China puts Ardern visit on hold, postpones tourism launch

China appears to be putting a squeeze on Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand, with a visit to China by Ardern being postponed, and a joint ‘Year of Tourism’ launch being scuppered.

In part this appears to be in response to block Huawei from supplying equipment for a major 5G broadband installation.

Barry Soper (NZ Herald):  China, New Zealand links sink to new low: PM Jacinda Ardern’s visit on hold, tourism project postponed

Diplomatic links with China appear to have plummeted to a new low as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is given the cold shoulder by Beijing and a major tourism promotion is postponed by the superpower.

Ardern was scheduled to visit China early this year but the invitation has been put on hold.

The 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism was meant to be launched with great fanfare at Wellington’s Te Papa museum next week, but that has been postponed by China.

The initiative was announced by the Key Government almost two years ago when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was in Wellington.

Richard Davies, manager of tourism policy at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, said: “China has advised that this event has had to be postponed due to changes of schedule on the Chinese side.”

It looks like a deliberate distancing and point making by China. This has significant implications for trade and tourism.

Ardern said after the Cabinet meeting yesterday that the official visit to Beijing is being worked on. Late last year she was on standby to visit but said they could not co-ordinate their diaries. New Zealand sources in Beijing say her first visit to China is not expected any time soon.

The decision by the Government’s chief spy agency, the GCSB, to axe Chinese telco giant Huawei from the Spark 5G broadband rollout is seen by China as New Zealand taking sides with the United States. The Trump Administration publicly asked its Five Eyes partners not to do business with Huawei.

The GCSB’s version that Huawei posed a risk to national security isn’t enough for Beijing. It wants a better explanation before opening the door to Ardern.

This could take a lot more than a bit of PR poncing to resolve. The real world of international trade and diplomacy involves more than photo ops and friendly articles.

Asset management and corporate adviser David Mahon, based in Beijing, said governments needed to get over thwarting Chinese economic aims in a way reminiscent of the Cold War struggle between capitalism and communism.

“It’s unhelpful for politicians and a few anti-Chinese professors to feed uncorroborated McCarthyite conspiracies about Chinese spy networks in their countries and targeting anyone who doesn’t share their view”.

Philip Burdon, a former National Government Trade Minister and recently chairman of the Asia New Zealand Foundation, said New Zealand couldn’t afford to take sides.

“We clearly need to commit ourselves to the cause of trade liberalisation and the integration of the global economy while respectfully and realistically acknowledging China’s entitlement to a comprehensive and responsible strategic and economic engagement in the region,” he said.

Sources in Beijing say China plans trade retaliation and the turning back of an Air New Zealand plane at the weekend may not have been a coincidence. Sources say the airline has been trying to secure extra landing slots in Shanghai without success.

NZ Herald: Air New Zealand takes blame for administrative blunder that meant Shanghai flight turned around

Air New Zealand has taken responsibility for a costly blunder that resulted in a flight from Auckland to Shanghai being turned around.

A spokeswoman said the aircraft at the centre of yesterday’s problem was new to the route and hadn’t gained the necessary approval.

Asked whether the Chinese stance had changed, she said: ”No, this was the result of an administrative issue on our end.”

An odd sort of ‘administrative issue’. getting approval for a route and landing is a fairly basic part of flight planning.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the mistake was Air New Zealand’s and was separate to China-New Zealand relations.

“It is important to be really clear and not confuse administrative and regulatory issues as issues to do with the relationship.”

Asked how she could be sure that this had nothing to do with any political reasons, she said: “Aircraft travelling into China are required to be registered. This one was not. That is the issue that has occurred here.”

Sounds like a sensitive issue.

Ardern can’t even get a plane off the ground for a visit to China. This isn’t a good sign in New Zealand-Chinese relations, and the late postponement of the launch of the 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism should also raise some alarm bells. When is it going to be launched ? Later in the year?

This may not just be a problem for Ardern. Pror to getting into Government with coalition partner NZ First:

China may not be able to tell New Zealand what to do, but they seem quite capable of telling us what they won’t do with us.

This may not help either:

And from RNZ: Government has its ‘eyes wide open’ on China: Winston Peters

Mr Peters comments follow a report by Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Chinese Influence and American Interests: Promoting Constructive Vigilance, which criticises New Zealand for not doing enough to counter Chinese influence.

“New Zealand’s government, unlike that of Australia, has taken few steps to counter foreign interference in its internal affairs,” the report said.

“Charity fund-raising, which has been used by Chinese United Front organisations to mask contributions, remains excluded from disclosure requirements.

Mr Peters said that he accepts the comments made in the report.

“When we came into government in 2017, on these issues we came in with our eyes wide open.”

He said that the government has already taken action by implementing its Pacific Reset policy.

“That’s why we’ve got the Pacific Reset, which is a huge turnaround in our approach to our neighbourhood and our engagement with it.”

“We all need to understand the changed environment and the Pacific Reset had a proper, serious evaluation of that and that’s why it’s a very, very critical part of our present foreign policy.”

However, he said the policy wasn’t designed to counter the influence of China specifically.

“No, it’s to ensure that the shape and character of our neighbourhood maintains the level of influence of countries who believe in democracy … who believe in sovereignty and countries who have got the best interest of the neighbourhood in mind, not some wider and larger purpose.”

Mr Peters wouldn’t say whether he thought China was becoming increasingly authoritarian.

“When the leader becomes what effectively looks to be the president for life, then that is a changed circumstance that would be naive not to understand.”

“China’s a one-party state – it’s not a democracy”.

These comments are likely to have been noticed in China.

Mr Peters said that he doesn’t believe there will be any reaction from China on the Huawei ban.

Maybe he will need to revise that belief.

Ardern may be caught between China versus US trade battles.

And also between Peters and China.

Political compass – policies versus practice

Here is a Political Compass done for parties competing in the 2017 New Zealand election.

New Zealand Political Parties 2017 including ACT, National, United Future, Labour, Māori, Mana, New Zealand First, The Opoortunities Party and GreenThere is some political commentary plus this explainer:

If significant policy shifts occur during the campaign, some chart positions, based on speeches, parliamentary voting records and manifestos, may alter accordingly.

So it is based on pre-election policies. This doesn’t not necessarily match with what parties do after the election, especially once they are in power. All three parties in Government, Labour, NZ First and Greens, have had to compromise on their policies.

Note that Political Compass is an international test of political positions, so doesn’t fit entirely with New Zealand politics.

This compass has been posted at Reddit: Political compass of NZ parties according to politicalcompass.org

sliightly_right:

Lol if this is correct then the American political parties must be piled on top of each other in the top right corner.

fernta:

I honestly hate these graphs. PoliticalCompass is definitely the most overrated and overused. Questions that can be interpretted in different ways, or questions that you agree with but the “HOWEVER” is left out of the question. Creates a really 1D portrait of political ideologies and the landscape, however.

SmallRoundAndHairy:

Lol at ACT being New Zealands most authoritarian party, when they are the closest we have to loopy libertarians.

Whoever dreamed this up is an idiot with no understanding of New Zealand politics.

newkiwiguy:

This is really inaccurate. ACT supported same-sex marriage, a referendum to legalise marijuana and voluntary euthanasia. They’re clearly a socially libertarian party. TOP called for a universal income for young people. They took most of their votes off the Greens. That isn’t economically right wing at all. And they were the only party campaigning to raise the drinking age. Hardly libertarian leaning.

This may in part be a problem with party policies versus how David Seymour promotes himself and ACT.

PosedByModels:

Half of those parties have gone.

Act are more libertarian than National on drugs, euthanasia, and most social issues.

Poorly calibrated axis too, when our two main centrist parties aren’t centred on the graph.

jayz0ned:

The point of the political compass is to compare between countries. Centering them all on each countries middle would make that impossible.

But compared to other countries, positioning New Zealand’s two major parties well to the right seems odd. They are widely considered here to be largely fighting over the centre here, and that would be considered a fairly moderate and left leaning centre by international standards.

I think Greens would be much further left in their social policies, and much less libertarian given how much they seem to want to impose controls on things.

The Political Compass raises more questions than providing answers.

I did the test in 2014 and this is my result:

That puts me close to the Maori, Mana and Green parties and a long way left of Labour and especially National. Thay’s very funny – and flawed.

How do the parties measure up now, nearly half way through the term?

More on Aotearoa New Zealand name recognition petition

Yesterdays post on the petition calling for renaming the country Aotearoa New Zealand – Should New Zealand also be called Aotearoa? – was done in a hurry and put up as something I though worth discussing. here is more information about it.

It was published on 23 May 2018 so has been going for some time. It has just received publicity via Facebook and NZ Herald. It is an official petition on the Parliamentary website:


Petition of Danny Tahau Jobe – Referendum to include Aotearoa in the official name of New Zealand

Published date: 23 May 2018

Petition request

That the House of Representatives pass legislation requiring a referendum, to be held during the term of the current Government, on whether the official name of New Zealand should change to include the name Aotearoa.

Petition reason

Official documents of national identity, birth & citizenship certificates, passports and money-notes have Aotearoa and New Zealand together as the names of the country. Only ‘New Zealand’ has official status. Both names together will officially confirm/enhance nationhood and uniqueness in the world.

Closing date: 28 Feb 2019 NZ Time

Number of signatures: 2345


As far as petitions go that’s not a lot of signatures.

A Facebook page Petition for Aotearoa New Zealand was started last June. It has been liked by 520 people and has 529 followers.

It includes this information showing how widely Aotearoaa is already shown alongside New Zealand.

Image may contain: bird and text

 

No photo description available.

No photo description available.

On country names and renaming:

Aotearoa New Zealand isn’t a long name!
Check these Country short and official names out, some will suprise you,
but first, heres three;

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The Unitied States of America
The Federative Republic of Brazil
The Democratic Republic of Congo

Aotearoa New Zealand – not long at all.

http://www.fao.org/countryprofiles/iso3list/en/

Also, Country name changes, they happen more than you might think:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographical_renaming

A petition run on Facebook. As of 29 January:

  • 52.4% want some form of change, Aotearoa to used in one form or another as a name of our Country
  • 47.4% want no change
    – 2,792 respondents.

Some  thoughts on the petition from Scott Hamilton:


I support the spirit of this petition, but I wonder its creators have thought through what they’re advocating. They want the name change to be a decolonising gesture, but it could lead to some strange & uncomfortable formulations & titles. Let me give two examples.

In addition to her various other titles, QE2 is officially known as the Queen of New Zealand. That sounds bad enough to my republican ears, but under the proposed name change, she’d ipso facto become Queen of Aotearoa New Zealand. Given the use of Aotearoa by anti-imperialists like Tawhiao, ruler of the Waikato Kingdom, in the 19th century (Tawhiao named his bank, for example, Te Peeke o Aotearoa, & used the name on his currency), allowing QE2 the title Queen of Aotearoa seems like a rather unfortunate move.

There’s also the fact that New Zealand is not just the name of a nation state, but of a rump Pacific empire. The Realm of New Zealand is defined as the entire area where the Queen of NZ is head of state – that includes Tokelau, Niue, the Cooks, & NZ-administered Antarctica.

Would it be any better, from the perspective of decolonisation, if the Realm of New Zealand, with its parcel of old colonies, became the Realm of Aotearoa New Zealand? The name wouldn’t seem any more representative, for Tokelauans, Cook Islanders, Niueans.

It’d be good to amend or abolish the name New Zealand, with its colonial history, but it seems hard to understand how such a change could make much sense except as part of a constitutional package that involved the ditching of the monarchy & a new r’ship with the Pacific.


As Scott suggests, I think that a name change won’t happen on it’s own. It is likely to be included in monarchy/republic and constitution discussions and possible changes.

I think that eventually New Zealand will be officially renamed as Aotearoa. I’d be happy for that to happen, but I don’t know if I will see it happen in my lifetime.

In the meantime Aotearoa and Aotearoa New Zealand are being increasingly used as alternatives, and I think this de facto change of name will continue to grow strength.

 

Ardern promoting untested ‘wellbeing budget’ at Davos

Jacinda Ardern is promoting the New Zealand ‘wellbeing budget’ approach as economic some sort of economic revolution, but at this stage it is little more than a political promise, with little tangible sign of what it actually means in practice. It is little more than an unproven theory.

We won’;t see the first ‘wellbeing budget’ until this May, and it will probably take years to see how it works out.

Prior to heading to Davos for the World Economic Forum Ardern said that New Zealand’s wellbeing budget approach was “generating significant international interest” and “I hope other leaders will come to see more compassionate domestic policy settings as a compelling alternative to the false promise of protectionism and isolation”.

Stuff: PM Jacinda Ardern pumps NZ’s ‘wellbeing budget’ at World Economic Forum

The world is watching the Government’s first “Wellbeing Budget” as economic leaders in Switzerland pressed Jacinda Ardern for details on addressing stability through tackling inequality.

I don’t know how much of the world is watching. Ardern is not mentioned in the current Davos coverage from Reuters – https://www.reuters.com/davos

US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister May were all absent from the forum as they all dealt with domestic crises.

However, it was the relative destabilisation across a number of democracies that developed a large amount of discussion around New Zealand’s first “Wellbeing Budget”, to be delivered by Finance Minister Grant Robertson in May.

“I think in part it might be because other countries, for a number of years, have had scorecards, they have done analyses. But what we’re doing with the wellbeing budget is we’re trying to embed it in the way we make decisions.

“And even re-tooling things like the Public Finance Act so it’s kind of a step further again. And also, as I said to Professor Schwab, there’s a discussion going on here about the destabilisation that we’re seeing in some democracies around the world,” Ardern said.

There were a number of different indicators and reasons as to why that was happening.

“But ultimately, it all bring us back to the same question which is people are feeling dissatisfied, and what’s the cause of that?

“If we can put into our system, new ways of operating that try and get to the heart of what it is people are seeking from their politicians, from elections, then perhaps we can get to the heart of some of that destabilisation that we’re seeing,” Ardern said.

“I think one way to look at it, is one of the big headlines coming out of Davos is the downgrading of expectations out of global growth. And why is that – well, one of the reasons they’re pointing to is of course what’s happening with global trade. And why is that – well, at a local level politicians are responding to people’s dissatisfaction and trade has become a proxy for that.”

Ardern also had a high-level meeting with forum founder and chair Klaus Schwab, where the pair talked about his priority issue deemed the “next industrial revolution”.

“And the response from the global community to issues of digital transformation, to wellbeing and essentially agendas that we’ve been pursuing back in New Zealand.

“He was certainly interested in our wellbeing budget work,” Ardern said.

A deliberately-timed op-ed from the prime minister also ran in the Financial Times overnight, espousing the “economics of kindness” to a global audience.

Ardern is talking big internationally on this, more so than in New Zealand. While there may well be interest in what she is vaguely suggesting I think there will largely be a wait and see approach in other countries.

But Ardern is making some noises about it here. NZ Herald – PM Jacinda Ardern: If a minister wants more money they need to prove how it will better wellbeing

“If you’re a minister and you want to spend money, you have to prove that you’re going to improve intergenerational wellbeing.”

I’m not sure how they can prove something in advance of it happening.

Ardern spent much of her time explaining why her Government was introducing a wellbeing budget this year – a world first.

She made it clear that any minister from her Cabinet would need to keep the Government’s new approach top of mind and ministers would need to work with each other to ensure this was the case.

“So the Minister of Health might want to work with the Minister of Child Poverty and start delivering interventions that make a difference 30 years down the track.”

Ardern is the Minister of Child Poverty Reduction.

May’s budget will measure and report a broader set of indicators, such as child poverty and housing quality, to show a “more rounded version of success”, alongside expected GDP growth.

Although the panel, including Ardern, agreed GDP was still a good way of measuring economic growth, they agreed there were many elements of a country’s wellbeing it did not capture.

But Ardern said the Government’s new approach to wellbeing does not mean GDP would become irrelevant.

“I don’t think it’s the end of GDP, I think it’s the beginning of doing things differently. We distil it down, in New Zealand, to say that for us, it’s about bringing kindness and empathy to governance.”

In terms of New Zealand’s economy, she said the country is doing well – low unemployment, solid GDP growth and a healthy Government surplus.

“But we have homelessness at staggering rates, one of the highest rates of youth suicide in the OECD and our mental health and wellbeing is not where it should be.”

She stressed these are the sorts things the wellbeing budget would measure and her, and successive Governments, could work to address.

It is not revolutionary for a Government to consider the wellbeing of people, that is pretty much what they are supposed to do, and it’;s been that way since governments were invented.

The difference, so far at least, is the focus and emphasis on wellbeing.

This is an admirable approach, but we will have to see what this means in practice, not just in how it may improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders, but what it will cost and what impact it will have on the economy over time.

The wellbeing of the people is inextricably intertwined with the wellbeing of the economy. There has to be a balance between what people would like (for their ‘wellbeing’) and what the country can afford. Labour and Finance Minister Grant Robertson have also promised responsible and prudent budgets.

We will get a first look at what the wellbeing budget agenda means in May. It sounds good in theory, but at this stage it is unproven in practice,

Crises keeping leaders away from Davos, Ardern opportunity

A number of world leaders will be absent from the Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland due to domestic crises. However the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will attend, and has a heavy workload.

Reuters: Gloomy forecast for Davos: crises aplenty, but few world leaders

An array of crises will keep several world leaders away from the annual World Economic Forum in Davos next week, which takes place against a backdrop of deepening gloom over the global economic and political outlook.

Some 3,000 business, government and civil society figures are due to gather in the snow-blanketed ski resort, but among them are only three leaders of the Group of Seven most industrialized countries: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte.

Donald Trump, who stole the Davos limelight last year with a rare appearance by a sitting U.S. president, pulled out of this year’s event as he grapples with a partial U.S. government shutdown.

French President Emmanuel Macron is also skipping the meeting as he seeks to respond to the “yellow vest” protests, while British Prime Minister Theresa May battles to find a consensus on Brexit.

Outside the G7, the leaders of Russia and India are shunning Davos, while China – whose president, Xi Jinping, was the first Chinese leader to attend the elite gathering in 2017 to offer a vigorous defense of free trade – is sending his deputy instead.

So a lack of big names in the world. The problems that may be addressed in their absence:

Anxieties over trade disputes, fractious international relations, Brexit and a growth slowdown that some fear could tip the world economy into recession are set to dominate the Jan. 22-25 Alpine meeting.

The WEF’s own Global Risks Report set the tone this week with a stark warning of looming economic headwinds, in part because of geopolitical tensions among major powers.

So where does Ardern fit in? She has quite a bit to do, with no baby distraction on this international trip.

Fran O’Sullivan: It’s Jacinda Ardern’s chance to shine — but can she show substance too?

Will Jacinda Ardern measure up to the star billing she has been accorded by the World Economic Forum (WEF) at its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland next week?

The WEF highlighted Ardern’s participation among four other “leaders and luminaries” — including naturalist Sir David Attenborough, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prince William — in the key press statement announcing the lineup for Davos 2019.

This is quite striking for a political leader barely into her second year as New Zealand’s Prime Minister and yet to chalk up significant and sustained domestic results.

An extraordinary opportunity for an unproven leader of a small, remote country.

Ardern’s star status will inevitably burnish the PM’s credentials as a “next generation leader” with her finger on the international pulse and an instinct for emerging issues.

But how the Prime Minister translates her growing reputation in key offshore circles into concerted political results at home will ultimately be how she is judged.

Will she be viewed as a political curiosity in the vein of former Labour Prime Minister David Lange, whose communication skills obscured his failure to command his Cabinet?

It will take some time yet to see how Ardern measures up on substance and significant achievements.

The WEF has invited Ardern to join three panels — more than many other “minor” leaders — which will enable her to play to her undoubted communication strengths and position New Zealand (under the Coalition Government) as being progressive on some big issues of our times.

Ardern’s first panel is on is “Safeguarding Our Planet“, where panellists will be asked to address how leaders can take action to safeguard people and the planet.

Other panellists include Afira Sakano, who is chair of Japan’s Zero Waste Academy; Attenborough; former US Vice-President Al Gore, who has carved out a reputation as an environmentalist; and Anand Mahindra, an Indian industrialist.

Ardern’s next panel is “More than GDP“, which will enable her to promote New Zealand’s first “wellbeing Budget”, which Finance Minister Grant Robertson will unveil this year.

The preamble to the panel says it is widely recognised that GDP alone is an inadequate measure of a nation’s progress. “Human capital, well-being, innovation, resilience and agility alongside GDP are critical measures of economic and social progress.”

Again, the panellists will be asked to address what government, business and civil society leaders can do to better capture the less-tangible factors of inclusive growth.

Other notables on this panel include OECD chief Angel Gurria.

He will join Prince William for Ardern’s final panel, which is on mental health.

Ardern says she intends to speak out against “false protectionism and isolation” at Davos, and also in visits to London and Brussels, where she will be promoting trade initiatives in the wake of the Brexit debacle.

“I hope other leaders will come to see more compassionate domestic policy settings as a compelling alternative to the false promise of protectionism and isolation,” she says.

It is interesting to see mental health in the mix.

This raises one of Ardern’s problems so far, talking big but delivering small, or failing to take urgent action on what have been claimed to be urgent issues – like mental health.

It was claimed that mental health care in New Zealand was in crisis two years ago, but incoming Ardern-led Government set up yet another inquiry, and while a report has been delivered the Government are yet to say what they are going to do about it.

Talking up compassion is fine to an extent, but actually delivering in a substantive way is something that Ardern and her Ministers have step up on.

So Ardern is about to step up on the world stage at Davos. It will be interesting to hear what she ways, and to hear the world reaction.

 

Polarisation versus centrism (or can we have both?)

Is political polarisation increasing? Is ‘centrism’ fading away? Is centrism actually a thing?

From Reddit: With the decline of Centrism in global politics, do you see it happening in NZ?

There has a been a trend in the last 2 decade in global politics, in the US, UK Europe etc, we have seen the rise of centrism in politics, New Democrats with Clinton and Obama and New Labour with Tony Blair in UK. Nowadays politics is much more partisan with Democrats going further left and Labour also going left while at the same time the decline of moderates in US and Liberal Democrats decline.

Is politics becoming much more partisan? Or is partisan politics a minority thing that is getting more attention? Controversial politics makes for more dramatic headlines and is more click baity.

Donald Trump certainly drives division as a tactic, but how non-centrist is he?

While their is division in the UK over the Brexit debacle is that because of the strength of partisan politics? Both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn look like weak leaders. There is as much division within their parties as their is between them.  This is more poor politics and poor politicians on both sides rather than a rise in partisanship.

Could we see the same thing in NZ, where NZF along with United Future, both centrist parties decline, with Labour/Greens and National/ACT moving further apart?

IS NZ First really a ‘centrist’ party?  Aren’t they more populist? Their last election position on Immigration was right wing-ish, but what they have supported on immigration is the opposite of that, but very similar to what National did and what Labour are doing.

NZ First already declined, dropping out of Parliament in 2008, but came back in 2011 and rose to power in 2017. It is too soon to write them off.

It’s hard to know where National will position themselves under Simon Bridges. Some of Bridges’ policy positions, like on drug law reform and abortion, may be right-ish, but they are unpopular.

Jacinda Ardern has talked up being a progressive and transformative government, but has not actually proven that much yet. Economically the government has been cautious, following much the same line of the last National government.

Proteus_Core:

Short answer…yes, I see growing polarization in NZ politics which I believe will only get worse in the future. I also could easily see the proposition you put forward happening and I actually believe its a probability at this stage and certainly at the next election.

Signs of polarization in social media does not mean that the general voting population is polarising. I think that most people are probably more disinterested than supporting strong positions either way.

Waterbogan:

Yes, in fact it is already happening. United Future has already declined into oblivion, and I see NZ First following them in short order as they have lost a bunch of supporters since the election and again more recently. I would say there is room for another party on the centre/right aiming at the market sector NZ First and the Conservatives formerly shared between them.

United Future faded away, but so is ACT, so did Jim Anderton’;s Progressive Party, so has the Mana Party, and the Conservative Party. Green support has over halved. All small parties have struggled to survive, no matter where they are in the political spectrum.

‘spoondooly’:

There will always be room for populism in NZ but the nature of our political system is that it drives centrism to a degree.

The reality is that parties (by and large) need the centre vote as that is largely where the swing vote occurs. It drives moderate politics to a degree and has brought both our centre left and centre right parties together.

Even populist parties such as NZ First have to largely ditch their manifesto when in power as the majority party would be severely damaged by any coalition arrangement if that manifesto was fully recognised.

So there will always be a degree of populism but by and large NZ is centrist and moderate and our politics recognise this.

This probably reflects two things.

Most Kiwis are fairly moderate (as opposed to centrist) in their political preferences. There are a number of bell curves like this:

And MMP tends to moderate more than polarise, with National and Labour fighting over a fairly large swing vote in the centre.

‘bogan_avant_garde’:

Wait until you hear about the policies of Michael Joseph Savage. Labour are struggling to return to the position on the political spectrum they held from 1916-1983.

Ardern has tried to present herself as a great shift leader, but she is yet to deliver.

The idea that neo-liberal market capitalism with low regulation and free movement of capital is centrism is laughable. What you are seeing when you see Labour ‘shifting to the left’ is in fact Labour shifting to the centre and providing an actual centrist alternative to right wing orthodoxy.

The small noisy left are growing in dismay at the lack of action from Labour and even the Greens. The small noisy right are probably always dismayed and always will be.

The extremes are minorities.

Image result for bell curve politics

(That’s from The Political Typologies of American Educators but is indicative of minority extremes).

One of New Zealand’s most polarising politicians has been Winston Peters, but that’s only when in Opposition. He is currently in Government, and is mostly quite non-controversial.

I don’t think we have much of a problem with polarisation here. We have a much bigger problem with political apathy (if that is actually a problem).

(This is not original) I tried to start up an Apathy Party, but no one was interested.

Overreaction to criticism of Maori version of awful anthem

Someone said something stupid about the Maori version of the New Zealand National Anthem on Facebook – stupid things on Facebook are common.

But this was from a city councillor from New Plymouth, Murray Chong, who responded to a post asking “”name a song you are ashamed of singing” with:

“The te reo version of the NZ national anthem”.

That got some media attention – New Plymouth councillor labels Māori version of national anthem a tune he is ‘ashamed to sing’.

Dr Andy Asquith, a Massey University senior lecturer and commentator on local government issues, said in his opinion it was not about politics but about responsibility and recognising that the country has two languages.

“I’m just astounded at the insensitivity of it to be honest,” he said.

“We’re now in an election year so this could well be part of an attempt to build up a profile.”

It could just as easily be a throw away line on Facebook that has nothing to do with the election.

More people started to make a big deal out of what looks to me like a fairly trivial comment in social media.

Stuff:  More than 1500 join call for anthem ‘shame’ councillor to quit

New Plymouth councillor Murray Chong is facing a barrage of criticism, has been censured by his mayor and there’s even a petition calling on him to resign for saying he was ashamed to sing the national anthem in te reo.

New Zealander of the Year for 2014, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, weighed in on the controversy with a scathing social media post on Tuesday that the incident “goes to show that USA is not the only country that is capable of electing idiots to public office”.

He has also been censured by his mayor Neil Holdom, who had already censured the councillor last month for proclaiming on radio he had no issue flying a Confederate flag during Taranaki’s Americarna car festival.

Chong’s track record has been slammed as “despicable” by political commentator Dr Andy Asquith and a petition calling for the councillor to resign had gathered 1550 signatures in 24 hours.

Another bloody petition calling on someone to resign.

Politicians are elected. They should only resign in extraordinary circumstances, not because a few people call for it in a petition. Elections are the normal (and democratic) way of dealing with politicians.

Editorial (Stuff): Councillor’s shame at singing anthem in Māori demands explanation

If New Plymouth District Councillor Murray Chong chooses not to sing the national anthem in Māori, that is his choice. 

And it is a legitimate one. It would be a terrifying day indeed if there were ever a law that made the singing of a national anthem compulsory

The issue with Chong’s latest controversial Facebook post, this time about our national anthem, is that he is ashamed to sing it in te reo.

Such sentiment demands explanation.

Does it?

He’s ashamed, he explains, because the original version was in English and if we are “forced” to sing it in two languages then we should also perform the haka in two languages.

I think that’s pathetic reasoning, but can’t we just make up our own minds what we think?

Chong’s attitude to te reo is concerning in a multi-cultural nation but it’s not out of step with thousands of others who view the language’s growing presence as something “forced” on them.

That attitude is not going to change over night. There will be some, many thousands, who will hold that position no matter what. And these people will see Chong as one person “brave” enough to speak the truth.

But we should hope that there are many more thousands who will at least be open to learning about why te reo is so integral to this country’s past, present and future.

Chong’s social media behaviour does nothing to advance such an openness and it is disappointing the councillor appears content to continually act in a way that divides rather than unites.

Because even though it’s a tired cliche, it’s as true now as ever that united we stand and divided we fall.

We should be compelled to be united in expressing love and admiration for both versions of the anthem?

After the barrage Chong apologised. RNZ: New Plymouth councillor Murray Chong apologises for te reo Māori anthem comments

In a written statement, Mr Chong said he stood by his election promise of “saying it like I see it” and wanted to encourage constructive discussion on matters important to ratepayers.

He said he wanted to make clear his views did not represent his fellow councillors or the council.

Mr Chong has previously described te reo Māori as a dying language and has been censured twice before for race-based comments.

New Plymouth mayor Neil Holdom yesterday said he had given Mr Chong an official telling off, but would not say what the censure would mean in practice or how often a councillor could be censured before further action would be taken.

Only in the Internet age would this sort of nonsense make national news. And the ease of starting a petition is making a farce of them.

I have often said I don’t like the original (English) version  of our anthem. It’s often a non-uplifting dirge (sometimes it is sung ok).

I think that the God-laden lyrics are embarrassing for a national anthem, especially in a secular country the 21st century.

I don’t sing it because of the lyrics, and because I would be embarrassed for anyone to hear my monotonic mangling. I don’t sing the Maori version  for the same reasons.

But I actually prefer hearing the Maori version. The te reo sounds far less bombastic and dated – and i can pretend I don’t understand what it means.

 

 

New Zealand politicians as cars

From Reddit:

From comments:

The Andrew Little van is a Hiace, not aa Hilux.

Iain Lees-Galloway- Citroën Visa

  • Great to pick up dodgy looking hitchhikers in

  • Hard to maintain properly so doesn’t bother

  • Rear view mirror is great to groom beard in instead of reading boring files

  • Only a five seater but once crammed 11 people in and 3 on the roof

Iain Lees-Galloway – Chevrolet Corvair Gen I

  • Sharp looking

  • Not road-worthy

If David Seymour was a form of transport he would definitely be a new and untested, yet surprisingly feasible but also not entirely thought out form of transport.

Judith Collins is more a Ford Ranger.

Who’s the Outback/Legacy? Gotta be Bill English

Gareth Morgan – gen1 Toyota Prius

  • smug self-superiority and endless virtue signalling

  • thinks the only reason you don’t like him is because you hate the planet

  • actually a good idea with lots of positive hype, actually runs like shit when the chips are down

Some comment on Chloe Swarbrick:

I think this is a bit mean to Chloe, is she really that hated?

She’s completely my brand of politics but she still pisses me off. Would totally vote for her, regardless.

I think a lot of people like her (including me) but a few are pissed off, and I guess the creator just made everything about everyone more dramatic.

I wouldn’t say hated, but she slightly annoys me. I’d still vote for her, she has good ideas.

She’s a bit smug imo. As someone who voted green I would have rather had her further down the list to make room for the prior competent green MPs who didn’t make it back in like Mojo Mathers

I don’t hate her, I’m just bored and exasperated.

This must have been picked up from Facebook.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, car and text

 

NZ population 5 million in the next year or so

The population is closing in on 5 million and should get there in about a year at current growth rates.

The million milestones:

  • 1 million – 1908
  • 2 million – 1952
  • 3 million – 1973
  • 4 million – 2003
  • 5 million – 2019/2020

The gap between 1 and 2 million would have been affected in particular by two world wars and the influenza epidemic just after WW1, but it was a doubling of the population in 44 years. The population will also have approximately doubled in my lifetime (to date).

The next millions were added in 21 years, 30 years and about 17 years, all largely due to immigration.

RNZ:  Population fast approaching five million this year

Meteor or Russian satellite

Something burned up in the sky above northern New Zealand last night, but what was it?

Newshub has Sky TV coverage here: Meteor seen flying over New Zealand