COVID Level 1 for New Zealand from Thursday


On Thursday at 0000 hours COVID Level 2 will take force in Auckland, nearly 6 weeks after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern sent the country’s most populous region back to Level 3 (2 for the rest of New Zealand). At the same time Level 1 will take effect across the rest of New Zealand.

The country has spent the last nearly 6 weeks at an elevated COVID19 level as it stamps out what appears to be the inevitable second wave. In that time 200+ more cases have been added to the New Zealand tally, whilst 3 more deaths were also recorded.

It has not come without significant controversy though as conspiracy parties such as Advance New Zealand try to make people believe COVID19 is a cover for a takeover of New Zealanders rights by the Government. They point to actions by the New Zealand Defence Force, and Police during the first lock down – actions that are actually sanctioned by decades old legislation: the Health Act 1956; Civil Defence and Emergency Management Act 2002 and the Pandemic Preparedness Act 2006.

However it also means New Zealand has possibly achieved something no other country has yet done: seeing off the second wave of COVID19 without it merging with the mayhem caused by the first.

COVID19 waves and their impacts (IMAGE: VICTOR TSENG)Whilst we had a second wave, the strategy employed meant that only the Auckland area was made to shut down to Level 3, whilst the rest of the country went to Level 2. For the second time this year Auckland will be reopening on Thursday to an elevated alert level and wondering how much of 2020 can be salvaged from two lengthy shut down periods. For the first time too, campaigning for the 2020 General Election will be able to take place.

Many on the far right will continue to say that New Zealand is bent on destroying its own economy. They will continue to claim that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is a Communist whose goal is a takeover of the country. These people could not be more wrong, and potentially could not be less empathetic with the families of the dead and the people who have suffered it, if they had tried. But not only that, the level of deceit being foisted upon New Zealanders just trying to get their lives back on track in what has been a very testing year by any reasonable measure, is quite shocking.

As for other countries, Australia, despite having the misfortune of having to watch Victoria slump back into lock down, is still the best friendly country. Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales as well as the Northern Territory are all largely open to domestic travel. Like New Zealand their border is largely shut, with only a few people who are citizens or permanent residents being allowed back.

Watching from a far, it seems like COVID19 is some sort of sinking ship. New Zealand and Australia, plus a few other nations have somehow managed to paddle their life boats away from it, whilst the rest of the world continues to struggle to get away.

The long, long list of policy areas M.P.’s are ignoring


I have been reading a book called Fridays with Jim, where David Cohen is interviewing former National Party leader and former Prime Minister Jim Bolger. Aside from being a good book, it raises a number of questions about where New Zealand is headed.

To be clear I am not a National supporter. However Mr Bolger is known for progressive thinking where practicality of policy supersedes political ideology. As such the interviews on which the book is based identify a range of policy areas that are not being addressed by any of the political parties in Parliament, Labour and National included.

This is a list of policy areas/issues no one in Parliament seem to want to talk about, but which are very important to our future as a country.

  • Green technology and science – heard of hempcrete?
  • Constitutional arrangements – Mr Bolger supports a Republic of New Zealand
  • Disabled and vulnerable peoples – not mentioned in the book, but one that I think more effort needs to made to address
  • The loss of jobs to robots and technology – Mr Bolger described a hotel he stayed in in Japan where a robot brought him a towel; supermarkets are becoming self serve
  • Forestry – planting a billion trees is one thing; managing our forests is quite another
  • Men’s welfare, social issues – human rights organizations like Amnesty seem loathe to address them
  • Alternative energy sources such as pump hydro stations, waste to energy and the need for a nation wide plan
  • The future of cars – will there be a hybrid surge before we change to alternative fuels
  • Ending neoliberalism – what are the alternatives, and how do you think we should change?
  • Housing – much noise being made, but clearly no one has answers or a vision
  • Addressing white collar crime, money laundering and shell companies
  • Your privacy in the cyber era – protecting against online threats; social media and how much does your smartphone/etc know about you?

This is not a complete nor comprehensive list. It is merely intended to give you an idea of some topics that are not being discussed – both ones that I identified, and ones that were identified in “Fridays with Jim”. What have I missed that you think should be on here?

The “brain drain” fear is back – or is it?


The “brain drain” fear is back. That old fear/fear mongering of New Zealand losing its best and brightest people – scientists, economists, entrepreneurs, among others – to overseas nations, including and especially Australia, is back.

Or is it? In which case it depends on who you ask. National leader Judith Collins certainly thinks the brain drain danger has returned. For years there was this idea that all of the brightest New Zealanders who could afford to leave were doing so. They were handing in their resignations, chasing up friends who had already left, checking their bank accounts and applying for visas to Canada, Europe, United Kingdom, United States, where they would being a new life working, making money and travelling. Far more serious than a Contiki bus trip that would go to a host of tourist hotspots before the travellers return to their countries of origin, we see people buying one way tickets to another country.

Perhaps the brain drain is simply a National Party attack vehicle to enable them to get at the Government’s economic policies. Perhaps, just as it was heavily used by her National Party predecessors during past stints on the Opposition benches, Ms Collins is using it now to try to gain leverage in a political environment that is not very friendly to unrepentant conservatism. Certainly I can recall former National Party leader Bill English using it during the early part of the 2000’s to criticize the leftist Government of Prime Minister Helen Clark. His successor in that role Dr Don Brash and later former Prime Minister John Key also used it.

In all of these instances it was about the Government’s anti-business attitude; their tax policy; how red tape will ruin New Zealand; how we cannot afford the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process; how our social welfare policy sucks up untold billions. Yet, the moment Labour are not in office, the “brain drain”, is suddenly no longer an issue.

But how seriously do people want to move to Australia at the moment? Since March, New Zealand has gained massive respect from millions of people around the world for its firm line on COVID19. It has seen political commentators who normally have little to do with New Zealand praising the country for its reaction. A response led by Government that for a change put science front and centre. Too often we do not give our scientific community the respect they deserve, and Labour, like National are guilty of using science when it suits them.

Since the Ardern Government began in 2017, new words not normally in political language – kindness and compassion – have entered mainstream political conversations. The 2019 mosque attack, the Whakaari/White Island eruption and now this have all combined to show that whilst Labour-led Governments can be a bit of a challenge to businesses, they address some of the social issues National are less inclined to. So whilst a brain drain is sometimes attached to Labour-led Governments, a social drain sometimes happens on the watch of National-led Governments.

What is New Zealand Public Party doing with its finances?


It has emerged that $255,000 has been donated to the New Zealand Public Party, despite that party never actually registering. But whilst an academic says that this is unprecedented, due to a perceived loop hole in the law, it is entirely illegal.

N.Z.P.P. has been around since June. It was one of a flurry of little parties that started up in early and mid 2020, but unlike the other small parties – Real New Zealand, Prosperity and Hannah Tamaki’s Vision Party – N.Z.P.P. has flourished on the back of its view that COVID19 is a scam; the United Nations has a one world agenda and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is bent on taking away ones rights. Its leader Billy Te Kahika Jnr (not to be confused with his father, a known and respected musician) rose to prominence over lock down for how rapidly he went from embracing it to calling lock down a scam.

In that time its existence has been a wild ride. From leading street protests against lock down to having to answer questions about the state of its finances, policies and association with disgraced former National M.P. Jami-Lee Ross, it has been full on. But today’s announcement might be the biggest hurdle to over come yet, or possibly an embarrassing indictment on our electoral finance laws.

So, a question has to be asked as to whether this is a loop hole in New Zealand electoral law that New Zealand Public Party has taken unethical advantage of. Or is it a case of N.Z.P.P. actually – as Mr Te Kahika claims – not being able to register the party in time?

So, perhaps this is not as straight forward as people are making it out to be. A simple time line of N.Z.P.P.’s history shows that its first meeting was on 11 June. The New Zealand Electoral Commission advises an 8 week wait for a political party to be registered, meaning a party wanting to be registered by the Writ Day, would have to have submitted its registration by 21 June. Writ Day is when Parliament declares an election campaign period to be in progress, and the N.Z.P.P. database shows it would have had 1,200 members at point.

As this was a first registration, it actually IS possible that N.Z.P.P. did run out of time to submit its registration. Compiling the registration and donation details of the 500 members necessary to complete the Party’s application would be difficult enough, never mind another 700 on top of that. From the first meeting to 15 June, which is when Mr Te Kahika said he would have needed to put the application in the post to ensure it arrived in time is four days.

This said, I expect the public will be demanding to know answers about what is going on. There will now be a lot of public scrutiny on what N.Z.P.P. is doing with its finances. There will be pressure on the Electoral Commission to explain the loop hole in the law. As Parliament has dissolved, the 52nd edition of it will not be able to address the matter should a law change be required. Whoever wins will find themselves under pressure to look at appropriate amendments to the Electoral Finance Act to  ensure that no such loop hole exists.

I cannot pass judgement on whether something illegal has happened, but I think New Zealanders would be alarmed that this has managed to happen. Illegal or not, it does raise some interesting questions about the use of finances around election time.

Why Advance N.Z./N.Z. Public Party are a danger to New Zealand


On Saturday afternoon,hundreds, possibly thousands of people marched into Auckland’s Aotea Square protesting. They were there because two politicians – an elected M.P. and a political wannabe – were going to speak about a perceived assault on New Zealand’s civil society.

New Zealand Public Party and Advance New Zealand are two political parties on the fringe that only formed in the last year. Yet in that time, whereas other parties would have struggled to gain any media traction, the A.N.Z./N.Z.P.P. alliance has become one of the most controversial features of the New Zealand political spectrum. Their message is one of fear: A Communist plot to take over New Zealand led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern; a bioengineered weapon is being spread by the new 5G telecommunications technology. The United Nations wants a New World Order and wealthy people like Bill Gates are trying to develop population control medicines.

Now, that sounds quite quack doesn’t it? I certainly believe it is bat crazy. But these two parties genuinely believe this stuff.

There are several aspects of their conduct that I find extremely thoroughly alarming:

  • Their willingness to spread known lies
  • Their deliberate targeting of vulnerable parts of the community, who have been disenfranchised by the Government in the past
  • Their leaders Jami-Lee Ross (Advance N.Z.) and Billy Te Kahika (N.Z. Public Party) genuinely believe what they are saying
  • They are exploiting the legitimate fear that is generated by the uncertainty of COVID19, the unprecedented safety measures that have had to be rolled out

As Martyn Bradbury notes, there are conspiracies that we should be concerned about. They are beyond the scope of this article, except to say a bioengineered virus being spread by the next generation of telecommunications equipment is not one of them.

Far more dangerous to society is the massive unsustainable consumption of resources that has seen human kind in the 1 minute of geological time it has been on the face of this planet wipe out at least half of the known flora and fauna. That is right. If you condense the entire geological history of planet Earth into a day, human kind has been around roughly one minute and at the current rate of resource consumption, the human race might not get out of this century alive.

Far more dangerous to society is the fact that since the Cold War ended, the Americans and Russians have abandoned nearly all of their nuclear weapon limitation treaties. Defence spending has continued to grow and this year the United States defence budget was U.S.$721.25 billion – about N.Z$1.07 TRILLION. The fact that there are no checks and balances in Pakistan or India to stop an accidental missile launch makes them probably the most dangerous countries in the world with regards to nuclear disarmament.

What is not dangerous to New Zealand society is the honest efforts of experts like Drs Siouxsie Wiles, Ayesha Verrall, Michelle Dickinson and others who have dedicated their professional lives to helping New Zealand understand science in a way that we can make meaningful good from. What is not dangerous is the fact that the New Zealand Government to its massive credit has brought the best knowledge and practitioners of epidemiological science to bear front and centre in our fight against COVID19.

What is not dangerous to society is getting a flu vaccination. There will be a few people who have reactions, but the very vast majority of people will just feel a slightly dead/heavy arm sensation which will go away. Its success in large part stems from the willingness of so many people to get innoculated

Interestingly enough, many of these people are also Donald Trump supporters. They support a United States President whose legacy is likely to be measured in the number of COVID19 body bags that have been used in the last 8 months, and the many thousands more that are likely to be needed in the near future. They support a President whose aim many of my American friends genuinely believe is to start a race war or – worse still – a second American Civil War, by stoking hatred and distrust between black and non-black communities to the point that they start openly fighting each other.

Are these the kind of people you want in New Zealand politics? rabble that incites protests where people genuinely think that the Bill of Rights Act 1990 has been repealed or is going to be repealed. I am an Amnesty International member and Amnesty keeps a close eye on legislation in Parliament. If there were a degree of even vague truth about it, Amnesty would be mobilizing its massive membership to bring to bear pressure that has never been applied in a New Zealand context.

Stop and think about that.