Survey “reveals significant gaps in adult New Zealanders’ general knowledge”

The NZ Initiative has done a survey to try to gage levels of public knowledge.

New research released by The New Zealand Initiative reveals significant gaps in adult New Zealanders’ general knowledge.

Ignorance is not bliss: Why knowledge matters (and why we may not have enough of it) argues that although information is readily available nowadays, our basic knowledge of subjects like geography, history, and maths is low.

To get a glimpse of the state of general knowledge in New Zealand, the Initiative commissioned a representative survey of 1000 voting-age New Zealanders. Respondents were asked 13 general knowledge questions.

All of the questions asked in the survey:

I’ll change this to include the answers and results later.


Survey: ‘moderate to high’ support for legal abortion

The Government is currently reviewing abortion law, which currently in practice offers choice but forces women to claim severe mental distress in order to get a ‘legal’ abortion.

Two thirds of people in a survey have shown support for the right of a woman to choose about abortion in any circumstances.

  • 65% agreed or strongly agreed with a woman’s right to choose, under any circumstance
  • 89.3% support abortion if the woman’s life was in danger

It’s a small minority but I think it’s remarkable that 10% oppose abortion if the woman’s life is in danger.

Stuff: Legalised abortion generally supported by New Zealanders – Auckland University survey

University of Auckland PhD student, Yanshu Huang, analysed the attitudes of 19,973 people who took part in the 2016/17 New Zealand Attitudes and Values study, a national longitudinal study of people aged over 18.

Huang, a research assistant at the university’s Public Policy Institute, said the results suggested “the majority of New Zealanders are supportive of legalised abortion” and were “quite open” to legislative change.

The findings, published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday, found “moderate to high” support for legalised abortion regardless of the reason, and “high” support when a woman’s life was under threat.

Changing perceptions and the conversation around abortion law reform prompted Huang to look at not just how many people support legalised abortion, but what factors influenced their support.

The research was completed as part of Huang’s doctoral dissertation at the School of Psychology.

As well as rating their attitudes, participants were asked their age, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation, parental status, number of children, relationship and employment status and level of education.

Overall, men expressed “only slightly” less support than women for legalised abortion for any reason, Huang said.

Being older, identifying as religious, being of lower socioeconomic status and having lower levels of education were also linked to being less supportive of abortion, regardless of the reason.

Those who identified as religious expressed less support no matter what the circumstance.

That isn’t surprising – but the numbers suggest that many people who identified as religious support abortion, especially when the woman’s life is in danger.

Minister for Justice Andrew Little welcomed the results of the research.

“This is an important public conversation, and one in which women’s voices, experiences, and safety must be prioritised,” he said.

Little said he looked forward to “progressing both the public and policy discussions” around abortion law reform in the coming months. ​

October 2018: Law Commission abortion law reform briefing received

Justice Minister Andrew Little received today the Law Commission’s briefing on alternative approaches to abortion law.

“Our abortion law is over forty years old, starts with the proposition that an abortion is a crime. In February, I asked the Law Commission for advice on treating abortion as a health matter could look like,” Andrew Little said.

“I acknowledge that the subject of abortion is a personal one for each MP. I will be taking time to talk to my colleagues across all parties about the Law Commission’s briefing before progressing further,” Andrew Little said.

The Law Commission’s briefing examines what abortion law could look like if abortion was treated as a health issue. The paper outlines:

  • three models for when abortion is available
  • changes to:
    • the criminal aspects of abortion law
    • access to abortion services, where abortions are performed, and by whom
    • the oversight of abortion services
  • related issues, such as women’s informed consent, counselling services, and conscientious objection by health practitioners.

The Law Commission’s briefing paper is available at here:

Abortion statistics: Year ended December 2018

There were 13,282 abortions performed in New Zealand in 2018, similar to the year before.

In 2018, 19 percent of known pregnancies (live births, stillbirths, and induced abortions) ended in an induced abortion. This ratio has decreased since its peak in 2003 (25 percent) but has been relatively stable since 2012.

Women in their 20s were most likely to have an abortion in 2018, accounting for 52 percent of all abortions.

Abortions for women under 20 have been decreasing since the peak in 2007. In 2018, 10 percent of abortions were for women under 20, compared with 23 percent 11 years ago.

In comparison, the proportion of abortions for women 30 years and over has been increasing. In 2018, 38 percent of abortions were for women aged 30 and over, compared with 28 percent in 2007.

In 2018, 19 percent of known pregnancies (live births, stillbirths, and induced abortions) ended in an induced abortion. This ratio has decreased since its peak in 2003 (25 percent) but has been relatively stable since 2012.

More women are having abortions earlier. In 2018, 60 percent of abortions were performed before 10 weeks of pregnancy. This compares with 46 percent in 2008, and 38 percent in 1998.

I get the sanctity of life arguments, but with abortions the life of the woman is involved, with a foetus being fully dependent on the woman for the chance of life.

A statistic I haven’t seen is how much the number of abortions affects the eventual number of lives/babies.

Contraception is almost universally accepted as a prudent means of birth control, and also an essential means of limiting population increases.

As far as ‘lives’ are concerned, there seems to be no practical difference between:

– a woman using birth control, then ceasing birth control and having two children, then preventing any further pregnancies through birth control

– a woman having an abortion, subsequently using birth control, then ceasing birth control and having two children, then preventing any further pregnancies through birth control

If birth control or abortion defers the timing of having a family until a parent or parents are better able to care and rear, that must generally be a positive.


Survey into Medicinal Cannabis use

A survey of users of medicinal cannabis has been launched. This should get useful information, but as a lot of medical cannabis use is likely to be illegal it may be difficult to get a comprehensive picture.

MCANZ launches its first study of Medical Cannabis users in NZ.

An unprecedented research project to discover how and why New Zealanders are using cannabis medicinally has been launched today by Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand.

The study, New Zealand Medicinal Cannabis Use Research Survey 2019, is an online survey of patients using cannabis for medical reasons based on Australia’s Cannabis As Medicine Survey and has been designed in conjunction with University of Otago researcher Dr Geoff Noller. It has been granted ethics approval and is MCANZ’s first research project.

“During the Select Committee process last year, it became apparent that no one had any data on the trends in illicit medical use, such as the rate of criminalization or even a decent snapshot of what conditions were most common for illicit medical use,” says MCANZ Coordinator Shane Le Brun.

“The only research relevant was a Ministry of Health study on cannabis use dating from 2012-2013, and frankly, medical use was only an afterthought in that research,” says MCANZ Le Brun.

“This research is a first for MCANZ and we’re delighted to be working with  Dr Noller. This first survey will give us a snapshot of current medical use in New Zealand and establish trends and areas that will need focus in the setting up of New Zealand’s new medicinal cannabis regime.” says Le Brun

“The intent is for this study to be conducted every 2 years, so the first study will serve as a baseline for the future, particularly to measure the impact of the Medical Cannabis Scheme,” says Lead investigator  Dr. Geoff Noller.

“The study covers topics ranging from perceived medical efficacy, knowledge of harm reduction such as vaping, and the impact of criminality on medical use,” says Noller.

If you use medicinal cannabis you can do the survey here:

New Zealand Medicinal Cannabis Use Research Survey 2019

NZ plummets in energy investment ranking, Government happy

New Zealand has dropped from 14th to 46th in a ranking of attractiveness to energy investors. This isn’t surprising after the Government put significant limitations on oil and gas exploration.

‘Green’ or alternative energy prospects don’t seem to rate – I’m still unclear how we will meet al our energy needs if we transition away from fossil fuels completely as some want.

NZH:  Survey of top energy executives shows NZ has become a lot less attractive for investors

An annual survey of the world’s leading oil executives, which ranks the ease of investment into oil and gas producing countries, shows New Zealand has dramatically dropped down the list in terms of its attractiveness to investors.

The Fraser Institute, which has run the survey every year for 12 years, asks executives to rank provinces, states and countries according to the extent to which barriers to investment in oil and gas exploration and production are present.

New Zealand’s attractiveness to investors has dropped from the 14th highest country/region to 46 in the space of a year.

“This drop is based on poorer scores with respect to political stability, environmental regulations and protected areas and taxation in general,” the report said.

The Opposition is critical.

National’s Energy spokesman Jonathan Young put the blame for the drop squarely in the lap of the Government.

In April, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern banned future offshore oil and gas exploration in New Zealand with the exception of Taranaki.

The ban took the industry by surprise because it was not part of any confidence and supply or coalition agreement and had not been explicitly promised by Labour during the election campaign.

According to some industry players surveyed in the Fraser Institute report, this was a key reason for the drop in New Zealand’s attractiveness.

“New Zealand’s move to ban new offshore exploration is a deterrent for investors,” one said.

“Jurisdictions that are openly hostile towards resource development, like New Zealand, cause investors to take their investment dollars elsewhere,” said another.

Young was not surprised by this and said the ban had “scared off” potential investors and would cost the economy tens of millions of dollars.

It’s not surprising – it looks like to an extent at least it was the intent of the ban, or it must have been at least a predictable consequence.

Energy Minister Megan Woods is unrepentant:

“We’re incredibly proud of the fact that New Zealand is leading the world on a managed, long term transition to a clean energy future.”

Hardly. The Government has limited fossil fuel exploration possibilities, but I have seen little of the other side of the equation – alternatives.

“International investors will consider a range of information when making decisions about where to invest, including the likelihood of a discovery and the likely value of any potential discovery.”

Climate Change Minister James Shaw was not surprised by the survey.

He said because oil and gas exploration was being phased out in New Zealand, there was not actually much more investment in the sector that was needed.

“So it’s unsurprising that investors in that industry would be saying that over the long term it’s not a place they wanted to end up.”

Shaw needs to come up with a credible path to sufficient alternative energy to replace fossil fuels, otherwise we will either have an energy shortfall, or will have to rely more on more expensive imports of fuel.

I’d love to see polluting fuels phased out, but I would also love to see a realistic and viable plan for what will replace them. At the moment I see little more than pie in the sky idealism.

Energy of dreams – ban them, and alternatives will come. Maybe.


What are Kiwi values?

When NZ First said they were considering a bill requiring immigrants to comply with undefined ‘Kiwi values’ it raised the obvious question – what are Kiwi values?  We are a diverse bunch.

AMP/Stuff are doing a survey to try to find out what values matter to us.

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE KIWI: New Zealanders loved Kiwiana and it helped define us on the world stage. Tell us what you think are the values, old and new, that define 21st Century New Zealand, in the AMP/Stuff Survey of Values.

I encourage everyone to contribute to this survey.

It would also be good to discuss some of this here.

Which values do you MOST STRONGLY associate with Kiwis / New Zealanders today?

PRAGMATISM – Down to earth and practical, we get things done

PUNCHING ABOVE – We love an underdog, we back the little guy

WORK LIFE BALANCE – Enjoying the 40-hour work week and good quality family time

SPORTING EXCELLENCE – passionate players, coaches, supporters and fans

TEAM SPIRIT – Working together to solve problems / win

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY – Equality for everyone in health, education, housing, social status etc

CELEBRATE DIVERSITY – Of other cultures, life choices, religions

OUTWARD LOOKING – Embracing the world beyond our shores

ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT – Courageous, give things a go, we have a sense of adventure

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT – Looking after and enjoying our natural environment

MODESTY – Not blowing our own trumpet

SAFETY & SECURITY – Safe from crime, corruption, nuclear war

COMMUNITY SPIRIT – Looking after one another and helping one another

KINDNESS – Being kind to one another, supporting and forgiving

INCLUSIVENESS – Accepting and respecting one another

INDIVIDUAL CHOICE – Challenging, making our voice heard

INNOVATION – Number 8 wire mentality, thinking differently and creatively


Any others?

What about sense of humour?

We are really good promoting how modest we are and how we don’t blow our own trumpets.

Update: I am just doing the survey and I am very disappointed in this:

Which ETHNICITY do you most associate with?
NZ European
Pacific Islander
Other Asian
Other European
Other Ethnicity

In a survey in Kiwi values the ethnicity that I value is not an option! I had to put ‘other ethnicity’ as the least inappropriate.

Law harassment survey

Most criminal lawyers have experienced or seen bullying or harassment in the profession, and the majority of offenders are judges.

RNZ:  Judges worst offenders in law harassment survey

Criminal Bar Association vice-president Elizabeth Hall, who instigated the survey, said the “staggering” results were “obviously of deep concern to both the association and the Law Society”.

Types of abuse include shouting, insults and threats, and nearly one in three had experienced unwelcome sexual attention.

In nearly 65 percent of cases, the person doing the harassing or bullying was a judge.

Fewer than 17 percent of respondents made an official complaint – mainly because they believed it would not make any difference and they were afraid of the repercussions.

Of those who did complain, just 6 percent felt this fixed the problem.

  • Of the 283 respondents (181 women, 102 men), about 60 percent had been in practice more than nine years
  • 88.1 percent had personally experienced or witnessed bullying or harassment in the last four years
  • Most commonly type of bullying:
    – mockery 69.2%
    -invalid criticism 60%
    – shouting 58%
    – bullying based on age/ experience 57%
    – personal insults 45%
    – unwelcome sexual attention 28.5%
    – threats 27.3%
  • Effect of the bullying/harassment: stress, loss of confidence, anxiety, fear, moved jobs

The law profession was not alone in having with problems with harassment or abuse, Ms Hall said.

“But what is unique to the sphere of criminal practice is this very entrenched hierarchical structure governed by people who have come up through this system in which you go down to court and have strips torn off you by the judge or opposing council, you patch yourself up and do it again the next day.

“That was the practice 20 or 30 years ago – but times have changed, people have moved on and that sort of thing is no longer acceptable.”

Another questionable poll

There are many very questionable polls run online. There is no way of knowing how inaccurate or slanted or rigged they are.

Here is some strong and generally justified criticism of some polling two election campaigns ago.

Colin Craig and his dodgy polling, Ctd

Colin Craig is at it again, using dodgy polling to justify his own agenda.

…That all sounds interesting until, yet again, it turns out that it is not a representative sample and there is a margin of error of 6.9%.

Colin’s strategy is flawed.

Here is another flawed polling strategy.

POLL: Will National get your 2017 Party Vote?

Whaleoil is running a  regular poll to see where those who supported National during the 2014 election are likely to go this year.   We aim to detect any shifts throughout the year leading up to September.

If you did not vote for National in 2014, and you do intend to do so for 2017, then this poll isn’t for you.  We are looking to measure the “restlessness” among 2014 National supporters.

But it is a self selecting poll there is no control over who responds to the poll, so no way of knowing who respondents voted for in 2014.

Normally running political polls on partisan blogs is pointless.

Not just normally.

Asking our audience who they will vote for and assuming that is a fair representation of the nation would be beyond stupid.

But in this case Whaleoil is somewhat representative of the most committed and interested in politics that normally would support the centre right of politics.

There’s no way of knowing that with any accuracy.

As such, measuring a shift in our audience will be significant as an indicator of what National supporters are considering at large.

A rough indicator at best. The poll:


A decent number of responses. The poll results:


Oddly the number of responses has dropped by a about 20%. Results from all polls this year:

Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug A Aug B Sep
Other 5 5 4 5 5 4 3 3 3
WILL vote National again 53 55 48 52 57 55 68 76 78
MIGHT vote National again 23 21 20 17 15 16 13 8 7
WON’T vote National again 19 19 28 26 23 25 16 13 12

This was from a 1900+ voter sample*.  The voters are Whaleoil readers.

It isn’t a sample. “A sample survey is a process for collecting data on a sample of observations which are selected from the population of interest using a probability-based sampledesign. In sample surveys, certain methods are often used to improve the precision and control the costs of survey data collection.”

It is self selecting  survey with no way of knowing anything about the quality of those who responded.

Based on this non-scientific but strongly indicative Whaleoil poll, National will get 39-41% of the party vote in September, depending on the proportion of wasted votes being distributed from parties such as TOP and the Conservatives which will not make it to parliament.

It isn’t strongly indicative, it is roughly indicative at best. There is no indication what the assertion “National will get 39-41% of the party vote in September” is based on.

Even if the survey could have limited respondents to people who voted for National in 2014 this only tries to measure the number of people who intend to vote National again, or who intend to not vote National.

It has deliberately tried to exclude anyone who voted Conservatives, ACT, UF, NZ First, Labour, Greens or the Internet Party last election and who may now be considering switching to National.

It tries to exclude people who could have voted last election but didn’t. It tries to exclude first time voters.

It may (or may not) be a coincidence that for months Cameron Slater has been claiming that National support will drop and they are likely to go as low as the thirties, and that is what this suspect poll analysis somehow arrives at.

The survey and the analysis/assertions should be taken with a big bucket of salt. It could be as shonky as Craig’s self promoting polls last campaign.

Vote for Policies survey

Vote for Policies was adapted for New Zealand by volunteers to help inform voters and encourage participation in the election. It is based on a UK election tool.

Vote for policies, not personalities

Can’t decide who to vote for?
Not sure what you’re voting for?
Find out whose policies you prefer for the 2017 general election.
It’s quick, fun, and sometimes surprising! 

Vote for Policies helps you make an informed, unbiased decision about who to vote for. Compare policies on a range of key issues (such as Education, Economy or the Environment) without knowing which party they belong to. It’s the best way to get a clear, informed and unbiased view of what each party is promising to do. But be ready – the results can be surprising!

In 2017 a group of volunteers brought Vote for Policies to New Zealand! We are not linked with any political party or commercial entity. Our aim is to increase participation in elections by helping people compare the policies of the political parties. We read all the policies for you, summarise the most important points and present them side by side so you can make an informed decision.

How did you choose which parties to include?

The MMP system is designed to give smaller parties a chance for representation. In the same spirit, we decided to include all parties represented in Parliament and all those parties outside Parliament that have at least as much support as the smallest party in Parliament. We excluded parties that do not have policies for at least 3 of the 5 main areas that we cover. In 2017 the following parties are included:

  • National Party
  • Labour Party
  • NZ First Party
  • Green Party
  • ACT
  • Maori Party
  • United Future
  • Mana
  • The Opportunities Party
  • Conservative Party

How did you choose which issues to include?We aim to cover the main policy areas that all parties have policies for, and we update them with each new election to make sure they are relevant. To keep the survey short, we grouped the issues into 5 main areas:

  • Economy: jobs, housing, tourism, infrastructure, crown debt
  • Education
  • Environment: water, climate change, energy
  • Foreign Affairs: immigration, trade, defence
  • Welfare and Social Issues: tax, benefits, healthcare, inequality/poverty, Maori affairs

You can select which of the 5 topics are important for you and only do the survey about those.

Where do you get the policies from?

The policies come from the documents published on the websites of each political party. We take up to eight policies based on the priority in which they appear in the policy documents. We also try to include policies on core issues from every party (e.g. superannuation age, house building, net migration) to make it easier to compare across parties. Before releasing them on the site we send them to each political party for any comments.

How is Vote for Policies different to other voter advice services?

There are other ‘Voter Advice Applications’ (VAAs) available, we recommend you try them all. There is a list of links below. What’s different about Vote for Policies is that it allows you to focus on the merits of the policies of each party. You can compare actual policies without knowing which party they belong to, so you can put aside your preconceptions.

These are some of the other VAA applications in 2017:

It would be good to get some feedback the Vote for Policies survey.

CEOs rate Trump an “F”

From the annual Yale CEO Summit survey on Donald Trump’s performance”

  • 50% of the CEOs, business execs, government officials and academics surveyed give Trump an “F” for his first 130 days in office
  • 21% rated Trump a ‘D’
  • 1% rated Trump an ‘A’

The Yale findings are the latest evidence that some pockets of the business community are growing disenchanted with Trump as his administration struggles to implement its economic agenda amid scandal and missteps.

Trump is way out of step with many in business on climate change.

Earlier this month, Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord sparked an unprecedented revolt by CEOs. Business leaders led by Tesla founder Elon Musk, Disney CEO Bob Iger and JPMorgan Chase boss Jamie Dimon publicly bashed the decision.

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein even sent his first-ever tweet to slam the move as a “setback” for U.S. leadership in the world.

CEOs surveyed by Yale agree with that sentiment. Two-thirds of respondents indicated that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord diminished America’s global standing.

Which could mean it’s not good for business.

Business leaders are not impressed with Trump’s budget either. Three-fourths of survey respondents said the administration’s budget proposal is not sound.

Politicians also – just one example: Trump’s EPA budget cuts hit strong opposition at House panel – “Members of both parties identified major problems they had with the proposed 30 percent cut to the EPA’s budget and pressed Administrator Scott Pruitt to defend them.”

The overarching message from CEOs is: “Stop the random 3 a.m. tweets and stop the needless brushfires diverting from the agenda,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the Yale School of Management professor who led the summit.

A no-brainer, still ignored by Trump. Recently:

Both Trump and Clinton could do with leaving her failed bid for the presidency in the past.

But as has become common  Trump Contradicts His Own Account of Comey Firing

Trump terminated Comey on May 9. Two days later, the president revealed he was going to fire him no matter what senior Justice Department officials recommended.

“I was going to fire Comey,” Trump told NBC News in an interview taped May 11. “Regardless of the recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

All these distractions and a lack of consistency are not good for the US business or democracy.

Trump has plenty of time to turn things around, focus, and achieve worthwhile things but he seems too easily distracted.

US general discussion

News or views or issues from the USA.USFlag

The White House is seeking suggestions via an online survey on “ways to reorganize the executive branch and eliminate unnecessary agencies”.

Reorganizing the Executive Branch: We Need Your Input!

On March 13th, President Donald J. Trump signed an Executive Order that will make the Federal government more efficient, effective, and accountable to you, the American people. This Executive Order directs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to present the President with a plan that recommends ways to reorganize the executive branch and eliminate unnecessary agencies.

President Trump wants to hear your ideas and suggestions on how the government can be better organized to work for the American people.

Getting ideas and views from the public is good in a democracy, but a self-selecting online survey won’t give an accurate idea of what the public overall want.

It is fine to get ideas, but is no good as a measurement of public opinion.

The fine print of the survey:

The White House welcomes and values all comments from the public in response to the request for improvements in the organization and functioning of the Executive Branch. The White House may not respond to every comment that is submitted and submissions do not bind the Office of Management and Budget or the Administration to further action. The United States Government reserves full rights to use, copy, or distribute submissions for its purposes without compensation or approval on the part of the submitter. Because your comment may be made available to the public, you are responsible for ensuring that your submissions are free of confidential information, such as personally identifiable information, copyright or other intellectual property restrictions.

By submitting, you agree to receive White House emails about this and other issues.

That last paragraph may raise some concerns – it looks like the survey could be used for email harvesting. That may put some people off submitting on the survey, which may skew the numbers.