.

“It indicates that the hyperbole around this issue being a much larger problem is just that, it was never real.”

Interestingly Twyford didn’t feature in yesterday’s announcement, it came from David Parker as Associate Finance Minister.

Foreign buyer screening law reported back

The Bill putting in place the Government’s policy of banning overseas buyers of existing houses has been reported back to Parliament by the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee.

Under the new regime, overseas investors will be able to invest in new housing, particularly apartments, new rentals, and homes available to purchase under rent-to-own or shared-equity arrangements.

“This will help first home buyers to get their foot on the property ladder,” David Parker said.

All permanent residents and resident visa holders who spend the majority of their time in New Zealand will be able to purchase homes under the regime without obtaining consent.

Australian and Singapore citizens and residents will be treated the same as New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.

Australia was always a special case. Singapore was not happy with the initial changes and also pushed for an exemption.

 

 

 

Greens struggling in Government

I suspected that Greens were naive about the responsibilities and requirements of being in government, and this is being proven by an outpouring of green angst over the granting of water bottling rights to a Chinese company.

Some Green supporters (presumably party members) and some Green MPs are showing that they still struggle with the reality of governing.

Government 101 – you can’t get into power, especially weak power overshadowed by one much larger party and another party whose leader holds most of the bargaining power and influence, and change the law every time one of your own party ministers is required to follow procedures and fulfil their responsibilities.

Stuff: Green Party members revolt over water bottling decision

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson is facing intense backlash from members threatening to quit over a decision made by one of her ministers to allow a Chinese water bottler to expand.

Davidson has said she “doesn’t like” the decision after the co-leader of the Young Greens Max Tweedie wrote on an internal Facebook page that that he was “extremely disappointed” in the decision.

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage, one of three Green ministers, announced the decision on Tuesday which allows in principle a Chinese water bottling giant to purchase land in order to expand their existing Otakiri Springs water bottling plant near Whakatane.

The decision was made with associate finance minister David Clark based on advice from the Overseas Investment Office.

In other words, doing what her job required. But Sage was obviously uneasy about some Greens would think so tried to explain to them.

Sage put out a blog post on the decision on the Green Party website.

She acknowledged it was surprising the call had been made by a member of the Green Party as it had an election policy to ban new water bottling consents, impose a levy on water exports, and more concretely respect Treaty of Waitangi rights around water.

“Some people might wonder why a Green MP who is a Minister has allowed such a land purchase involving a water bottling plant to go ahead,” Sage wrote.

“Basically the law is clear about what Ministers can and cannot take into account.”

The Overseas Investment Act only allows Ministers to take into account “substantial and identifiable” benefit to New Zealand and conservation values – but not Treaty of Waitangi rights.

That sounds fairly obvious.

Despite this post, prominent members of the party were fuming on an internal Facebook group on Tuesday night, and asking the Greens to publicly disown the decision.

“What the f… is the point of us being in government and having this portfolio if we throw our Te Tiriti [Treaty] obligations in the bin,” wrote Tweedie.

“This is an absolute joke, I’m extremely disappointed in Eugenie and so angry that this came from us … This is a test for us as to how we respond to this, I would like the non ministerial part of our caucus to oppose this publicly, I’m actually livid.”

Tweedie also seems ignorant of how a democratic government reliant on law works.

Davidson, who ran for co-leader on a platform of greater connection with members, acknowledged in a comment on that post “we don’t like this decision.”

“There were strong legal implications for us opposing this. We will have to seek changes in the legislation to avoid legal consequences. While there are definitely Tiriti implications in this issue, it’s not a core Treaty issue in this case,” Davidson wrote.

A prominent member of the party wrote he was “fuming”.

“I don’t know if I can stay in the party, on principle after this. Ngāti Awa people (who almost universally oppose this) are absolutely livid.”

Davidson responded that this position was “valid and shows how much we need to be accountable on this.”

Speaking on her way into the House Davidson repeated that the decision was not consistent with Green Party values or policy.

“This decision does not sit with Green Party kaupapa and long-time policy.”

Simple fact – Greens have 8 seats in a 63 seat MMP government, so proportionally they have about 1/8 of the power. They don’t have a mandate to change every law they don’t like.

Sage told Stuff she understood why Green Party members would be upset.

“I absolutely understand members’ concerns about the decision. The Green Party leadership and MPs understand our members’ concerns,” Sage said.

“There are opportunities to improve the law and I hope people will get involved in that. Green MPs will push hard for changes to the law and for a charge on bottled water exports.”

“I made a decision under the current law.”

That’s pretty basic stuff. What did Green members think they would be able to do in Government with 8 MPs?

Sage was put on the spot on this in Parliament yesterday, which resulted in Davidson asking patsy questions to try to address party concerns:

From Question No. 11—Land Information:

Hon David Bennett: Has the Minister discussed with the Minister of Trade and Export Growth how the overseas investment criteria could be changed to implement core Green Party policy to impose an immediate moratorium on new bottling?

Hon EUGENIE SAGE: I am confident that the Minister who has responsibility for that issue of water bottling is looking at all the issues, and we will have discussions.

Marama Davidson: Was the Minister able to consider the environmental impacts of taking the water when she made this decision?

Hon EUGENIE SAGE: That is not a matter that the Minister for Land Information can take into account under the Overseas Investment Act; it is a matter that is considered under the Resource Management Act. The Bay of Plenty Regional Council notified its application.

Marama Davidson: Was she able to take into account Te Tiriti concerns and the opposition of mana whenua when making this decision?

Hon EUGENIE SAGE: The application concerned the purchase of sensitive land under the Overseas Investment Act. That Act limits the issues that can be considered. I considered those issues, and I wasn’t able to take those concerns into account.

A Minister has responsibilities beyond their party ideals. No Minister can quickly change laws to appease their party members, especially small relatively weak third parties in Government.

It could be a difficult term for the Greens, and a challenging campaign in 2020 – if they haven’t self destructed before then.

Diversity and Chinese Language Week

This week is ‘New Zealand Chinese Language Week’:

New Zealand Chinese Language Week  (16-22 October) is a Kiwi-led initiative aimed at encouraging New Zealanders to discover Chinese language and culture. 

Be inspired by our supporters and meet our  “Mandarin Superstars” as they share their exciting experiences.

Check out what events are taking place in your region 16-22 October.

Find out how you can get “Asia ready” in 2017 by checking out our language learning resources.

But ‘Chinese language’ is not one thing, it is a diverse range of languages and dialects.

We don’t often refer to Romance languages, but instead to Italian, Spanish, French, plus the language that’s a derivative of these and has become widespread, English.

And some dialects of English can be nearly or wholly unintelligible to other English speaking people.

Bevan Chuang points out Chinese Language is more diverse than Mandarin

Chinese Language Week is the one week that I get very patriotic about how unilineal and narrow focus this week is.

Chuang details a number of reasons why she is frustrated that people ask her to write something in Mandarin – she is a native Cantonese speaker.


1. Mandarin is only one of many Chinese languages

The Chinese language we know are associated with ethnic Han Chinese. Within the Chinese community there are more than one ethnic group though Han Chinese make up 92% of Chinese in China and 97% in Taiwan.

Linguists note that the Chinese language is as diverse as a language family, like those of Romance languages.

There are between 7 and 13 main regional groups of Chinese, with majority speaking Mandarin (including Standard Chinese, Pekinese, Suchuanese, Dungan) but followed by Wu (including Shanghainese, Suzhounese, Wenzhounese), Min (inlcuding Fuzhounese, Hainese, Hokkien, Taiwanese, Teochew), Yue (including Cantonese and Taishanese), Gan, Xiang and Hakka.

Most of these groups are mutually unintelligible though they may share common terms. They also varies in tone and anaytic.

The Mandarin that we now know in the Western society is the Standard Chinese, which is derived from the term guānhuà (官话/官話), or “official speech”, to refer to the speech used at the Court. The term “Mandarin” is borrowed directy from Portuguese, mandarim, which is derived from the Sanskrit word mantrin, Conselor or Minister.

Before the 19th century, the standard was based on the Nanjing dialects, but later the Beijing dialect became increasingly influential, and with the dying of Qing dynasty, Beijing dialect was established as guóyǔ (国语/國語), or the “national language”.

With the Communist-ruled country, Mandarin became increasingly influential because it is seen as the standardised language, and people seems to only identify Mandarin as the only Chinese language.

2. Disrespectful to the Chinese forbearers to New Zealand

Early Chinese immigrants to New Zealand are Cantonese speakers from South China. They came from the Pearl River delta area in Guangdong province. Most (67%) were from Panyu county; the rest were from Siyi, Zengcheng, Dongguan and Zhongshan. These counties are located around the city of Canton (Guangzhou).

New Zealand was one of the three countries that place a poll tax on the Chinese immigrants. In 2002, former Prime Minister Helen Clark formally apologised to the Chinese Poll Tax descendents and subsequently the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust was formed.

One of the key focus of the Trust is to promote learning and the use of the Cantonese language, the language of the forbearers. Supporting the descendents to hold on to their language and culture of their ancestors.

Very different to the many Language Weeks we have in New Zealand, the Chinese Language Week is not about ensuring the language of our ancestors will live on, but this is purely about increasing trade.

3. Not celebrating diversity

Chinese, both the language and the people, are very diverse. We are not able to address and celebrate the diversity and yet lumped together as one. This also helps support the Chinese government’s plan to diminish dialects by only promoting Mandarin as the only Chinese language.

The United Nations have acknowledged that the Chinese language is becoming less diverse, and over 100 languages are in danger of dying out. Even Shanghainese, one of the many “Mandarin” dialects, is in fear of dying out. Just Google “Dying Chinese Language” and you will find pages of search results related to the concern that the Mandarin policy is killing the other languages. The killing of these languages are more than just a language, but the culture and history.

What can we do

One day, I hope, that the Chinese Language Week actually celebrates the history and diversity of all Chinese language and promote the use of Chinese as a whole, not focusing only in Mandarin. Even here in New Zealand, there are two main dialects.

According to the last Census, 52,263 people spoke Northern Chinese which includes Mandarin, 44,625 spoke Yue that includes Cantonese and 42,750 spoke a “Sinitic” language.


New Zealand is becoming increasingly diverse, and ethnic Chinese are becoming a larger part of our mix.

And within the ethnic Chinese population there is also diversity beyond simply immigrants and those born here and with as long a connection to New Zealand as many of us.

We are familiar with recognising distinct differences between English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish even though they share a common language.

In New Zealand they share many things in common, while some retain some cultural practices as well. That is usually celebrated.

Ethnicity, culture and language have never been simple and separable.

The same should apply to the diversity of ethnic Chinese now living here. They accept aspects of our culture (actually cultures) while retaining some of there own if they wish. Language is one part of that.

Food is another – Chinese options have become much more diverse here in my lifetime. I don’t know where I could still find chicken, rice and mixed vegetables – with buttered bread soaked in Worcester Sauce for an entree.

We may have no interest in learning one of the Chinese languages, that’s a lot more challenging than scoffing sweet and sour wantons or egg foo young, but we can at least recognise the diversity of Chinese language as well as cuisine.

 

Choosing a pig-like mayor?

Chinese born former Labour MP Raymond Huo (2008-2014) tweeted:

@RaymondHuo

Is this real? “Not afraid of divine opponents but a mayor like a pig. Choose wisely…” (Not a verbatim translation)

PalinoChineseHoarding.jpg

Keith Ng picked up on this and did some further translating.

Keith Ng Retweeted Raymond Huo

More verbatim translation: “Not afraid of a god-like opponent, most afraid of choosing a pig-like mayor make a smart choice; vote mayor, vote John Palino”

There’s not really any room for misinterpretation on the “god-like opponent” or “pig-like mayor”.

I don’t see how you can accidentally mistranslate something into god-like or pig-like.

I suspect he has a Chinese copywriter with very weird ideas, or a fairly weird sense of humour.

Weird for sure.

Little on immigration – transcript

There’s been a lot of discussion on whether Andrew Little was led by journalists on immigration questions and whether he was unfairly quoted.

Here’s a transcript of the stand-up that was reported on.

Journalist: What impact do you think immigration has on those lower skilled and service industry waiters?

Little: I think it’s fair to say it’s having some impact, we know that we’ve got a reasonably high level of inward migration, and it’s not all at a skilled level, we know that some of those coming in are a kind of semi-skilled sort of level. It wasn’t the intention of the original concept to do that. So I think we are justified in having a look at that to make sure we’re getting the right mix and balance, and we’re not compromising the interests of those who are already living here and trying to get decent paying conditions.

Journalist: I saw a graph today and it was showing the most common skilled immigrants by category, and it was just the letter C and the most common was chef.

Little: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I know that, we know that that is happening particularly  you know in a lot of um you might say ethnic cuisines, so your Chinese, your Indian…you’re getting a lot folks coming here from overseas to…the hospitality industry with those particular ah cooking skills.

I think the question is you know yeah can we actually source those labour needs internally, and that’s why I think we would have a look at immigration just to check  we’ve got the balance right.

We are always going to be dependant on a level of migration to meet the shortfall of skills and needs that we have. We’ve typically relied on migration, immigration to supply senior highly skilled kind of levels. Let’s say that there seems to be a…so we need to have a close look to check to see that we’re getting it right.

That doesn’t seem to be controversial at all, except that Little specifically mentioned Chinese and Indian ethnicities which could suggest he sees those nationalities as particular problems.

Source: Andrew Little on ‘semi-skilled’ migration and ‘ethnic cuisine’

Little buckles under pressure as he and Twyford keep digging

Andrew Little threw a bit of a hissy fit when Patrick Gower questioned him on “cooked up data”.

Video and a short report from 3 News: Video: Andrew Little snaps over Chinese buyer data questions

The Labour leader took exception to a question that included the phrase “cooked-up data”, telling Mr Gower: “I’m not going to stand here and have a desperate TV3 reporter use inflammatory language on this. Cooked-up, what was cooked-up?!”

Mr Little added: “You don’t understand. You’re making stuff up.”

That’s also very ironic considering the way Phil Twyford followed by Little have made stuff up.

Ad it wasn’t just when the story broke last week. They are both still digging a hole, repeating made up claims that are not supported at all by the data they analysed.

Stuff report: Chinese officials concerned about Labour’s foreign buyer data

Chinese officials have raised concerns with Deputy Prime Minister Bill English about the “tone” of Labour Party data based on foreigners buying property in the overheated Auckland housing market.

There’s a number of reports of concern from Chinese ethnic groups and individials in New Zealand. Damage is still being done, but Labour keeps digging.

Labour’s housing spokesman Phil Twyford said the analysis the party did of the Barfoot and Thompson data predicted the probability of the surnames predicting ethnic origin, and he stood by that.

“And that is it has a high level of accuracy, and the result that we came up with that 39.5 per cent of houses sold during that three month period went to people of Chinese descent.

Rob Salmond claims the surname analysis was about 95% accurate and that’s not being disputed.

“We never ever made the claim, and we made it clear that we did not go and knock on the doors of those individual people and ask them if they were foreign speculators,” Twyford said.

But Labour failed completely to quantify how many buyers might be foreign Chinese, or total foreign buyers. Littl;e said “You’re making stuff up” – that’s what he and Twyford have done.

Twyford also expressed regret that some people in the Chinese community were upset by the debate, but said it was not racist.

“A fact cannot be racist – a fact is a fact. It might make you feel uncomfortable, but we need as a country to be able to have debates about these kinds of things without allegations of racism.”

It’s not the facts that have made people uncomfortable – and angry. It’s the making stuff up on the proportion of overseas Chines buyers that has been a disaster for Labour, as they have been told over and over – but they don’t seem to want to listen.

And it’s the targeting of Chinese and ignoring everyone else, and making excuses for a bit of racial/ethnic damage.

“Yes, I do care, very much,” Little said, when asked if he cared what the Chinese government thought.

But he said the Labour Party could not be constrained about putting information into the public arena because people did not want to upset the Chinese government.

“That’s not the basis on which we conduct debates in New Zealand.”

Labour shouldn’t be trying to conduct debates by making unsubstantiated guesses (if they were even guesses, they way they continue to act on this could be an attempt to divert from deliberately misleading.

Ethnic constituents had also expressed concern to Little about the way the debate had unfolded in some areas.

“We always knew, given the nature of the information, if we released it, that was one not just possible response, but a likely response.”

So Little admits knowing that offending people would be a likely reaction.

He denied that was concern at the Labour Party’s characterisation of the data, or the way the party had conducted the debate.

Asked if he felt bad about people feeling the data was racist, Little said he was “concerned that some people have felt that because of their ethnicity they have somehow been singled out – that does concern me”.

Failing to accept any responsibility, this is worse than the ;sorry if anyone was offended’ apology, because there is no sign of any apologies.

“But then we looked at the information and what it was telling us – the gap between a 9 per cent Chinese ethnic population in Auckland and 40 per cent of the purchasers of Auckland properties over a three month period being of Chinese ethnic descent.

“That was too big of a gap to say ‘we’re too afraid to release this information’.”

It’s a pity they weren’t afraid to make stuff up about the information – they piled unsubstantiated ‘guesses’ in  a classic example of cynical wedge politics, using the New Zealand Chinese community as a scapegoat.

The Auckland market has a major problem  with the impact of non-resident foreign buyers, which the Government was ignoring, Little said.

“We’re not going to [ignore it] – as uncomfortable as it is, and as crude as our information might have been, the conclusion that the non-resident foreign buyer is having a huge impact on the Auckland housing market is real, and people are concerned about it.”

He admits the information was ‘crude’ – it wasn’t the very limited information that was crude, it was the way Labour embellished it substantially, knowing it would be a Chinese bashing that was crude.

All this has been pointed out over and over again to Labour over they last ten days. Often very  explicitly.

So I find it incredible that Twyford and Little are still pushing their divisive drivel.

And now Little has shown sign he is buckling under the pressure he has brought upon himself.  Lashing out at a journalist is just going to make things worse.

Labour have dug themselves deep on this, and now the sides of the hole are caving in on them.

I have no data to base this claim on, but I think that for every day Little and Labour continue to keep digging there will be another year before this is forgotten. If the Labour Party lasts that long.

And it’s hard to see Little becoming Prime Minister on this performance.

Ng’s response to Salmond

In response Rob Salmond’s  A week on from the housing controversy where he tries to defend his and Phil Twyford’s use of property sales data and also refers to people who have bee very critical.

After I published Labour’s method online, Keith Ng, Tze Ming Mok, and Chuan-Zheng Lee – all skilled analysts, all otherwise critical on this topic – all agreed the name-based ethnicity analysis was statistically sound, robust, and accurate.

And:

Having said that, one group I think did not overreact – despite their strongly critical stance – was the New Zealand Chinese community, including Keith, Tze Ming, and Chuan-Zheng. Their criticism was less about Labour’s intentions, and more about the impact of these revelations on ethnically Chinese New Zealanders.

Ng reacted angrily on Twitter:

New post: has been making shit up about what we’ve been saying about and his analysis.

Hey , which part of “cynical, reckless dogwhistling” made you think I was okay with ‘s intentions?

Hey , who should I talk to about getting a correction in the next issue? ‘s column grossly misrepresented what..

Salmond responded:

I will happily defend my column in the event of said formal complaints.

 Ng retorted:

Really? You think you can justify claiming that me, and “all agreed the name-based ethnicity analysis was statistically sound, robust, and accurate”?

Name-based ethnicity analysis was statistically sound, robust, and accurate”? Cos I’m bloody sure I didn’t, and that you can’t “honest opinion” that shit.

And he re-pointed to his Public address column in response – Don’t put words in our mouths, Rob where he details his disagreement, including:

Hey Rob, don’t put the words “statistically sound, robust, and accurate” into our mouths to describe your work.

If you need clarification, let me restate it: The method is fine, the data is broken, and those problems render it unscientific and utterly useless. Not sound. Not robust. Not accurate.

I was very critical of Labour intentions and I thought I was bloody clear about it.

I said that Phil Twyford was knowingly “straight-up scapegoating” Chinese New Zealanders and offshore Chinese alike and “fueling racial division in this country”. I said it was “cynical, reckless dogwhistling”.

What part of this was ambiguous for you??? Did you think I meant “cynical, reckless, but ultimately well-intentioned dogwhistling”?

Even after a week where Labour has been trying to take the “reverse racism” highground, trying to pretend that we didn’t blame Labour is a new delusional high, Rob.

That’s fairly clear.  Even Rob should get the hint from that.

Ng went on the re-explain his thoughts on Labour’s use of the data.

 they claim their intention was to talk about offshoreness, but what they knew about offshoreness only came from “informed speculation” secondary to the main analysis about ethnicity.

And what did Rob concluded from this “informed speculation”?

My conclusion: if my prior for “is there large-scale offshore $?” were X, my posterior post these data is >X

It’s a wanky way of saying: After seeing the Chinese-sounding names evidence, he is more confident that “there is large-scale offshore Chinese buying in Auckland” than he was before. How confident was he before? And how much more confident has he become?

No, I won’t quantify it, because that would be introducing false precision to qualitative reasoning.

But here’s the problem. He is literally saying his level of certainty isunknown + unknown. Which equals, of course: unknown.

This is the statistical basis on which Twyford is out there using words like “implausible” and “very unlikely”.

Ng concludes:

That is to say, Rob believe it’s okay to use evidence which supports a claim in political debate, explicitly regardless of how weak it is. According to Rob, any shred of evidence is okay in a political debate, because that’s how political debates work.

Please do not mistake me for thinking that this is well-intentioned. This is a cynical attempt to bamboozle the media and the public by hiding your utter lack of evidence behind fancy jargon. It’s a travesty and a sad excuse for analysis. You ought to be ashamed, Rob.

Also, Sunday-Star Times: These claims Rob made about me are incorrect and defamatory. Please issue an correction in your next issue.

The comments continue to be scathing. Another of those mentioned in Salmond’s column and post, Tze Mink Mok, joined in.

I am so fucking pissed off. Rob says of me, Keith and CZ, “Their criticism was less about Labour’s intentions”?? Either Rob was lying or he didn’t bother reading my column (possible): because THAT WAS MY MAIN CRITICISM. Jesus, my blog didn’t even MENTION the effects of any racist backlash on the Chinese community.

Rob’s latest column is just barefaced partisan hackery. I know Russell reposted it to encourage generate debate, but I’m embarrassed that it might be seen as an endorsement of Rob’s independence. Russell, I think that perhaps for Speaker posts it’s a good idea to include a line about the author’s political party affiliations and employment.

Seriously, this is just blatant damage control for the Labour party. Rob*lies* about the debate, and is entirely focused on framing critics of the Labour party as CRAZY and IRRATIONAL while carefully singling out three Chinese critics for praise in order to avoid accusations of racism. He’s shitting on any non-Chinese person who supported us. Because obviously, if you’re not Chinese and say exactly the same things that me and Keith said, and openly supported our positions, you must be completely irrational.

Keith, this is what happens when we fight them on the stats instead of on the solidarity. It goes “Ah yes, much respect to the Chinese who are good at stats [ignores substance of everything the Chinese people were saying because they know nobody understands stats so you can say whatever you want about what the Chinese people were saying about the stats] everybody else is CRAZY.”

And ‘Sue’ has a less emotional but no less pertinent point:

I’m so glad i don’t read sunday papers, but i’m so sad to see words twisted like that. I think what Rob Salmond and the labour party have failed to do is listen.

Listen to people who are hurt & ashamed by a party that at it’s roots is about people. They are so busy fighting to assert the rightness of what they are saying they didn’t notice they’ve exposed some seriously ingrained racism in this country. Why are they not sad & embarrassed and apologetic about the hurt and pain they are causing all the many different asian communities in NZ.

Why is that not the lead on Rob’s article, inside of an afterthought.

There’s no sign of Labour listening or learning from this yet. They keep digging the hole they have jumped into deeper. Salmond is shovelling shit.

Key on Labour’s Chinese attack and property buying

John Key is back from holiday and one of the first things media asked him about was Labour’s attack on Chinese property speculators. Key suggested Labour was “desperate”, “knew it was misleading” and “it’s very different from the Labour Party I always knew”. That sounds like a well researched response, they are common views.

Stuff reported: Auckland housing data using surnames a ‘desperate’ measure – John Key

Auckland housing data using Chinese-sounding surnames released by the Labour Party was “desperate” and out of character for the Opposition, says the Prime Minister.

“It’s desperate in my view, they know the information is wrong and they know the information is misleading and they can claim whatever they want…it’s very different from the Labour Party I always knew,” John Key said

On Radio NZ: PM dismisses Labour’s housing claims

Prime Minister John Key says most of those with Chinese-sounding names investing in the Auckland housing market will be people with a genuine connection to New Zealand.

He doubted the figures were an accurate reflection of the level of Chinese interest in New Zealand housing.

“Not that many people get up in the morning who live in Guangzhou, and say randomly ‘I’m going to buy a house in Auckland’, with no connection to the country at all.

“There’ll be some, some people on that list will definitely be, in my view, as mere speculation, will have no connection to New Zealand but not very many.”

On Labour’s use of data to blame Chinese:

“They will know that people on that list, the vast bulk of them, who have Chinese surnames will be the residents or citizens, many of whom Labour will have welcomed to this country.”

See Who’s buying Auckland property?

And Key on what may help and what isn’t helping elsewhere:

The Government was compiling information on non-resident investment in the housing market, he said.

“I have always said, if the data shows that there’s a real problem and we need to consider further steps then the Government will consider those further steps.”

He said Australia’s move to stop foreigners buying anything other than new properties had not been effective in curbing rapid house price rises.

Audio: Listen to John Key on Morning Report ( 5 min 43 sec )

And then from later in the day Stuff reported in John Key tells Kiwis to look on the bright side for dairy exports and economy:

Meanwhile, Key indicated he was not concerned about the potential flood of cash from mainland China – despite Labour highlighting the level of Chinese buying in the Auckland property market.

He said capital investment from China was much lower than from Australia, the United States or the United Kingdom.

“China hasn’t been a massive investor here, so rather than be worried in some instances we’d welcome that.”

Poll “not quite the bounce Labour hoped for”

At the end of Q & A this morning Michael Parkin revealed a little about a One News/Colmar Brunton due out tonight.

He said there’s a few surprising numbers but significantly it was “maybe not quite the bounce that Labour hoped for”.

The polling period would have presumably been this week so will partially reflect the evolving story about foreign property ownership and profiling based on Chinese sounding names.

A Roy Morgan poll published on Friday barely covered this issue as polling concluded last Sunday but showed a significant swing from National to Labour – see National down 6.5%, Labour up 6% (pre Chinese surname saga)

UPDATE: apparently The poll period was 11-15 July which starts last Saturday and runs through to Wednesday so will only partially reflect response to the foreign purchasing/Chinese surname issue.

In any case single polls are only snapshot indicators, we’ll have to wait and see if any trends are affected.

UPDATE2: Prepared excuses?

It’ll be interesting, but Colmar Brunton’s built in 5% lean to the right should make it look OK for the Nats. Expect the lead story to be a beat up about how the housing crisis exposure hasn’t helped Labour. As if that was why it was done.

As if.