Thursday, 21 April 2016

Happy Birthday, Your Majesty

Most people would expect this post to be a negative one - but I genuinely do wish the Queen a happy 90th birthday.

As I've long argued, the Queen is our head of State, yet the head of State issue in New Zealand is not actually about the Queen or the Royals generally. If New Zealand had a head of State of its own, the Royals would still be around and in our media. That would be the case even if Britain became a republic. So there's no reason to be mean-spirited on birthdays or other family events. Happy birthday Your Majesty.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Flag referendum: postmortem pending

I'll do a full postmortem in time on the flag referendum, but for now I've got to write one for Radio New Zealand... will post a link here once it's up.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Change the NZ Flag

The lack of updates is due to working on the Change the NZ Flag campaign. Here's our first video:

Friday, 22 January 2016

The Greens and science

The Greens have launched a campaign to ban the use of glyphosate weed killers in public parks and streets, probably as a precursor to a total ban. While often claiming to be the party of science, more often than not the Greens are suckered into advocating policies I would politely describe as junk science.

On glyphosate, the scientific community has reacted strongly. Experts on weed science (it exists) state that the carcinogenic risks are "...the same level of warning as burning wood in the fireplace at home, upsetting circadian rhythms by doing shift work, or being a hairdresser." Sciblogs has a further refutation of the Greens' claims on glyphosate.

This policy is being driven by Steffan Browning, the MP previously famous for signing a petition calling for the testing of homeopathy to cure ebola. When questioned on this, Steffan said that he was "not opposed" to homeopathy. Steffan is free to be "not opposed" to whatever unscientific nonsense he likes - but trying to solve serious health issues (such as the excessive use of weed killers or the ebola virus) with what appear to be internet-meme inspired nonsense is embarrassing. Greens co-leader, James Shaw, seems to have let this one get past the keeper.

But it isn't just Steffan Browning. The Greens have a continually confused for and against stance on smart meters as well. Smart meters are essential for a smart grid to enable wider use of renewable energy sources. However now former Green MP Sue Kedgely was dead against them, claiming electro-magnetic field (EMF) radiation poses a serious health risk. This stance was later modified (once Sue had left parliament) to oppose smart meters for privacy reasons. Yet Dave Clendon was, about the same time, pushing a members' bill that would essentially make smart meters compulsory.

This appears to be a more fundamental issue within the Green movement between those who accept scientific orthodoxy and those who don't. As usual in politics, this appears to be a broad split between the party's MPs and its members. Take the issue of genetic modification. In Australia recently the leader of the Federal Greens, a former medical doctor, said he "does not believe genetically modified crops pose a significant risk to human health." This sent a number of Green members into conniptions.

I suspect there will be more of this sort of confusion as the Greens try to position themselves as a serious coalition partner for Labour. James Shaw certainly has his work cut out for him.

Monday, 18 January 2016

NZ First wrong again

NZ First MPs are shopping around this article from a former Reserve Bank economist, claiming it proves they're right about immigration slowing down the economy. Except this former Reserve Bank economist can't get basic facts right. He claims:
"We've brought in tens of thousands of people a year for the last 25 years and we've just continued to slowly drift behind the rest of the world."
This is wrong. A quick search of the GDP per capita statistics from the OECD shows this isn't even slightly correct:

While we did fall behind the OECD average (the black line) in the mid 1980s, we've been rapidly catching up - something we've managed to do very well recently (also notice that dip from 2007-2010 in the black line? That's the recession. Notice how New Zealand's line stays flat.)