The Jackal: August 2021

29 Aug 2021

Chris Bishop swallows a dead rat

You’ve got to wonder why Chris Bishop decided for a career in politics? It’s obviously not because of some sort of altruistic belief system. After all the former tobacco lobbyist clearly doesn’t give a damn about helping other people to better their lives. Instead, according to his own statements, Bishop is in Parliament to make it more difficult for the current Labour led Government to govern.

Often touted as being an integral member of the National Party's liberal wing, Bishop's most notable transgression was when he got caught using Snapchat to send inappropriate messages to teenage girls. At the time Bishop said he was simply campaigning on behalf of the National Party. But it's doubtful the parents of the numerous girls he contacted would have complained if that were truly the case.

However despite many questions going unanswered during that controversy, it appears Bishop’s position within the blue "team" has in recent weeks become even more tenuous, mainly because he inadvertently undermined the authority of his own ignominious leader, Judith Collins.

Apparently Crusher became furious during a recent meeting because leaked messages revealed Bishop's lack of support for her caucus decision to blanket vote against a bill banning gay conversion therapy...legislation that passed its first reading despite National's chaotic opposition to it. The National Party clearly lost the moral high ground as well as the debate, and Crusher was not pleased that the party's disunity had played out so tragically in the public domain.

On Thursday, the NZ Herald reported:

Knives out in National, as caucus struggles to show unity despite obvious division

Collins was unhappy with the way some MPs had publicly suggested they were less than supportive of the caucus' decision to vote against a ban on conversion therapy.

Collins allegedly unloaded on one of the most high-profile detractors, Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop.

Bishop, along with Nicola Willis and Erica Stanford, is considered a standard-bearer of the caucus' liberal wing.

One source told the Herald that Collins "completely lost it" at Bishop. Another source described her tirade as "f***ing ballistic".

Following the conference, Collins wanted to remind her caucus that becoming a member of Cabinet means swallowing a lot of dead rats. A minister won't always get it their own way, but they have to sell the Cabinet line all the same.

Bishop's great sin on the conversion therapy issue vote was a leaked exchange between himself and a woman, where he revealed he was unhappy with the way the party voted on conversion therapy.

The Herald was told Collins was furious about the way the party's conversion therapy spat had spilled out into the public domain – and one source said it would not be surprising if disciplinary action followed it.


Of course Bishop shouldn’t be considered admirable for his views on gay conversion therapy, because he didn’t actually intend for his lack of conviction to be leaked to the public. Instead, Bishop was happy for voters to believe that his silence showed support for his party’s repressive and thoughtless political direction concerning LGBT matters.

Collins set a low bar for taking disciplinary action against her caucus. Former leader Todd Muller was forced to announce his retirement after being outed for briefing the media.

But unlike Muller, who had already retreated from frontline politics, Bishop is one of National's top performers, and, as Covid-19 spokesperson has done a good job at rebuilding National's tarnished reputation on the most significant political issue of the day.

The problem with Thomas Coughlan’s argument here is that Bishop hasn’t really performed very well at all. In fact he was the ringleader in National’s recent disastrous Twitter misinformation campaign concerning an alleged lack of Covid-19 vaccine booster shots.

Over the last few weeks, National and their propagandists have incorrectly argued ad nauseam that the booster shots weren’t the same Pfizer vaccine formula that’s currently being administered throughout New Zealand and the world, which is entirely wrong and made National look like a bunch of ignorant and unread fools!

On Wednesday, Newshub reported:

Coronavirus: Scientists correct National Party tweet accused of spreading 'misinformation' about COVID-19 vaccines

Alison Campbell, honorary fellow and biological sciences lecturer at the University of Waikato said boosters were a "nudge to remind the immune system about what it's already learned".

"It's an additional dose of an existing vaccine. The pertussis booster I had a couple of years ago would be an example, as is a third dose of the existing Pfizer vaccine. Something that's been reworked to cover additional variants is not."

Newshub has contacted the National Party for a response. At the time of writing on Wednesday morning, the tweet hadn't been removed or corrected. Several Twitter users accused the party of spreading "misinformation". 

Although Bishop's gay conversion therapy debacle was bad, it’s the numerous factually incorrect statements by right-wing politicians and their media lackeys that is likely losing National support at the moment.

The opposition’s failure, along with an effective Covid-19 strategy, has effectively provided Jacinda Ardern with 85% public support for her Government's scientifically based response to the pandemic. This success makes National’s idiotic blunder concerning the 10 million doses of Pfizer vaccine already ordered (including around 3.6 million potential booster shots) even more damaging to Bishop's credibility on all things Covid-19.

This also begs the question, why exactly should the voting public take the National Party seriously when their campaigning is such a complete shambles? I mean how exactly is the National Party going to hold the Government to account when they cannot even get the basic facts about Covid-19 vaccines right?

Despite this incredibly embarrassing brain fart by Chris Bishop, he surprisingly hasn't lost his position as National’s Covid-19 spokesperson. Instead, Crusher took away his portfolio as Shadow Leader of the House, apparently because Michael Woodhouse of all people can do a better job.

Talk about Chris Bishop swallowing a very large dead rat.

It's supposedly not a demotion either, because according to Crusher Collins, her reprimanded MP apparently needs to spend more time on National's Covid-19 campaign, which is clearly thus far only helped to bolster support for the Government's elimination strategy.

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

National Party reshuffle: Judith Collins strips Chris Bishop of key portfolio

Most notably Chris Bishop has lost his Shadow Leader of the House portfolio, a key role that saw him involved in much of the party’s Parliamentary strategy.

Bishop is understood to have pushed for a conscience vote on the gay conversion therapy bill, which National opposed on-bloc at first reading. A private message to a member of the public where Bishop made clear his distaste for this vote was subsequently leaked.

Unfortunately for Bishop, that wasn't the only leak he's had to worry about lately.

If Bishop truly believes that his time is best spent trying to “gum up the works” to stop “the Government from governing” properly during a pandemic, then it’s clear that he’s wasting Parliament’s time as well as his own.

In fact trying to cause administrative problems during a deadly virus outbreak essentially shows that Bishop has absolutely no concern for public safety whatsoever. He is therefore not fit to represent the people of Aotearoa as a Member of our Parliament.

Because making it more difficult for the Government to govern is the exact opposite of what any duly elected official should be doing, particularly during a pandemic that, despite the best efforts of the National Party, New Zealand still has a decent chance of beating.

17 Aug 2021

The US doesn’t need opium from Afghanistan anymore

We should all know by now that Operation Enduring Freedom, which later turned into Operation Freedom's Sentinel, whereby the United States and its misguided allies invaded and occupied Afghanistan for two very long decades, has been a complete failure!

Not only has the US-led invasion of Afghanistan caused the deaths of over 171,000 people, including more than 47,000 civilians, the cost of this unjustified war has also meant a far greater number of innocent people have been displaced or lost their lives through increased disease and starvation. Despite these numbers, the true cost of the United States' unwarranted war on Afghanistan will likely never be fully quantified.

Of course these aren’t things that the current President of the United States dares to mention. Like most Western leaders, Joe Biden has been caught asleep at the wheel and is now scrambling to safeguard his reputation. In effect he has to clean up after former President George W. Bush, who actively lied to facilitate a so-called war on terror, and Donald Trump, who failed to properly negotiate and plan for the safe withdrawal of US and other coalition troops deployed in Afghanistan.

So what has the coalition of the willing actually achieved through this prolonged and bloody conflict? Well firstly much of Afghanistan has been bombed back into the dark ages, which aligns perfectly with the Pentagon's primary objective of stopping Middle Eastern and other Asian continent countries from unifying under Islamic rule.

The US also captured and secured Afghanistan’s opium production for twenty years, which under the occupation once again became the world’s largest supplier. Prior to the 2001 invasion, the Taliban had all but halted Afghani farmers from growing poppies, because they believe opium is un-Islamic.

Of course the propaganda campaign to protect the United States and other coalition countries has never ended. Even now the news reports are rife with claims that only the Taliban are involved in and profiting from the drug trade in Afghanistan.

Yesterday, Reuters reported:

Profits and poppy: Afghanistan's illegal drug trade a boon for Taliban

The United States spent more than $8 billion over 15 years on efforts to deprive the Taliban of their profits from Afghanistan's opium and heroin trade, from poppy eradication to airstrikes and raids on suspected labs.

That strategy failed.

Of course it failed, because it wasn’t the United States’ objective.

The Taliban banned poppy growing in 2000 as they sought international legitimacy, but faced a popular backlash and later mostly changed their stance, according to experts.

Why was a steady supply of opium important to the United States you might ask? Well it’s used to make the highly addictive and deadly drug heroin, which was first introduced into America by the CIA as a way to repress black communities. Then in the 70’s it was extensively used to decimate the anti-war and other resistance movements, which allowed the United States’ war machine to continue destabilising smaller resource rich countries around the world largely unencumbered.

More people now die in the United States from opioid overdoses (69,710 in 2020) than by homicide, which is really saying something when you realise that carrying a gun is a constitutional right in most of their states.

However a new drug has now taken over from heroin as the most deadly. Illicit fentanyl addiction has over the last few years meant that heroin use in the US is declining. Fentanyl is a completely synthetic drug with the ingredients manufactured in China, just like the precursors for methamphetamine.

It’s therefore no coincidence that the US is withdrawing from Afghanistan at the very same time that demand for heroin declines. They simply don’t need Afghanistan's opium anymore, because Fentanyl is proving to be a far more effective drug in their campaign to subdue the masses.

9 Aug 2021

Carter sees the writing on the wall

If there’s one positive thing you could say about the previous John Key led Government, it’s that his MPs generally towed the party line. In fact compared to what’s been happening within the National Party lately, they looked downright disciplined.

However, with Judith Collins at the helm, that’s clearly not the case anymore. Over the last year or so the blue “team” has become splintered into factions and is falling apart. Infighting is obviously a major problem, with Crusher banging heads with anybody who dares to question her authoritah.

It’s a strange dynamic, whereby National MPs who back a leader with very little public support have been handsomely rewarded, while others are ousted or are left to resign in disgust!

Yesterday, 1 News reported:

'No confidence' - David Carter explains exit from National Party

Former long-serving National MP David Carter has quit the party’s board in disgust at the re-election of President Peter Goodfellow.

The National board voted Goodfellow back in this morning, despite loud criticism of his involvement in the selection of some controversial MPs and candidates.

Carter has been on the board for nine months and told 1 NEWS he “hasn’t enjoyed the culture of the board”.  It’s believed he’d stood against Goodfellow.

“I have no confidence in the leadership of Peter Goodfellow,” he said.

“It’d be hypocritical for me to stay on when I have no confidence,” he said in a brutally honest interview with 1 NEWS.

The “inner sanctum” of the board works in a way he disagrees with and he never felt like he received the acceptance he felt he deserved.

In my opinion, Goodfellow should have been fired after it was revealed that he personally selected a Chinese spy to be a National Party MP.

Goodfellow was widely seen as an excellent fundraiser for the party.

But Carter disagrees, telling 1 NEWS while he remains the President, National will struggle to get the donations that it needs.

“Until there’s some change, we won’t have the dollars to win (the next election). National need support from corporate New Zealand and he hasn’t been successful at getting that.”

David Carter isn’t the only one to see the writing on the wall. Indeed, Chris Finlayson also recently left the party with a similar bad taste in his mouth. In fact the former Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations didn’t mince words when he said that the National Party had become a “disaster” under Collins’ so-called leadership.

In June, Stuff reported:

National Party is self-destructing, former minister says

Former National minister Chris Finlayson has lashed the current National Party as a disaster, placing the blame squarely on the leadership – both in Parliament and the wider party organisation.

He says the party leadership “deserve everything that’s come to them” after self-inflicted “brand destruction” over the past couple of years.

The comments will put more pressure on party leader Judith Collins who is already facing internal scrutiny over the resignations of former MP Nick Smith, and the current MP for Bay of Plenty, short-lived party leader Todd Muller. They will also pile pressure on current party President Peter Goodfellow.

Obviously not enough pressure otherwise Goodfellow would be gone by now.


Finlayson, who served as a National Party MP from 2005 to 2019 and held a number of ministerial portfolios, was scathing in his assessment of the current party. Speaking from his law office in Auckland, he said that the party didn’t need a detractor as it was doing well enough destroying itself.

“I don't think I've ever seen, in my life, brand destruction as devastating as that,” he said.

The same month, Stuff reported that Todd Muller was resigning as well:

Todd Muller resignation followed admission about anonymous article

National MP and former leader Todd Muller announced his retirement at the next election after admitting to his party he had been an anonymous source in an article criticising returning MP Harete Hipango.

But it has subsequently emerged that Muller’s resignation followed a late-night admission to his fellow National Party MPs that he had been one of the anonymous sources in a Newsroom article criticising Hipango, who is returning to Parliament following Nick Smith’s resignation.

It’s understood that this made National leader Judith Collins furious, and there was a threat that Muller could be expelled from caucus.

The caucus meeting was sparked by a different story concerning allegations of inappropriate spending by Hipango, which Collins has put down to an innocent “coding error”.

Collins was coy when asked about whether she wanted Muller to resign on Wednesday, saying the decision was not in her hands.

By rewarding a thief while punishing the whistleblower, Collins displayed a level of contempt for her party’s supposed Christian values rarely seen in New Zealand politics.

Crusher was also obviously lying when she claimed that Muller leaving had nothing to do with her. She is after all the National Party's current leader, and has subsequently also barred Muller from even attending caucus meetings.

Although they won’t directly say, Carter, Finlayson and Muller exiting National is all about who’s currently in charge of a party that’s stagnating at around 28% support. And with no end in sight to the backstabbing, there's no sign of their chances at re-election improving either.

Today, Newshub reported:

National Party 'letting it all hang out', losing public faith - political analyst Bryce Edwards

The conference saw the National Party lose another member - former Speaker and Cabinet Minister Sir David Carter - who resigned after challenging the leadership of party president Peter Goodfellow and losing.

"He says 'he's got better things to do with his time, he's not going to waste his time on the Nats', so that's a stinging review of the National Party," Edwards said of Sir David's resignation.

There was also the issue of the National Party voting unanimously against a Bill which will ban conversion therapy, despite MPs saying they support banning the practice.

Dr Edwards acknowledged being in Opposition is difficult for any political party and it can lead to negativity and "finger-pointing".

"It creates its own momentum of disaster - there's leaking to the media, infighting, no one pulls together."

Dr Edwards pointed out other parties disagree and have infighting too - the difference is they keep it under wraps.

"They keep it out of the public arena - National is letting it all hang out and it doesn't give the public much faith."

A political party that was once dominated by alpha males now rewards weak and ineffectual suck-ups who have become nothing more than Judith Collins’ errand boys. 

Take Simeon Brown for instance, who has been promoted well above his station simply because he regurgitates Crusher’s online propaganda without question. Then consider Christopher Bishop, who doesn’t even have the willpower to vote for what he actually believes in anymore.

This doesn’t bode well for the National Party, particularly when Judith Collins is effectively culling her own party of anybody who might have the slightest inclination about challenging her for the leadership position.

Pretty soon Crusher will be seeing allies as enemies and all that will be left of the National Party is a bunch of sycophants who won’t even be able to hold their own party to account, let alone mount any proper opposition to the current Government. And that’s not just a bad thing for National; it’s a bad thing for accountability within other New Zealand political parties as well.

7 Aug 2021

Calling all transphobes

You would likely get a bad case of RSI if you tried to document everything that’s currently going wrong with the National Party. Not only do they seem intent on making fools of themselves just to get media attention, they’re also making a mockery of Parliament to ensure the public is focused on them instead of the things that actually matter.

An example of this occurred yesterday when National’s caucus decided to vote against legislation that would criminalise conversion therapy. Despite a number of National MPs previously saying that they supported such a law, the blue “team” weren’t even allowed a conscience vote on the matter and had to block vote to oppose the bill going to select committee.

In fact during the subsequent debate the National Party looked as foolish as Bomber Bradbury does going on about parents being jailed for five years if they try to pray the gay away.

Yesterday, Newshub reported:

National MPs defend vote against conversion therapy Bill, despite saying they support a ban

Labour MP David Parker says he held out hope National would support a Bill that would ban conversion therapy right up until Thursday's vote.

National was the only party to vote against Justice Minister Kris Faafoi's Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill, which easily passed with support from ACT, the Greens, the Māori Party and Labour, which holds an absolute majority on its own. 

Earlier this year National leader Judith Collins said the party didn't hold a position on conversion therapy, the pseudoscientific practice of changing or suppressing a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Former leader Simon Bridges said in February he was concerned banning it would be an attack on free speech and "cancel culture".

How exactly is a bill that's designed to protect young vulnerable people an attack on free speech? Likewise, how exactly is a law that's designed to safeguard young and mentally impaired people some sort of cancel culture? It seems Bridges is just saying whatever topical words that pop into his head…mainly because National would appear prejudiced and out-dated if they were to provide their actual reasons for opposing this worthwhile legislation.


After Collins looked it up on Google, she came out against it - and the rest of the party fell into line. 

Bridges told The AM Show on Friday they're all for a ban, but won't vote for the current Bill for one reason.

"We support the intent fully, we wish we could get behind it. We have one major concern and by the way Kris Faafoi, the guy behind it, can't and won't explain it at any level. I've looked through the law really closely and it comes down to this - the Bill will criminalise, as it's written, good parents for being parents. 

So it’s a rerun of the propaganda surrounding the anti-smacking legislation, which despite a considerable amount of noise from the deluded right wing hasn’t been criminalising good parents at all. In fact it’s been saving lives, which is what the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill is designed to do as well.

Bridges claiming that the bill will criminalise good parents just goes to show what a complete idiot he is. The legislation specifically states that it’s an offence to perform a conversion practice on someone aged 18 or less or those who lack the mental capacity to make decisions about their own health and wellbeing. It will also be an offence to perform a conversion practice on an individual that causes serious harm. 

Obviously good parents allow their children to self-identify. Similarly, a good parent wouldn't use conversion therapy to cause their child serious harm, so they won't be prosecuted.

Bridges says puberty blockers pose risks parents might not be aware of. 

"The experience offshore - if you take the UK, what the courts over there are now saying are these medical treatments are innovative and experimental and there are long-term risks and consequences. We want a parental exemption, and if we get that actually we will be fully on board."

Clearly parents shouldn't be allowed to use drugs to try and change a persons sexual orientation against their will. Similarly, if a person has decided to use medication to help their body change, then parents shouldn't be allowed to interfere simply because they don't agree with their child's new identity. An exemption here is therefore unwarranted.

Of course deluded parents are often the ones who believe they can convince their children not to self-identify. By wanting an exemption here, the National Party is in effect saying the science is wrong and that people can simply choose not to be gay if their parents are homophobic enough to resort to interfering in a young persons decisions about their own body.

The naysayers to this legislation are relying on the general public having little understanding of what conversion therapy is, or a working understanding of what the new law will mean in practice. They’re also claiming that the Attorney General, Human Rights Commission, Review Tribunal and the Courts of New Zealand will act outside of their remit to facilitate the prosecution of people who don’t deserve it.

National's lack of faith in these institutions is well-documented. However it’s Judith Collins’ association with a number of bigoted dogmatists that should be ringing people’s alarm bells.

Not only did Crusher recently come out in support of antagonist Rachel Stewart when the well-known TERF lost her guns and licence because she’d threatened to kill someone...National’s current leader also utilises the services of Ani O'Brien who is a member of a group ironically calling themselves Speak Up For Women. This hatful organisation often conducts vicious online attacks against transgender people because they oppose gender self-identification.

It would therefore be fair to conclude that National has voted against this legislation not only to placate their puritanical supporters and gain public attention, but also because their leader is trying to score Brownie points with her TERF buddies. God forbid that Crusher actually believes what SUFW stands for, because that should preclude her from ever making any legislative decisions within our halls of power, particularly when we’re talking about legal decisions concerning some of the most vulnerable and persecuted people within our communities. 

6 Aug 2021

National's oily mates love burning coal

You’ve probably noticed the National Party criticising the Labour and Green Coalition Government recently about the amount of coal that’s being imported into New Zealand.

In fact they’ve been incessantly repeating their disapproval about imported coal for well over a year now, which is getting a bit tedious to say the least.

There is however a major problem with National’s recurring coal condemnation, and that is the Government doesn’t actually control the power companies anymore.

That’s because the industry was deregulated and most of the power companies privatised (contrary to what voters wanted) under John Key’s neoliberal Government. So any say the current Government has about what power companies use as fuel is somewhat limited.

It’s no secret that the oil industry prefers there to be a National Party in power, obviously because the right wing is more conducive to facilitating a carbon dependent future. And as I’m sure you’re aware, one of the best ways to initiate a change of Government is to hit voters in the pocket.

There are a number of ways to achieve this, one of them being to manipulate the energy market by limiting the supply of natural gas, which would cause higher generating costs and therefore increased electricity bills for consumers.

In December of last year, RNZ reported:

Problems at offshore fields lead to reduced natural gas production

Gas supplies are set to be reduced because of problems at several of the country's biggest fields.

Contact Energy has been told its allocation of gas from the offshore Maui and Pohokura fields will be cut by 3.7 petajoules (PJ) to 10.6 PJ for next year, down about a quarter on its supply for 2020.

The primary issue appears to be with the Pohokura field where there has been an unexpected and unexplained fall in production.

The field's operator, Austrian-owned OMV, has been investigating why Pohokura's output has fallen as much as 15 percent after maintenance work on several wells earlier in the year.

It’s almost as if someone just turned the gas off for some reason.

In September, the company brought into operation a large compressor to increase production from the field which supplies 40 percent of the country's natural gas.

OMV said it was still looking into the fall in production from offshore wells, but expected tests might provide some causes and possible remedies.

"The production outlook for 2021 remains uncertain and it is too early to indicate the impact of the ongoing well interventions or any future work that may be undertaken in 2021," the company said in a posting on a gas industry website.

OMV said it expected production from Pohokura for next year to be around 39 PJ, which compared with 67.7 PJ produced in the 2019 calendar year.

Unexpected outages of the field in 2019, which reduced gas supplies, were a factor in a major spike in wholesale electricity prices which affected thousands of consumers.

Since then, OMV hasn’t bothered to provide any valid reasons for such a significant drop in production. The Government and public are simply meant to accept these huge reductions from numerous producing natural gas fields without any proper explanation at all.

There’s no question that National is the preferred party of the oil and gas industry, not only because they’re climate change deniers, but also because National would once again allow ocean exploration permits to try and find new oil and gas deposits.

Being that National are close allies with the petrochemical industry, you’ve got to wonder if the unexplained gas shortages are intentional in order to increase power prices and therefore provide the opposition with ammunition against the Government?

It’s certainly a shoe that appears to fit both National and their oily mates perfectly.

5 Aug 2021

National continue climate change denial

It seems somewhat absurd for there still to be climate change deniers around these days. Not only is the world experiencing unprecedented heat waves, droughts, floods and more intense wildfires than ever before, but these extreme weather events have all been categorically linked to climate change by peer-reviewed scientific research.

However it’s even more ludicrous to still have climate change deniers within our political institutions trying to persuade the public that the science isn’t settled on the matter. I am of course talking about New Zealand's Parliament, and the fact that many National Party politicians continue to question the scientific evidence concerning anthropomorphic climate change.

Yesterday, the NZ Herald reported:

'Science of bull****': National MP Stuart Smith alleges climate change cover-up

National Party MP Stuart Smith has described a Government climate change plan as the "science of bull****" during a talk in Ashburton this week.

The Kaikōura MP floated suggestions that warmer temperatures would not cause an increase in extreme rains - contrary to the Government's National Climate Change Risk Assessment (NCCRA) plan.

Smith, who is National's climate change spokesman, confirmed during the meeting that he was making official parliamentary inquiries with Climate Change Minister James Shaw around the legitimacy of the report, sparking several heated reactions from patrons.

In other words, Stuart Smith is wasting Minister Shaw’s time.

Smith said, in light of recent floods in Mid Canterbury, that a Niwa study showed flooding risk would actually fall as the climate got warmer but had been ignored by the NCCRA document.

Stuart Smith really is on a roll lately. Not only is this idiot trying to claim that the recent severe flooding in New Zealand wasn't linked to climate change, he also wants to ban the public sector from using the word Aotearoa. Talk about a Neanderthal!

Often a person being a climate change denier and a racist goes hand in hand. But when we’re talking about duly elected officials, you would expect them to at least have enough intelligence to not express such monumentally stupid opinions in public.

Of course it would be even better if they didn’t hold these terribly out-dated opinions in the first place, because allowing them to cause us any further delay to mitigating climate change, which is what these morons are advocating for, could prove disastrous for the human race.

Therefore listening to these climate change denying fools isn't something anybody in their right mind should be doing. In fact you'd have to be a bit mentally defective to even consider supporting the views expressed by the National Party recently, particularly those concerning climate change.

4 Aug 2021

People could live in those ghost houses, Jacinda Ardern

You can understand why Jacinda Ardern is somewhat hesitant to do more about tackling the housing crisis. After all, making houses affordable would effectively mean that billions of dollars of paper wealth would be wiped from people's books. And with a considerably larger percentage of the voting public owning property compared to those renting, it really just comes down to a numbers game.

It’s also of concern that much of the economic growth we see in New Zealand is because of a white hot housing market, which along with their own personal vested interests, is likely a major reason most politicians aren't interested in implementing any robust policy initiatives that could cool things down.

One of the main drivers of the housing crisis, which economist Bernard Hickey now describes as a catastrophe, is the large amount of dwellings in New Zealand that are empty. The latest census put the figure at 200,000 houses, which is a hell of a lot of property to just leave vacant. So why isn’t the Government doing more to fix this major problem?

On Monday, Newshub reported:

Jacinda Ardern not convinced by 'ghost home' concerns despite data showing 40,000 vacant in Auckland

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is not convinced by "ghost home" concerns despite Census data from 2018 showing nearly 40,000 vacant houses in Auckland. 

At the 2018 census, there were nearly 1.9 million dwellings in New Zealand. Nearly 200,000 of those were unoccupied. The vast majority, 33,360, were in Auckland. The number of vacant homes rose from 6.6 percent in 2013 to 7.3 percent. 

It led Auckland Mayor Phil Goff to explore the idea of filling vacant houses with homeless tenants, or with nurses, police and other essential workers. But nothing concrete came of it. The Māori Party meanwhile campaigned on slapping owners of empty homes with taxes. 

An empty house levy would be one of the best ways to stop the trend of well-to-do people buying up houses that they don't plan to live in. And despite their fears, such a tax isn’t the political death knell that Labour believes it to be.

That’s because the current Government has already upset the landed gentry with their healthy homes standards and other worthwhile housing initiatives. Any further loss of support would therefore be minimal if some substantial policies were enacted to deter people from continuing to bank on investment property, which is one of the main reasons housing has become so unaffordable in New Zealand.

But Ardern, with the ultimate decision-making power, doesn't seem too concerned about it, telling The AM Show on Monday she's spoken with local councils to get an idea of whether these "ghost homes" are contributing to the housing crisis. 

"I've gone to local government and said, 'Can you quantify how many vacant homes we have, do you see this as the issue?' And from the councils' perspective, their view wasn't that we had a large-scale problem with vacant housing." 

Duncan Garner, host of The AM Show, told Ardern the local councils she spoke to are "dreamers", because the data came from the official Census. 

"The Census isn't able to then quantify whether or not, for instance, that's someone who's genuinely not consistently using the home," Ardern responded. "We have asked that question of those who are most able to tell us."

Ardern said councils aren't the only ones looking into the issue. She said consultancy business The People Place has also looked into whether ghost homes are contributing to the housing crisis in Hamilton. 

"From their perspectives, they haven't viewed that as being a major contributing factor. However, we've continued to ask those who would know."

The Prime Minister is entirely wrong here. Firstly, a Human Relations firm from Parnell aren't the people to decide if there's a problem with vacant houses in Hamilton. Furthermore, when a census is taken, a property can be visited numerous times to determine whether it’s inhabited. The census is also the only data available, so it should therefore be relied on.

Jacinda Ardern is basically saying that the census takers don’t know how to tell if a house is empty or not, which would pour cold water on the entire census process and therefore all the Government decisions based from it.

"The second question becomes, OK, if people have got vacant houses, what do you then do? So Duncan, what are you proposing, that we tell people they can't own a second home and then not use it?" Ardern said. 

Garner said as Prime Minister, she should have the solutions, not him. 

"It is a fair question to say, if we think we identify that someone holds a second property that they are not utilising regularly, what do you then do?" Ardern said. 

"At that point, the only solutions you see in other countries is that they put in tax disincentives. I want to know that that is genuinely a contributing factor before we would consider some of those options, and at the moment, when we've gone to those who may know, they've said that they don't believe that that's been the largest factor for them.

"In fact, I remember when I asked that question of local government, they said, 'Actually, we think issues like covenants are more of an issue for us locally than people sitting on vacant properties'."

The Prime Minister dismissing census data in favour of anecdotal evidence from councils, who have a financial incentive to keep the housing crisis going, is all about the political ramifications of implementing a tax on empty houses. It has nothing to do with doing what is best for New Zealand, and everything to do with Labour choosing to placate wealthy homeowners to ensure their re-election.

Unfortunately Ardern displayed a similar biased approach in the lead up to the cannabis and euthanasia referendums. On one hand she openly supported people being able to choose to end their own life, but on the other she wouldn’t even let the public know which way she was going to vote on legalising cannabis, just in case it influenced that referendums outcome.

This had nothing to do with pragmatism and everything to do with political expediency. 

Of course the current Government is removing hurdles to ensure developers can build more houses. They’ve also directly or been financially involved in assisting around 9117 new public houses to be built since June 2018. But this will only maintain the status quo and in no way put any downward pressure on house prices in New Zealand, which will likely continue to be the most unaffordable in the developed world even with a left-wing Government in power.

3 Aug 2021

Racist party wants to ban Maori word

When John Key decided to have a referendum to change our nations flag, which cost the taxpayer well in excess of $26 million, it was widely criticised as a complete waste of money, not only by the left, but also by patriots right across New Zealand.

You would therefore hope that the National Party would have learnt a valuable lesson from that debacle and consequently not propose any further silly changes that don’t align with public sentiment.

However it appears that National, under the terribly misguided leadership of Judith Collins, hasn’t learnt a damn thing.

Today, Newsroom reported:

National MP floats ban on public sector using ‘Aotearoa’

National MP Stuart Smith has found himself advocating a crackdown on public sector use of te reo in a war on a phantom name change, Marc Daalder writes

Analysis: New Zealand's sleek black passports could undergo a revamp to remove the prominent placement of the word 'Aotearoa' - if National Party MP Stuart Smith had his way.

The proposal to prohibit government departments from using 'Aotearoa' in any context is the latest development in Smith's bizarre attack on changing the name of New Zealand to Aotearoa or Aotearoa New Zealand. This is a war against a phantom enemy, however, as the Government says it has no plans to formally change the name of the country, and the use of Aotearoa by the public sector long predates the Labour government.

This is perhaps the dumbest proposal ever to be made by the National Party, which is really saying something when you consider that the blue “team” recently advocated for higher unemployment just to keep wages low.

This deferral to a Trumpian "some people are saying" excuse was repeated by National Party Leader Judith Collins.

"If you look at most of the government agencies, they're now changing it. The Prime Minister changes the way she talks about - you barely ever hear her talk about New Zealand these days," she said.

"I think it is becoming [an official change], that's what people are saying."

You can kind of understand why Crusher might feel the need to compete for the racist vote, being that Act Party leader David Seymour is now a more preferred Prime Minister than she is, even amongst National Party supporters.

Even so, proposing a costly referendum to ban the word Aotearoa is incredibly ignorant, especially when you consider the numerous benefits New Zealand attains from using Te reo Māori. This isn't just an advantage in terms of our own identity as a South Pacific nation, it's also a boon on the world stage as something that sets us apart because of its uniqueness.

When asked about Smith's proposal on Tuesday, ACT Party Leader David Seymour - who now enjoys more personal support among prospective National voters than Collins herself - hit the nail on the head.

"Look, I just think, ultimately, Stuart Smith needs to focus on bigger issues," he said.

Seymour better be careful. He wouldn’t want to ruffle the feathers of his racist supporters again. Many of them couldn't handle the Act Party leader even mentioning the word Aotearoa when the far right party ran a thoughtless "Make Aotearoa Great Again" campaign just before Waitangi Day. In fact Seymour's white supremacist supporters completely spat the dummy about it.

What we don’t need in Aotearoa New Zealand however is another competition between Act and National to see whose the most bigoted, which would again be an unwise attempt to normalise racism within our political discourse.

Because not only is it damaging to our own psyche as a highly diverse and multicultural nation, it would also damage our international reputation as well…and that’s not something any Kiwi, no matter what their skin colour, should be supporting.

2 Aug 2021

Mass vaccination event wasn’t a shambles

If you were a food critic, would you give a restaurant a bad review before you’d even tasted a single bite of their food? Similarly, if you were a referee, would you call a game before it had even begun? Of course you wouldn’t, because that would be an utterly unfair and highly unprofessional thing to do.

However that’s exactly what the National Party and many mainstream media outlets have been doing lately. A good example of this took place last week, when National decided that the mass vaccination event which was being held at the Vodafone Events Centre over the weekend was going to be a failure even before a single vaccine dose had been administered.

On Wednesday, the National Party reported:

Government’s Vaccine Rollout A Shambles

The Government’s excruciatingly slow and chaotic vaccine rollout shows it has no idea how to get the lifesaving vaccine to New Zealanders, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“And this weekend’s mass vaccination event is indicative of just how much of a debacle the Government’s rollout has been.

“Their bright idea was to bus vulnerable people in South Auckland to the events centre in Manukau to get the jab.

“It’s no surprise the initial take up was so pathetic that the invitation had to be extended beyond the target group to get the numbers up.

These accusations were of course entirely premature, being that the National Party’s press release was made two days before the vaccination event was even due to start.

It’s really no surprise that Crusher has yet again been proven wrong! In fact she pretty much has egg perpetually on her face these days.

Despite the National Party trying to deter people from getting a jab by saying the event was going to be a shambles, the mass vaccination event has by all accounts been a resounding success.

Today, RNZ reported:

Mass vaccination event hailed as 'huge success' by organisers

A three-day mass vaccination event wrapped up in South Auckland last night with more than 15,500 people given their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

More than 5600 got inoculated on Sunday - the last day of the event - at the Vodafone Events Centre in Manukau. Organisers are calling it an "overwhelming success" and feedback from those getting the jab has been mostly positive.

People registered at the nearby Manukau Institute of Technology before hopping on a bus which took them to the events centre, then brought them back after their vaccination.

Amanda Maplesden spoke to RNZ as she waited for a ride back to the campus.

"It's been very efficient and everyone is very nice and it's yeah totally impressive... We now feel like Covid's actually starting to not rule our lives anymore," she said.

Such is their desperation to become politically relevant again that Judith Collins was spitting venom at problems that only exist in her befuddled imagination. In fact it’s almost as if the National Party wants New Zealand to fail in its fight against Covid-19 just so they can claim that their response to the pandemic would’ve been better.

Of course it wouldn’t have been, because opening up our borders as National wanted to do even before a vaccine was properly developed would have been a complete disaster!

This hit and miss approach to politics is one of the reasons why the blue “team” continues to poll so badly. Because when all you’ve got is fake news that even a five year old can see through, no amount of spin can repair the damage done to Crusher’s credibility…not even when a biased mainstream media is invariably entirely on the right-wings side.

Collins is crushing her own credibility

Even before Judith Collins became overlord of the National Party, you could tell there was a huge ideological divide between her questionable values and those of the party’s former leaders. And just over a year after becoming the opposition's de facto leader, that chasm between Crusher and what her party once stood for couldn’t be more apparent.

Under her misguided leadership, the National Party have not only been campaigning against policy that they themselves enacted while in power, they're also criticising law and order initiatives that Judith Collins had implemented when she was a Cabinet Minister of John Key's neoliberal Government.

It’s an unprecedented political situation that senior political reporter David Fisher delves into with some much-needed insight and detail.

On Friday, the (pay-walled) NZ Herald reported:

National's new tough on crime campaign uses bad data, cherry-picked stats and attacks a justice scheme Judith Collins helped set up

A new social media campaign by the National Party on law and order has criticised a strategy aimed at curbing crime that was set up when Judith Collins was a Cabinet minister overseeing it.

The criticism is based on linking Labour Party policies to a quote from police stating "arrest is now the exception" that fails to explain the comment was made in relation to some low-level offending that goes before iwi community panels. 

Collins, the National Party leader whose image fronts the social media campaign, was Minister of Police in 2010, then Minister of Justice in 2014, when her officials began an evaluation of the programme.

The evaluation was reported back in 2016, when Collins was again Minister of Police, and has since been rolled out across the country.

This is a shocking indictment of just how ideologically blind the blue "team" has become.

Not only is National ignoring irrefutable evidence with their unrelenting tough on crime dogma, they're also attacking law and order policies that Crusher Collins had previously authorised in her capacity as a Minister of the Crown.

But that’s not the only thing the National Party are getting entirely wrong in their fervour to remain politically relevant. They’re also completely disregarding what the New Zealand Police are saying concerning changes to reported crime statistics. 

Analysis of other areas targeted in National's social media post - increased victimisation and claims of gang numbers increase - appeared to show selective use of data or a reliance on discredited data.

On gang numbers, this and other social media posts had seen National push the claim gang numbers had increased despite police saying the data could not be used to show actual numbers of gang members.

An interview request to Collins on the claims in the social media campaign resulted in a statement - from her office - attributed to the party's police spokesman Simeon Brown.

The list was started in 2016 as an intelligence tool to monitor those in or associated with gangs and had been added to as police awareness grew. The number of people on the list had gone from 5343 in 2016 to 8061 last month.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says the National Gang List does not provide statistical insight into gang numbers.

The growth in numbers largely reflected increasing awareness by police of those with gang links. It also showed - as Commissioner Andrew Coster had acknowledged - how difficult it was to be removed from the list when an association with a gang ended, including through death.

However instead of believing the Police Commissioner like normal grownups, the National Party is busy intentionally burying their heads in the sand and trying to make mountains out of molehills. They are in effect increasing the anxiety already felt about crime within our communities, which isn’t just a socially foolish thing for elected officials to do; it’s morally reprehensible as well.

On victimisations, Brown provided data showing serious assault resulting in injury had doubled under the current government from 10,679 in 2017 to 21,344 in 2020.

It was an increase police had previously linked to new family violence offences introduced in December 2018 that "resulted in police recognising and recording these more serious offences".

"It has also resulted in the realignment of some domestic common assaults into these new offences."

The new offences came in under the Family Violence Act which was originally introduced to Parliament under the National government as the Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill.

Data shows the number of incidents in which people have been affected by crime to be stable around 265,000 victimisation.

It would be good to see the National Party actually holding the Government to account with some valid arguments for a change instead of crying wolf all the time. Because without a properly functioning opposition that isn’t hell bent on fomenting fear just to get attention, we cannot hope to tackle the more pressing issues that need to be addressed in New Zealand.