Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The story of the ‘far-right takeover of New Zealand’

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The story of the ‘far-right takeover of New Zealand’

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The story of the ‘far-right takeover of New Zealand’

Dr Bryce Edwards.

Political analysts are still trying to work out what the new Labour-led government means for New Zealand. There are a variety of different views on the ideological nature of the new administration, especially because it involves three very interesting political parties, all of which have recently been in a state of flux. 

New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

On Thursday, a highly controversial analysis of where this government is going was published, claiming that the new coalition government might appear to be progressive but is actually controlled by the far-right – by which the writer meant the New Zealand First party. The piece gained particular notoriety because it was published by the Washington Post – see: How the far right is poisoning New Zealand.

Author Ben Mack writes: “while Ardern may be the public face, it’s the far right pulling the strings and continuing to hold the nation hostage. What’s happened in New Zealand isn’t just horrifying because of the long-term implications of hate-mongers controlling the country, but also because it represents a blueprint that the far right can follow to seize power elsewhere. Appealing to ethnically homogenous, overwhelmingly cisgender male voters with limited education and economic prospects who feel they’re being left behind in a changing world is nothing new for the far right. But what is new is its savvy at exploiting democracy by doubling down on these voters”.

The article concludes by calling for Labour to dissolve the government: “it would be best for Ardern to end her unholy alliance with New Zealand First and the far right, even if it meant she might not return as prime minister. As long as the far right has power, bigotry and hate will continue to fester in Middle-earth.”

For more on Mack’s view of Peters see the recent Herald column As an immigrant, I’m terrified of Winston Peters.

The dismayed reaction in New Zealand

After being painted as a far-right villain, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters hit back on TVNZ1’s Breakfast yesterday: “Can I just say, I’m writing to the Washington Post to suggest that someone’s escaped from a lunatic asylum about 2.30 in the morning and writing an article in the name of that person, because no sound, sane person could have written that malicious, totally false statement” – see: Winston Peters launches scathing attack on article that called NZ First a far-right party poisoning New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was apparently more diplomatic, laughing off the report: “I’d suggest that the Washington Post probably hasn’t interviewed anyone from New Zealand First, or potentially even a voter, before making those assumptions”.

On social media, the reaction has been ferocious, scorning the writer’s understanding of New Zealand, and asking what on earth the Washington Post was playing at publishing the piece. For example, @NZleftrightout said “I’ve never written anything longer than a tweet, but i now believe I could get insanely drunk & write for the @washingtonpost on NZ politics. #nzpol #thisisreallybad”. For more, see my blog post, Top tweets about the Washington Post article on NZ politics.

Duncan Greive ridicules the article on The Spinoff: “New Zealand has been living a lie”, and “It would be easy to brush this off as scaremongering, or a shockingly ill-informed column which mischaracterises everything it touches on. This is exactly what the far right wants you to do” – see: The shocking truth: Washington Post reveals the ‘far right agenda’ of the new Labour-led government.

And today David Slack also mocks the Washington Post piece – see: That’s not a tiki torch, it’s a tiki.

Fact checking the “fake news” 

There has been widespread astonishment that any newspaper, let alone the fabled Washington Post, would publish such a bizarre and inaccurate article. Media commentator John Drinnan blogged to say “the lack of fact checks raises questions about how much the paper that broke Watergate cares about its reputation” – see: Muddled facts on Middle Earth.

Similarly, former Reserve Bank economist Michael Reddell, exclaimed, “how one of the world’s major media outlets, and serious newspapers, fell for this nonsense is a rather bigger puzzle. It might be the age of ‘fake news’, but generally serious newspapers are supposed to be guardians against it, not the purveyors of nonsense to the world” – see his blog post, The Washington Post falls for Ben Mack.

Reddell is one of many bloggers who have valiantly attempted to “fact check” the Washington Post story. He focused in particular on Mack’s arguments that New Zealand First has pushed the new government to implement immigration cuts, and the ban on foreign house buyers: “New Zealand First didn’t get any of its immigration policies (such as they were) adopted at all. The new government says it is adopting the centre-left Labour Party’s policy. And that ban on foreign purchases, well it was supported – going into the election –  by all three parties in the government, including the rather left-wing Greens.”

On New Zealand First’s orientation to race issues, Reddell correctly points out that “like them or not, New Zealand First gets a larger share of its votes from Maori than many other parties. In fact, Peters himself is Maori.”

For other fact checking, see Michael Daly’s Washington Post contributor says in NZ ‘real power lies with the far right’, Pete George’s Out of whack Mack on the ‘far right’, and Emma Gorowski’s No, the Far Right is not holding power in New Zealand.

RNZ’s Tim Watkin got the Washington Post to publish his own rebuttal to Mack’s piece – see his excellent response: No, New Zealand is not in the ‘poisonous grip’ of the far right.

Here’s Watkin’s core point about New Zealand First: “no one with any political sense would call the party ‘far right.’ Indeed, many of its economic policies are quite interventionist and arguably its most surprising win in coalition talks was to get the minimum wage increased to $20 per hour by 2020. More importantly, it’s simply incorrect to say Peters and his party have ‘seized power’. The fact is that New Zealand First won very little in its coalition negotiations with the main parties.”

He concludes: “So rest assured Post readers. New Zealand remains a liberal democracy. If we are stuck with those Middle earth analogies, let’s just say that the orcs remain far from the levers of power.”

How could someone get it so wrong?

So, who is the writer of the Washington Post article? Ben Mack is an American who moved to New Zealand a few years ago, and trained in journalism at the University of Canterbury. Mack’s university profile states, “Since graduating, Ben has gone on to a variety of other writing roles, including with Idealog Magazine, feminist blog Villainesse, and the New Zealand Herald”. Mack’s main role at the moment seems to be running Lizzie Marvelly’s Villainesse blog site, which describes itself as “No filter, no bullshit media for young women” and has written extensively on gender issues, including a personal account of gender identity in this New Zealand Herald column: Misgendering in New Zealand.

Mack is quoted saying “I love journalism because of the importance of fighting for positive change, holding power to account, and empowering communities and marginalised people.” And this is the key to understanding where the journalist is coming from: socially liberal, politically passionate and wanting to change the world for the better. For a sense of Mack’s political worldview it’s also worth reading the recent Herald column, Jacinda Ardern won’t change a thing, in which they outline “the problems of misogyny, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, xenophobia, bigotry, hatred and systematic oppression” in New Zealand.

Martyn Bradbury blogs about Mack’s identity politics lens, joking that “In the radical fringe world of Twitter Identity Politics, binary gender and immigration controls are hate crimes, militant veganism is the only dietary option, polyamorous coupling is the only ethical sex and masculinity is a disease ranked somewhere between cancer and ebola” – see: What Duncan Greive misses and why Ben Mack is National’s best chance of winning 2020.

This view of the world is one in which social conservatives are the biggest enemy of the oppressed and marginalised. Economic oppression is less of a focus than oppression on the basis of ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation.

Bradbury suggests that the leftwing programme of the new government is easily overlooked if the focus is on social conservativism: “For the Ben Mack’s of NZ, paid parental leave, free education and 100 000 more new houses are pitiful facades that hides the new Government’s true hatred of immigrants.”

Coming from a similar perspective, one blog commenter at The Standard, says that Mack “provides us all a glimpse into the liberal identity politics mindset of the US culture wars. it is a pretty bleak, polarised and hysterical place replicated in kind from the right” – see: Can Ben Mack please make his mind up.

In this sense, liberals who are horrified at Winston Peters having political power are akin to those in Labour who tried to have Willie Jackson ejected from their party because of his “toxic” views – see my column from earlier in the year: The liberal vs left divide over Willie Jackson.

And a similar notion was advanced by the Greens a few months ago, when then co-leader Metiria Turei went on a campaign against what she called Winston Peters’ racism – see my column from the time: Green anxiety about being locked out of government.

This discussion of racism led to a number of commentators pointing out how toxic they think Peters is. For example, see Hayden Donnell’s Revealed: Winston Peters has never had a racist approach to anything. Such a blog post could be even used as a defence of Ben Mack’s article.

Similarly, other New Zealand politicians from across the political spectrum have been charged with having reactionary views. For an examination of this, see Tess McClure’s For the Record: What Have NZ Politicians Done For Race Relations?

Finally, for a much more robust examination of the reality of the far right in this country, it’s well worth reading the recent investigative report by the Herald’s Kirsty Johnston – see: How NZ’s growing alt-right movement plans to influence the election.

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Has Jacinda Ardern failed her first international test of leadership?

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Has Jacinda Ardern failed her first international test of leadership?

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Has Jacinda Ardern failed her first international test of leadership?

Dr Bryce Edwards.

Is our new government doing enough about the Manus refugee crisis? Well, it’s hardly doing anything. Instead of putting pressure on the Australian Government to allow New Zealand to take refugees from Manus Island, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern seems to have capitulated entirely to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the issue. 

Former Labour Party leader Andrew Little has said the New Zealand Government needs to “cause international embarrassment” to Australia for not accepting New Zealand’s offer.

Little says “This is a time to step up and say, in an age of world-wide humanitarian crises, one that is on our doorstep, one that involves our nearest neighbour physically and diplomatically then we need to be applying a bit of a stiff arm on it and say, ‘we can help’.” Similarly, James Shaw has said the New Zealand Government has “a lack of spine” in dealing with the refugee crisis.

But that was then, and now Labour is leading the government. Ardern seems determined to do the opposite of what her colleagues were strongly advocating for a year ago. Instead of openly criticising and pressuring the Australian government over the humanitarian crisis they have caused at Manus Island, Ardern has mostly been running Malcolm Turnbull’s arguments for him in the New Zealand media.

New Zealand won’t call out Australia over the refugee crisis

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, was officially sworn in on October 26 2017 by the Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy.

Jacinda Ardern has embarrassed herself by being too meek with the Australian Government, according to political commentator John Armstrong – see his column: Jacinda Ardern will find ‘doing the right thing’ gets harder the longer she’s PM.

Armstrong says Ardern needs to “slam” the Australians’ for their “morally bankrupt treatment of the Manus Island refugees”. He criticises her for “meekly saying that New Zealand was in the ‘lucky position’ of not having to struggle with the refugee issue, unlike Australia. Arden will have to do better than that. She can do better than that.”

Instead, the Prime Minister has returned to New Zealand from her meeting with Turnbull, and has been parroting his lines about the need to deal with the so-called “people smugglers”, and how the US first needs to take its agreed number of refugees before New Zealand gets involved.

She told RNZ today, “I have to accept that Prime Minister Turnbull is prioritising the agreement that substantially resolves the issue at this point.” And in terms of people smugglers, she said “I agree that those who are the instigators of trying to exploit people’s fear and vulnerability by encouraging them to take to the seas should be prosecuted and should be pursued” – see: PM says she’ll keep tabs on Manus Island.

The problem is Turnbull has essentially told Ardern that, in terms of the current crisis at least, Australia retains the right to decide New Zealand’s refugee policy on who is accepted into the country. And she has simply agreed to this.

Ardern could be accused of failing her first test on the world stage – one in which she could have made a real difference. Claire Trevett reports the advice of the lawyer for the Manus Island refugees, Greg Barns, who argues this crisis “provided Ardern with a chance to stamp her mark” – see: Manus could be PM Jacinda Ardern’s ‘Tampa moment’: Australian lawyer.

Barns is quoted as saying “Helen Clark did the right thing and it would be great if Jacinda Ardern did the same. It’s a chance for New Zealand to show moral leadership, which Australia has lacked now for 20 years.”

New Zealand has been fobbed off

Some journalists are suggesting Jacinda Ardern made progress in getting the Australian Prime Minister to take New Zealand’s offer of accepting refugees more seriously. Tracy Watkins says that “Replacing a flat ‘no’ with ‘maybe later’ is a clear – if subtle – softening of the earlier rejections of the New Zealand offer” – see: Turnbull’s warm welcome for Ardern underscores continuity in trans-Tasman relations.

Another perspective is that Turnbull has simply become more diplomatic in his rejection of help from New Zealand. After all, he is now under huge pressure, with the UN condemning the situation, and even his own former Minister of Immigration, Kevin Andrews, breaking ranks to say that the Australian Government needs to more seriously consider the offer. And furthermore, the bi-partisan consensus has also broken down, with the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, also calling for the government to let the refugees go to New Zealand.

With such intense pressure to yield to New Zealand, Turnbull’s change in language was really the bare minimum of what he needed to do, while at the same time not changing his actions. As Claire Trevett writes, “it was effectively a No Delayed” – see: Key bromance haunts Jacinda Ardern’s first Australia visit.

Australia continues to justify declining New Zealand’s offer to take refugees on the basis that the US has previously agreed to take 1,250 and therefore Turnbull wants to negotiate this first before considering New Zealand’s offer. Ardern therefore suggests that New Zealand’s offer is under “active consideration” by Australia, and she has been quoted as saying “I absolutely understand the priority that has been placed around the agreement with the United States” – see Michael McGowan’s report, Turnbull says he will consider NZ refugee deal only after US resettlements.

But according to Manus refugee Behrouz Boochani, the US agreement shouldn’t be believed: “They announced the deal a year ago but only 25 people sent to America. They are only playing with us and media, it’s a fake deal to waste time” – see Newshub’s US deal a lie, choose NZ – Manus refugee.

Similarly, Gordon Campbell suggests negotiations with the US will take a very long time, and therefore concludes that “Sooner rather than later, New Zealand has to stand up to Australia over its refugee policy. Otherwise, our silence and inaction will be taken as tacit acceptance, and we will be seen (accurately) as enabling Canberra’s systematically inhuman treatment of hundreds of the world’s most vulnerable people, and their families. The clock is now ticking on Ardern’s personal timetable” – see: On Ardern’s refugee non-deal.

Doing nothing of any substance about the crisis raises questions about whether the new Labour-led coalition government is complicit in Australia’s abusive operations. New Green MP – and former refugee – Golriz Ghahraman has been outspoken about the issue, being reported as saying “New Zealand’s silence has made it complicit in human rights abuse in Australian offshore detention” – see RNZ’s MP calls NZ’s Manus Island silence ‘complicity’.

And blogger David Farrar says this criticism could equally be applied to her own government – see: Is a Green MP calling Labour complicit in human rights violations?

New Zealand won’t take the refugees directly from Manus Island

Many are now suggesting that because Australia has abandoned the refugees, the New Zealand government should be able to simply rescue them without getting Australia’s prior approval. This is best expressed by Brian Rudman in his column, Time for a little gunboat diplomacy. He says, “It’s time to shame our Australian cousins by dispatching a naval vessel to Manus Island to rescue the 600 or so refugees trapped on Australia’s very own Devil’s Island.”

But Jacinda Ardern ruled this out today, because of New Zealand’s formal offer to the Australians: “No, no, because the offer is still under active consideration by Australia so there is no need to do so” – see Jane Patterson’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won’t bypass Australia over Manus.

On this, Gordon Campbell says: “For her part, Ardern has chosen not to confront Australia and has agreed to delay making the NZ resettlement offer directly to Papua New Guinea. Given the glacial pace of the US response, and the urgency of the humanitarian crisis on Manus, there is no justification for not proceeding with an approach to PNG right now.”

It also has to be pointed out that the current offer to Australia isn’t particularly radical, given the circumstances. Lawyer Felix Geiringer‏ (@BarristerNZ) has tweeted: “There is a humanitarian crises happening on our doorstep. It is time for more drastic action. Merely repeating John Key’s offer is not enough.” For other examples of social media reaction, see my blog post, Top tweets about the Australia-Manus-NZ situation.

Leftwing blogger Daphna Whitmore also points out that the current offer really isn’t generous: “It is the smallest of gestures from a country that does very little to extend a welcome to refugees. There are over 22 million refugees in the world and New Zealand is ranked at the bottom of the developed world when it comes taking refugees. Overall New Zealand is 110th in the world for refugees per capita adjusted for GDP. The offer to take 150 refugees is not in addition to the modest annual 1000 refugee intake. Ardern, like Key before her, made it clear this to be within the quota” – see: Manus Island: “It’s f******* disgraceful”.

RadioLive talkback host Alison Mau is advocating that New Zealand take all of the Manus Island refugees, saying “I can’t think of a nobler, more important contribution for our Prime Minister to make as her first political legacy, something that would be remembered as a source of pride for generations to come” – see: Tampa rescue is point of pride – but we’re too gutless to do it again.

Finally, for the brave speech that the New Zealand Prime Minister should have made if she wanted to truly make a principled stand in the weekend, see Toby Manhire’s Hey mate, this Manus thing’s got to stop. It includes the line: “Talk is cheap, I get that, and my government will be judged on the extent to which it all adds up to more than warm fuzziness.”

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The Coalition’s very clever ban on foreign house sales

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The Coalition’s very clever ban on foreign house sales

Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: The Coalition’s very clever ban on foreign house sales

Dr Bryce Edwards.

The new coalition government looks set to record a big political win with its very clever plan to ban house sales to foreigners. Previously Labour’s policy of banning foreigners from buying houses in New Zealand had appeared to be a difficult promise to achieve – mainly because of the government’s responsibilities under existing and upcoming trade deals.

The main problem was with the looming Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, which Labour may well sign New Zealand up to. But it now seems that the coalition government can avert any conflict between the ban and the trade deal, simply by introducing the ban before the TPP is signed and implemented. Patrick Gower explains it like this: “Ardern has got into power, asked the officials and they have come up with a very simple ‘hack’ – bring in the ban before the trade deal is signed off. If this is true, it was a damn easy fix” – see: Jacinda Ardern goes for 2-for-1 ban and TPP deal.

What will the foreign buyer ban achieve?

Auckland housing market.

Obviously the intention of the ban is to reduce competition for buying houses, therefore limiting price increases. But will this really work?

Not according to former National staffer Gwynn Compton, who says the effect of the ban will be “None. Zilch. Nada” – see: The pointlessness of a foreign buyer ban. He says “Australia implemented the same thing in December 2008 it had no impact there either. In fact, much like New Zealand’s prices, house prices in Sydney and Melbourne have nearly doubled since 2008.”

Referring to the fact that foreigners will still be allowed to buy new houses, Compton says that the only impact of the new rules will be to shift “the two or three per cent of property investment that comes from overseas from existing homes to new builds instead. The small resulting increase in prices there pushes citizens and residents back into the existing home market, and thus increases competition there by the same amount. The overall result? You’re no better off than you were before, unless you’re a property developer.”

Property Institute CEO Ashley Church also emphasises that the main impact will be to push investment towards new builds. He was quoted on TVNZ Breakfast saying, “It’s not a ban, it’s a redirection of investment… Foreign investors who want to invest in New Zealand residential property they can still do so, but they’ve got to invest it in the construction of new buildings. That’s a good thing for the economy, with 40,000 houses in Auckland required almost straight away” – see: Foreign buyer ban ‘more symbolic’, effect on first home buyers ‘almost none’, says Property Institute CEO.

Real estate agents also think the ban will have little impact on their business – see Adriana Weber’s Foreign home-buyer ban: will it make any difference? The same article cites economist Gareth Kiernan saying that “many foreigners had already been squeezed out of the market by the banks toughening up restrictions on foreign investors.”

Kiernan is also quoted on the slowdown of overseas investment in housing in Susan Edmunds’ article, Foreign buyer ban will affect small proportion of property sales. He says “the major banks have stopped approving mortgages based on overseas income” and the “Chinese government has also tightened the restrictions around the ability of Chinese nationals to move money out of China”.

In the same article BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander warns “we don’t know to what extent buyers will find ways around the rules, such as getting friends and relations already here to purchase on their behalf, as has apparently been happening in the Asian communities, according to anecdotes”.

The foreign buyer ban is politically powerful

David Parker, New Zealand’s Minister for Economic Development, Minister for the Environment, Minister for Trade and Export Growth, and Attorney-General.

The coalition government has stepped back from suggesting that the change will make a huge difference to housing affordability. Instead, David Parker is emphasising that the ban is an “important point of principle” – see Laura Walters’ How much of a difference will the foreign house buyers ban make?

Parker has been focusing on the more ideological aspect of how the ban fits into the fight against inequality, saying the ban is aimed at the rich elite and will affect the “one per cent” – see Sarah Robson’s Foreign home buyers to be banned – PM. Parker explains: “Just about everyone who buys who’s a foreign person buying into New Zealand – they’re a very very wealthy ‘1 percenter’… And I think that’s one of the excesses of global capital, when you allow those sorts of interests to influence your housing market.”

Therefore, this big first move of the coalition government can be seen as symbolically very important. And that’s what Patrick Gower argued this morning, saying “It sends the symbol that this Government is different to the last one, on housing in particular” – see Newshub’s Labour’s foreign housing ban ‘symbolism’ – Patrick Gower. And he says it will be politically powerful: “Gower argued the ban is supported by two-thirds of the public, and the Government will get credit from voters for instituting it.”

An even more sceptical view is that this big announcement can be seen as a sop to leftwing coalition supporters who are soon going to have to accept the Government signing up to the TPP. This is the argument made by Rob Hosking in the NBR: “So this week’s announcement was part distortion – the foreign buyers announcement is good crowd-pleasing stuff but it won’t mean much at this point in the housing cycle – and part the start of a softening process” – see: Ardern drops ‘sovereignty’ concerns over TPP (paywalled).

To go even further, here’s Mike Hosking’s view that the housing buying ban is entirely pragmatic: “This so-called ban is window dressing, it’s xenophobic, made-up political bollocks for expediency purposes and nothing else. It’s the move you make to make you look like you’re doing something, when in reality it’s for headlines and coalition promises – not for any real effect. It’s the work of inexperienced amateurs” – see: Foreign house buyer ban ‘xenophobic bollocks’.

Labour’s beef with National

Patrick Gower says this could be a big win for the prime minister, and predicts “It will be extremely embarrassing for National, if she pulls this off, as it said it could never be done.” And National’s prior role in trying to prevent Labour from achieving a ban is now in the spotlight.

Ardern herself has come out and criticised the former National Government, saying that it now seems they didn’t even ask their officials for advice on whether a ban on foreigners buying houses was possible. Some speculate that National actually went out of their way to “wedge” Labour on the issue.

Vernon Small explains that when the former government was negotiating the TPP, it deliberately chose not to include the possibility for a future government to implement a foreigner ban on house buying. He asks: “Was National’s decision to exclude a ban on foreign buyers of Kiwi homes from free trade deals a poison pill left for Labour to swallow?” – see: Foreign buyers ban in, Labour points finger at Nats for ‘misleading’ over free trade clash.

Small reports that “there has been speculation that former prime minister John Key and his team were explicit – leave it out. If they were so weasel-cunning it’s easy to see how the logic would flow; create an irreconcilable clash between Labour’s policy on foreign house buyers and the TPP so they can have one but not the other.”

Labour clearly blames National and its former trade negotiator, Tim Groser for the problem. New minister for trade negotiations, David Parker, has expressed bitter disappointment that National wouldn’t cooperate with Labour, so as to maintain a bi-partisan consensus on trade agreements. In an interview with the Herald, Parker says: “It has absolutely been clear for many, many years that the Labour Party in terms of trying to maintain bipartisan consensus around this has been strong on this ability to have New Zealand markets for our land, not international markets, and therefore how the last government chose to do that was an attempt to wedge us” – see Audrey Young’s David Parker targets trade deal and bar on house sales to overseas buyers.

Of course, now Groser is the Government’s diplomatic representative in Washington, and the question of his re-call is therefore on the agenda. Parker says this is a matter for Winston Peters, as Foreign Minister, to decide, but adds: “He is one of the people who wedged us on this issue” and “He was pretty central to those decisions.”

The AgriHQ publication has recently put across the view that in the previous National Government, “Tim Groser tried and failed to persuade Cabinet colleagues to accommodate the Labour Party’s previous policy of restricting house purchases by non-residents to preserve a long-standing consensus on trade policy between the two major parties” – see Nigel Stirling’s Groser backed trade policy. However, according to this account, “the recommendation never saw the light of day after a ‘captain’s call’ from then Prime Minister John Key and National campaign manager Steven Joyce in the middle of the Korean talks meant Groser was forced to back down.”

This is also covered by Richard Harman in his column, Did National play politics with MFAT’s TPP advice? Harman says this account reinforces the “suspicion that National played partisan politics with the TPP.” But he points to a briefing paper produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which also appears to give poor advice on these issues. Harman says: “That calls into question the quality of the advice given to the previous Government on the TPP and raises the question as to whether it was advice tailored to be acceptable to the National Government”.

Finally, for satire on this issue, see my blog post, Cartoons about foreign house sales and TPP.

Keith Rankin Analysis: Migration within New Zealand: Evidence from the Election

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Keith Rankin Analysis: Migration within New Zealand: Evidence from the Election

Keith Rankin Analysis: Migration within New Zealand: Evidence from the Election

Flight to the Fringe. Chart by Keith Rankin.

 New Zealand does not have reliable regional population statistics. The intercensal estimates that Statistics New Zealand publish are based on the extrapolation of trends that existed before the most recent census; in this case, the 2006 to 2013 trend. Sub-national population estimates are heavily revised after each census.

Last week I showed how, in the preliminary vote count for the 23 September election, the Auckland electorates revealed lower than expected vote tallies, and provincial New Zealand much higher than expected. These results meant that the population of Auckland had barely increased since 2014, or that Auckland had a disproportionate amount of uncounted special votes. Now that the final vote tally has been released, we see that both of these possibilities are true.

In today’s chart, I have grouped all electorates into regional categories, with greater Auckland divided into three categories: Auckland National, Auckland Labour, and Auckland fringe. Auckland National is those electorates in the isthmus, North Shore, and Pakuranga/Botany which have had a National MP for all this century. Likewise, Auckland Labour, which covers mainly the former Waitakere and Manukau cities, plus Tāmaki-Makaurau. While in many ways, Mt Albert and Mt Roskill are now a better fit with Auckland National, I have nevertheless included them with Auckland Labour. Auckland fringe is Helensville, Upper Harbour, Rodney, Hunua and Papakura.

The other particularly interesting grouping is the provincial ‘North-Waikato-BoP’: Northland, Whangarei, Waikato, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, East Coast, Taupo, Taranaki King Country.

The chart shows the percentage increase in votes in these groups of electorates, adjusted by the overall increase in voter turnout (from 77.9% in 2014 to 79.67% in 2017). Thus, the chart gives an estimate of the increase in voter-age population in each electorate grouping.

Auckland Labour shows the smallest voter-age population increase. However, the higher overall voter turnout is not reflected in some of these electorates, which contain many of our most disengaged young people. Some residences and schools in South Auckland are undoubtedly overcrowded, and with disproportionate numbers of children.

We note that Tāmaki-Makaurau showed a particularly low vote in 2017, while other Māori electorates showed substantial percentage increases. This is strong evidence of ‘brown flight’ from Auckland to the provinces.

Of particular interest is the Auckland National grouping of electorates, which is the principal territory of the 2012-2016 Auckland house price bubble. There is evidence of a substantial net outflow from these nine electorates; partly people moving out of Auckland, and partly other people not moving into Auckland who otherwise would have moved to Auckland. It looks suspiciously like ‘white flight’, with the recipient electorates being on the Auckland fringe, the wider Auckland hinterland, and probably wider provincial New Zealand (including the South Island).

Other metropolitan electorates also showed slower population increases than their provincial hinterlands. Christchurch, not surprisingly, shows much growth on its fringe and little growth in its suburbs.

Dunedin shows least growth in its northern electorate. Hamilton mirrored this in its eastern electorate. So did Palmerston North, and Auckland Central. (Hamilton and Palmerston North are grouped together in North Island large provincial cities.) Cities with growing proportions of international students are certainly showing much smaller increases in votes cast.

To summarise, the major demographic features of the 2017 election are the redistributions from city to fringe (and hinterland) in Auckland and Christchurch, the distribution of non-voting international students, and the increase in provincial Māori.

Keith Rankin Analysis – Auckland Population: Evidence from the Election

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Keith Rankin Analysis – Auckland Population: Evidence from the Election

Keith Rankin Analysis – Auckland Population: Evidence from the Election

Drift South? Graphic by Keith Rankin.

Last year I wrote that there is no evidence of disproportionate population growth in Auckland, and even suggested that a number of central Auckland suburbs may be experiencing population decline. (See Immigration, and Immigration and Auckland Housing.)

I have done a preliminary analysis of the electorate voting statistics. The election statistics are based on electorates drawn up on the basis of Census 2013 population distribution. Electorate boundaries were the same in 2014 and 2017.

Keith Rankin.

In today’s chart, showing selected electorates, the yellow bars show a surplus (positive percentage) either if the electorate has an above-average voter turnout, or if population increased disproportionately since the March 2013 census. The green bars will be lower than the yellow bars either if the electorate has had slower than average population growth since September 2014, or if the electorate has more special votes than the national average.

The results clearly show that there has been a net population flow from Auckland to the Bay of Plenty region; a flow that picked up after 2014. There has been a similar net flow to the ‘N’ provincial cities, and to Oamaru (Waitaki) and Dunedin. And the depopulation of the far south (eg Invercargill) appears to have reversed.

These are just preliminary results. I will do a more comprehensive analysis next week, after the final vote count. Certainly special votes may be disproportionately in Auckland.

These statistics shown do give the lie to the commonly repeated claim that net immigration into New Zealand is disproportionately into Auckland. And they do support the many anecdotal stories about Aucklanders selling up and moving to the more affordable provincial cities and towns.

When the electorate boundaries are redrawn after the 2018 census, Auckland might actually lose an electorate.

Keith Rankin: New Zealand Net Immigration from 1921

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Keith Rankin: New Zealand Net Immigration from 1921

Analysis by Keith Rankin: New Zealand Net Immigration from 1921

Immigration no Explanation for recent Real Estate Booms. Graphic copyright Keith Rankin.

This month’s chart shows the only factual measure of net immigration: total arrivals in New Zealand minus total departures. It measures annual net passenger flows as a percent of resident population, using monthly data. The most recent figure, for the year ending July 2017, shows a net inflow of 59,842; which is 1.25 percent of New Zealand’s resident population.

Net immigration is a very good indication of safe employment opportunities in New Zealand relative to opportunities elsewhere. It is generally well-synchronised to New Zealand’s economic growth cycle. This century has seen post-1920 peaks, in 2002 and 2014‑16. 2002 clearly followed the New York and Washington terror attacks in 2001. 2014‑16 also strongly reflects security and economic concerns in much of the rest of the world.

The chart marks the two most recent property booms in the Auckland (and subsequently New Zealand) residential land markets: 2003 to 2008, and 2012 to 2017.

The first boom is demarked by the gold spots, the second by the red spots. The general picture is that such booms are unrelated to immigration. In the first 21st-century boom, initial immigration appears to be incidental. As the boom progressed, net immigration fell and stayed low until 2009. This property boom took place under conditions of generally high (and rising) interest rates.

The second property boom got underway in 2011 at the end of a near-decade of low net immigration. Net immigration became significantly high only in 2014, well after the beginning of the Auckland property boom. This boom took place in a low (and sometimes falling) interest rate environment. Neither immigration nor interest rates serve as plausible explanations for the Auckland land-price booms.

When we go back in time, we see that net immigration closely reflects a stuttering economic cycle. In 1929‑30, there was significant immigration from Australia, where the global economic depression struck. This was more than two years before the summer of 1930/31 when it struck New Zealand. During the Depression, both immigration and emigration were very low. A construction boom in 1937‑38 restored high levels of immigration, especially workers from Australia.

New Zealand’s post‑war immigration peak was in 1952‑53. Immigration was also strong in the early 1960s and early 1970s. Robert Muldoon became Finance Minister from early 1967 to late 1972. Difficult years for New Zealand gave way to good years.

It is true that net immigration collapsed in Robert Muldoon’s first trimester as Prime Minister. This is when many later post-war baby-boomers (born in the 1950s) took the opportunity to enjoy their OE, while New Zealand got the world recession later than most other countries. Many of these people came back during Muldoon’s third term government, from 1981 to 1984. In those years New Zealand was continuing to liberalise (many liberal reforms – such as divorce laws, shop-trading hours, and open information – took place then). These were the years when returning New Zealanders contributed to growing movie-making, information technology, and restaurant-café growth. They were also years when New Zealand looked very pleasant from Thatcher’s new Britain and America’s experiment in Reaganomics.

Net immigration was negative during the period of the Lange-Douglas Labour government, a period of rapidly growing house prices despite emigration and high interest rates. Immigration resumed in 1991, when Australia had its financial crisis (ours began in 1987). Rising immigration in the mid‑1990s coincided with another residential property boom, though probably did not cause it. (Rising income and wealth inequality is in fact the root cause of land-banking mania. 1985 to 1995 was the period in which New Zealand transformed from an equal to an unequal society.) The late 1990s saw a general economic stasis, with changes in China and the USA eventually facilitating the growth boom of the 21st century.

New Zealand is a migrant nation. Immigration and emigration have always featured strongly in its economic and social history. Recent events are no exception. However, while New Zealand has a high population turnover, most people who have identified as New Zealanders remain Kiwis at heart.

What of the 2020s? I think that, for New Zealand, they will prove much like the 1920s. New Zealand will stutter as the world economy slowly implodes.

Indonesia, Timor-Leste establish new forum process to settle border disputes

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Indonesia, Timor-Leste establish new forum process to settle border disputes

Article by

Indonesia and Timor-Leste have agreed to establish a Senior Official Consultation (SOC) forum to formulate the settlement of border disputes.

The agreement was made following a meeting between Coordinating Minister for Political, Security and Legal Affairs Wiranto, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and Timor-Leste’s minister of development planning and investment at Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, on Monday.

“Indonesia and Timor-Leste agreed to form SOC, which is a small group that will discuss the technicalities in the agreement to settle land border disputes in Noel Besi (in the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara) and Citrana (in Timor-Leste).

“The discussion is scheduled on March 10 in Bali,” Wiranto told the media.

He stated that the discussion would be directed to create steps to settle disputes comprehensively and create a bilateral agreement later.

Retno said there are still two unresolved segments on the border between Indonesia and Timor-Leste, which are located between Noel Besi and Citrana and between Bijael Sunan and Oben.

“With Timor-Leste, we have had long negotiations. In view of that and based on goodwill, the two governments finally agreed to set up the SOC to expedite the settlement of the negotiations in the two segments,” she noted.

She said Timor Leste’s Foreign Minister Roberto Soares would be sent to represent Timor-Leste in the SOC, while Indonesia would be represented by the Director-General of Asia Pacific and Africa of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Desra Percaya.

She said that the settlement of the land border disputes would also involve communities in the two countries disputed border areas.

“We have agreed to invite communities in the border areas to share their views, in addition to the government-to-government settlement process,” she added.

Juffa demands Labour boss step down over work permit allegations

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Juffa demands Labour boss step down over work permit allegations

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By Freddy Mou in Port Moresby

Northern Governor Gary Juffa has called on the Papua New Guinea government to sideline Labour Secretary Mary Morola, claiming she is not fit to run the office.

Juffa alleged that Morola had been sleeping in office and allowing illegal practices over work permits to happen.

The Opposition MP claimed that an officer attached to the department had been illegally issuing work permit to foreigners who have never spoken a word of English.

Juffa said even though English was a prerequisite for the work permit, the named officer continued to issue work permits and receive bribes.

He added that most jobs done by these expatriates, especially Asians, could be done by local people.

“This officer must explain how all expats who cannot speak a word of English have been granted work permits when English is a prerequisite,” he said.

Localised jobs
Juffa said jobs like drivers, shop assistants and security guards were localised jobs and must not be given to expatriates.

He called on the government to look into this issue and deal with it as soon as possible before anything happened to the security of the nation.

Juffa also challenged the Labour Secretary to have a walk into a shop at Gerehu or any suburb in the city and see for herself the influx of expatriates working in the tuckershops.

The governor said he would be filing a police report to investigate the officer involved in issuing work permits to the expatriates.

Freddy Mou is a senior journalist on Loop PNG.

Colourful, vibrant Aotearoa rally condemns Trump’s ‘racist, Islamophobic’ bans

MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Headline: Colourful, vibrant Aotearoa rally condemns Trump’s ‘racist, Islamophobic’ bans

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Video and images by the Pacific Media Centre’s Del Abcede. Video: Café Pacific

More than 2000 people have taken part in a colourful and vibrant  “Aotearoa Against Muslim Ban” march in New Zealand’s largest city to condemn the “racist and Islamophobic” immigration bans ordered by US President Trump.

The protest rally was held in Auckland’s Aotea Square yesterday in solidarity with those affected by President Trump’s executive orders to implement a 90-day ban on people from seven Muslim majority countries and 120 day ban on all refugees, with an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.

The Aotearoa Against Muslim Ban coalition condemned the US bans ordered by Trump.

“These border policies are racist, Islamophobic and unacceptable,” said Mehwish, one of the organisers of the “No Ban, No Wall” protest.

“They continue a pattern of white supremacist immigration exclusion in colonial settler countries like the United States. Bill English refusing to call it for what it is – racist – is a dangerously weak response and doesn’t represent the people of Aotearoa.

“Globally, there is an increase in Islamophobia that marginalises and advocates violence against Muslim communities.

‘Scary step towards facism’
Fahad, another organiser of the protest, said: “Singling out Muslims and people from specific Muslim-majority countries is a scary step towards fascism.”

Another organiser, Nisha, said: “We should not see the executive orders in isolation. Deportations and immigration restrictions have been in place for years.

“Rather than seeing Trump as an exception to the rule, we need to question the political and systematic racism that treats minorities, people of colour and immigrants as the ‘dangerous others’.”

Aotearoa Against Muslim Ban calls for the New Zealand government to increase the refugee quota, oppose and divest from wars in the Middle East, provide adequate resources for migrant and refugee communities and condemn these racist and Islamophobic immigration bans.

Amnesty International in yesterday’s protest. Image: Del Abcede/PMC The antidote for “Fear, Anger,Hate”. Image: Del Abcede/PMC “Be brave”. Image: Del Abcede/PMC “Build bridges, not walls.” Image” Del Abcede/PMC