Is it time to red-sticker the ETS?

Is it time to red-sticker our Emissions Trading  Scheme?  Each year we pour billions into the ETS in an arguably futile exercise to reduce our tiny proportion of global emissions. In the meantime our critical infrastructure is collapsing around us. Surely we would be better off investing those billions in building climate resilient roads, bridges, power and communication networks?

Currently New Zealanders are paying around $2.4billion per annum into the ETS. That’s at the present market price of around $70 per tonne of CO2. However over the next few years that price is expected to rise to around $100 per tonne. That will mean nearly $3.4billion annually disappearing into what is essentially an exercise in international virtue signalling. New Zealand’s CO2 emissions only make up one tenth of one per cent of the global total. So even if the scheme eventually achieves its aim of halving our emissions, we will have merely split the atom of our contribution to the global problem. Meantime China, India and rest of Asia make up 58% of emissions and are continuing to build coal fired power stations.

Most of us are not even aware of the huge sums going into the ETS. The way the scheme works means its costs are largely invisible to ordinary citizens. But at $3.4billion that is approx. $1,700 per annum for every household in New Zealand. We were never really asked about this effective tax increase by stealth. But we are all paying it in the price of fuel, electricity and gas. And of course that ignores the extra costs which the higher price of those essentials adds to everything else.

Some will argue that these funds are recycled into planting trees and funding green energy projects like EVs and converting gas boilers to electricity. However it is not clear how much is actually recycled. And even if all of it is, this investment is again focused solely on the futile exercise of reducing our microscopic contribution to global emissions. It does nothing to build our resilience to natural disasters. In fact it makes us more at risk. Pine trees have not been part of the solution on the East Coast – they have been part of the problem. Forestry slash has both blocked and fortified flooded rivers, making them even more destructive.

And if we think electrifying much of our transport sector, as well as the heating in our industries, schools and hospitals, will improve resilience we are making a big mistake. Fuel source diversity is what mitigates risk, not increasing reliance on one energy source. And certainly not an energy source which is difficult to store and delivered by a network that is at particular risk in natural disasters. Petrol has been limited in Napier this week due to Cyclone Gabrielle. But electricity has been non-existent.

In spite of all this the Greens co-leader James Shaw argued yesterday (NZ Herald) that we can’t stop trying to reduce our emissions. Rather we “actually have to double down on that”. Anyone suggesting otherwise was apparently promoting a form of climate “denialism”. Perhaps Shaw is the one in denial. Not only are our national CO2 emissions globally insignificant, even on a per capita basis they are already some of the lowest in the developed world. We are only about a third of Australia’s per head of population. In the meantime our critical infrastructure is collapsing while we pour billions into the ETS to try and further reduce our emissions.

It’s time for a change of direction. We may not need to red-sticker the ETS. But certainly the funds going into it need to be redirected. We need better roads, stronger bridges, and even tunnels. We need more robust electricity, communications, and water supply networks. We need stronger flood protection measures. Over the next five years we could start work on these urgent needs using the $15billion going into the ETS. Or we could continue to waste those funds on pointless emissions reductions initiatives – some of which are actually reducing our resilience. New Zealand only has so much national income to invest. So the choice here is very real. And suggesting we can do both is the real “denialism”.

Ewen McQueen
February 2023

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Abject political cowardice

Sing the party song – and nothing else. Absolutely nothing else. Not even the slightest squeak of a different note. Even if it is based on deep personal conviction about the sanctity of human life. This is what the National Party has come to. It is why I exited four years ago.

With the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade this week, our media was awash with anguished cries of outrage from those who consider it acceptable to terminate unborn children. Socially liberal MPs in particular were unapologetic in publicly expressing their ire. The silence from pro-life MPs was deafening. That was until Tamaki MP, Simon O Connor, bravely posted on Facebook an extremely mild endorsement of the Court’s decision – “Today is a good day.”

It immediately became a very bad day for Simon. The outrage went quickly to the top, and leader Christopher Luxon was on the phone.  The post had to be removed. Apparently it was “insensitive” and distressing. The conversation was constructive we are told, and O’Connor insists he was not gagged. The post was simply a “misstep” and he would apologise to caucus for creating this distraction from the Nats’ core messaging. His caucus colleague Simeon Brown MP likewise publicly apologised for the “distress” he had caused simply by liking the O’Connor post. Luxon later confirmed that O’Connor had voluntarily removed his post, but noted “it was coming down one way or another”.

All then publicly gathered behind the Luxon line that the abortion issue had been settled in New Zealand and would not be re-litigated under National. State funding for abortion services would also be guaranteed. And a private members bill from their caucus dealing with the issue was highly unlikely.

Ironic does not even come close to describing such statements coming from all of these ostensibly pro-life MPs. Bizarre is a better description.  New Zealand now has some of the most extreme abortion laws in the world, effectively allowing abortion up until birth. And from our pro-life MPs in a future National administration we are not to expect even the slightest effort to tweak the laws, question taxpayer funding, or even raise a voice of dissent?

It would seem that an overwhelming fear of their opponents and the liberal media whipping up hysteria over their personal convictions has produced total moral paralysis. This is no longer the National Party being neutral, and allowing its members freedom of conscience. It is the Nats effectively endorsing the Labour position on the issue, and refusing to countenance the expression of any other views by its MPs. All in feverish pursuit of power. And all being facilitated by a leader who professes to be pro-life.

Meanwhile two pro-life Labour MPs today publicly stated why they had the courage to vote against their own party’s liberalisation of abortion in 2020. Jamie Strange and Rino Tirikatene both noted their mothers were advised by their doctors to abort them. Not surprisingly they indicated they would vote the same way if it came up again. Their frankness in the face of such abject political cowardice from their National party counterparts was refreshing.

Ewen McQueen
June 2022

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Jackson all over the co-governance paddock

Labour MP Willie Jackson is a likeable chap. But his TVNZ interview on co-governance last week was a difficult watch. Jackson was a flailing mass of contradictions, confusion, and ill-defined slogans. Interviewer Jack Tame tried to get some clarity, but was unable to penetrate the murk. Which is a problem, because on a matter of such constitutional significance, we urgently need clarity.

The question which Tame should have asked to crystalize the discussion was simple – did Jackson think changing our governing system so that 15% of the population could exercise 50% of the power was democratic? Because it is becoming increasingly apparent that 50/50 power-sharing is what the advocates of co-governance really mean. No one likes to say it, and Jackson was certainly never going to admit it. But that is clearly the implication of their oft-repeated references to the “equal partnership” between Māori and the Crown. And it is also what is now being pursued in an ever widening range of governance spheres across New Zealand.

50/50 power-sharing also appeared to be what Jackson was advocating when he spoke about the need for “equity” as promised under Article Three of the Treaty. However he also asserted that democracy was always about “one-person, one-vote”. But if the votes of individuals in one group carry significantly more weight than those in other groups, then that foundational principle is negated. It’s simple maths. And ignoring that, or pretending it’s not a problem, does not make it go away.

Jackson blustered that Māori were “invisible” and simply wanted a seat at the table. But a seat at the table is not the same thing as half the table. And the fact is, that at least in central government, Māori already have a number of highly visible seats at the table. The Māori electorate seats plus MMP have seen to that. It may be a good idea to make similar arrangements for Māori representation at local government level. But lets do it in the same way we do for Parliament – with seat numbers based on proportionality. That will provide visibility and a voice at the table without negating the “one-person, one-vote” principle.

There is no doubt that in a democracy there is a real issue with what Jackson called the “tyranny of the majority”. Which is why facilitating a voice for minorities in any democracy is an important safeguard. But the tyranny of the minority is also something that needs to be seriously considered. Indeed it must be guarded against if we are to maintain widespread public confidence in the legitimacy and fairness of our governing system. Unfortunately those advocating the simplistic equal power-sharing model of co-governance don’t seem to have grasped that. Either that or they erroneously claim it is a requirement of the Treaty – but that is a whole other story…

Ewen McQueen
April 2022

Posted in NZ History, Treaty of Waitangi | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Many aeroplanes, many aeroplanes…!

Maleme airfield 2019

It is an overcast late afternoon at Maleme airfield in Crete. The place is packed with local Greeks. They are here for the annual service to remember the Battle of Crete. Included is a re-enactment of the day in 1941 when the Germans opened their airborne invasion. But the few dozen parachutists now floating down over the airfield bear little resemblance to what actually happened on that fateful day. 

The records tell of a beautiful spring Mediterranean morning. However the sunny blue sky was soon darkened. Not with cloud. But with hundreds of German aircraft dropping thousands of paratroopers. The sky was literally full of the invading enemy. Nothing on this scale had ever been seen before.

The New Zealand division had been tasked with defending this part of the island. But they were ill-prepared. In the months prior they had been driven out of mainland Greece by the Nazi blitzkrieg and evacuated to the island of Crete. They had left behind or lost much valuable equipment. They had little air-cover and had been constantly strafed by German aircraft for weeks. And now they awoke to this.

It was a mesmerising sight. But in a moment the Battle of Crete was upon them. It was a battle in which they fought ferociously. In the first hours and days the Germans were easy targets as they floated to earth, or struggled out of landed parachutes or crashed gliders. Their forces were decimated. Indeed such were their losses that Hitler never again ventured a major airborne assault. But eventually they took the strategic Maleme airfield and were able to fly in reinforcements directly. From that moment the battle for the New Zealanders was lost. They fought valiant rear-guard actions in the Cretan villages and olive groves (Galatas and Forty Second St) but were again evacuated from Greek soil some weeks later.

The Battle of Crete may have been lost – but the Greeks haven’t forgotten.

As the crowd disperses from the airfield my wife and I notice a stooped elderly woman. She is carrying a small New Zealand flag. It is a welcome sight in a far off land and so we make our way over. “We like your flag.” Suddenly she is animated – “I love New Zealand! I love New Zealand!” And in moment we are transported with her back seventy-eight years. In a mix of Greek and broken English she tells us her story of how as a little girl she also awoke to the shadow of war that morning. Looking up and waving her arms at the sky she exclaims – “Poly aeroplano! Poly aeroplano!” Many aeroplanes! The sight is clearly burned into her memory. As is her gratitude for those came from so far away to fight for her and her people.

We listen intently. Then she kisses my wife enthusiastically on both cheeks, and disappears into the crowd with her flag. And we move on from Maleme humbled, and with our hearts warmed by such gratitude and love for our nation, so far from home.

Ewen McQueen
Anzac Day 2022

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When North Korea came to New Zealand

Kim Jong-un would be proud of it. A bill which establishes a State-ordained ideology, empowers activists to enforce the ideology, and threatens anyone who dares to resist with loss of livelihood and imprisonment. All of it introduced with classic doublespeak from the Party – its objective, we are told, is to promote respectful and open discussion.

But we are not in North Korea. We are in New Zealand, a land with with one of the longest  traditions of democratically elected parliaments in the world. And yet astonishingly, it is also now the land of a bill whose pedigree is pure police state. The Conversion Practices Prohibition Bill.

The CPP Bill does something unique in New Zealand history. It establishes a State-ordained ideology of human sexuality and gender. And then it threatens to criminalise and imprison anyone who pushes back against it. And just for good measure it empowers anyone who feels they have been a victim of breaches of the approved ideology to seek civil damages from offenders.

Ironically, the strongest advocates of this Bill have for years falsely accused those who  affirm a Judeo-Christian worldview of sexuality and gender of trying to “impose their views” on others. And yet the moment these advocates have achieved unbridled power in our current one-party Government, they are targeting for prison anyone who actively disagrees with their ideology. The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

Indeed there are many things breathtaking about the CPP Bill. How about its arrogance in assuming that Kiwi parents need to be bullied and intimidated by the threat of criminal sanctions so that they will have “open and respectful discussions” on sexuality and gender with their children. What an astonishing insult. Or what about its outlandish claim on our credulity in its pretense that threats of court proceedings, imprisonment or fines, will actually foster open discussion. Really? Disingenuous goes nowhere near describing those expecting us to believe this stuff.

But perhaps the most breathtakingly egregious aspect of this Bill is that whilst it bullies and threatens parents, it facilitates and empowers activist ideologues. Take steps to actively discourage your teenage son or daughter from gender transition and you risk serious jail time. But the ideologue encouraging them to “explore” their gender identity, helping them to “express” themselves, and actively supporting them in transition, is given a free pass. Apparently that is not a a conversion practice.* This Bill is a one way street.

The Conversion Practices Prohibition Bill is about empowering by brute legal force the deluded ideology of gender fluidity. It is an ideology which masquerades as compassion. But in reality it will deliver many of our vulnerable young people to a dangerous destination of confusion, doubt and anxiety about who they really are. A destination which will lead many of them to the very self-harm its advocates claim to be concerned about.

As for the rest of us – we will wake up wondering how we came to be living in North Korea.

Ewen McQueen
October 2021

* Refer Conversion Practices Prohibition Bill – Submission Ewen McQueen

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Faafoi doubles down on doublespeak

How does threatening parents with jail encourage them to have “open and healthy discussion” with their children on sexuality and gender? Minister Kris Faafoi needs to tell us. Because he keeps repeating it.

Faafoi tells us this is the real aim of the Conversion Practices Prohibition Bill. However the slightest amount of rational thought reveals this line for what it is – a vacuous PR slogan designed to avert attention from the actual intent and effect of the bill. That intent has nothing to do with open discussion. In fact it is the opposite. The bill’s real aim is to  enforce rainbow and gender-fluidity ideology and silence any dissent against it – even within the private sphere of family life.

The bill would mean a parent who refuses to allow their 12 year old child to go on hormone blockers so they can “explore their gender identity” is at serious risk of having legal proceedings commenced against them. All it will take is a complaint from some activist ideologue at the child’s school, and the parent is on the road to court – perhaps even jail.

In his interviews on the proposed new law, Faafoi avoids answers to direct questions on whether parents will be criminalised. Is it because he knows they will? Or does he actually believe his own doublespeak about open and healthy discussion? Listening to him it certainly seems like it. One is reminded of the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Writing in 1943 in Germany, Bonhoeffer spoke of the difficulty in trying to communicate with someone blinded by ideology. He stated,

One feels in fact, when talking to him, that one is dealing, not with the man himself, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like, which have taken hold of him. He is under a spell, he is blinded, his very nature is being misused and exploited… he will be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. (1)

To be fair, Minister Faafoi is far from alone in his unquestioning commitment to this bill. At its first reading, MPs from nearly every party in Parliament sprung up in support. They proudly told us how they were going to be on the “right side of history”. Another great slogan. But it won’t keep parents out of jail. And it won’t help our increasingly confused and vulnerable young people.

Let’s be clear. The ideology of gender-fluidity has no basis in science. Yet it is being aggressively pushed into our culture by activists. As a result, gender identity confusion among young people has exploded. They are then offered “treatment” which interrupts their natural physiological development – the very development which in most cases will actually resolve their confusion. And it is treatment which has the risk of irreversible life-long impacts. But by law they must now be free to choose it without parental interference. All this for children who can’t vote, drink, get married, drive a car, or in many cases even be legally left alone at home.

The supporters of this bill tell us they want to prevent “serious harm” to young people. But if that was true, they would have the intellectual and moral honesty to face these facts. But they don’t. So they won’t. Instead they will satisfy themselves with meaningless slogans. And they will criminalise parents desperate to protect their children, all the time refusing to see the evil they are perpetrating.

Ewen McQueen
August 2021

(1) Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, SCM Press, London, 1953, page 9

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Hate speech law – intimidation legalised

And so it begins. The all-out assault on Truth in our nation. In the same week that the New Zealand Olympic Committee selected a man to compete against women, our Government outlined its plans to criminalise anyone who dares to publicly question such absurdity. Do so, and you risk three years in jail, or a $50,000 fine.

Think I’m joking? Read the proposals. Like this Government’s abortion reforms, their proposed hate speech laws are an exercise in extremism. It will be a crime to “maintain or normalise hatred” merely by saying something which could be interpreted as insulting to certain groups.

And when it comes to feeling offended and insulted we all know who will be lining up to air their hurt feelings. It won’t be those of a socially conservative persuasion. Such citizens (especially Christians) have been mocked and vilified in our media for years. But they don’t complain. No, the weaponising of offence will come from elsewhere. It will be the activists of wokeism who will be seeking targets on whom to unleash these laws. Those pushing the deluded ideology of gender fluidity will be especially pleased. Their cause is singled out for special treatment in the Government’s proposals. Under the law, so called gender expression and identity will become a specifically protected group characteristic.

Of course some will argue that no reasonable judge will convict someone for an alleged insult. But without any objective criteria to define normalising “hatred”, the judiciary will inevitably be guided by “generally accepted” community standards. For that you can read – whoever makes the loudest noise. And in our public square the quiet voices of reason and common sense have long since been drowned out by a very vocal minority. Will judges be able to resist the noise? “If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar!” springs to mind.

Even if the judiciary do find courage, relying on common sense being inserted into the process at that stage will be far too late. Those accused of speech crimes, even if acquitted, will still have had to go through the whole costly and gruelling process of defending themselves in court. That will be punishment enough. And the activists who will bring complaints know it. That’s why they are such strong advocates of this legislation. It will be the best weapon they have for enforcing the cultural cleansing of any views which don’t align with their agenda.

With this law the devil is not so much in the detail. It is not even in how many court cases actually follow. The power of its poison lies almost entirely in intimidation. The mere risk of being charged with a crime will ensure most people think twice before expressing a view that might be deemed unacceptable. It’s called self-censorship. And it will follow as a chilling inevitability if these hate speech laws pass. Few will dare to question any more. Free speech will be dead.

At that point Truth will not just have fallen in our public square. It will have been actively driven out. Pursued by ideologues of multiple woke causes, but probably led by those brandishing a ridiculous list of gender pronouns in one hand, and the full force of the law in the other.

Ewen McQueen
July 2021

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We fought for them. They fought for us.

Sfakia, south coast Crete

It was a sunny blue morning. But the skulls had bullet holes in them. They were in a glass case within a monument above the village of Sfakia on the south coast of Crete. The plaque noted they had been executed by the Germans for helping New Zealanders escape in 1941.

A few days later we sat in a taverna overlooking the tiny Sfakia beach. From here thousands of New Zealand soldiers were evacuated at night. They had fought courageously, but ill-equipped and with no air support they had been battered by the Luftwaffe and hounded by the German paratroops which followed. Now wounded, demoralised and defeated, they had dragged themselves over the mountains to this remote village on the south coast. Thousands were taken off under cover of darkness to British warships which took them to safe haven in Egypt. But many had to be left behind to fend for themselves.

However they were not alone. In their efforts to evade capture they were assisted by the locals. Hundreds were fed, sheltered, and hidden. For this many Cretans paid with their lives. Sometimes whole villages, including the elderly, women and children were executed. We fought for them. But let’s not forget that they fought for us. And let us not forget what happens when an evil ideology takes power. When a State arrogates to itself the right to determine and enforce what is right thinking, acceptable belief, and correct speech – brutality follows not far behind.

It was a quiet evening in the Sfakia taverna. So I approached the owner. His English was not good so I showed him a photo of the monument on the hill above the village. At first he looked puzzled. Then I explained we were from Nea Zelandia. And I thanked him for what his forefathers had done for mine. “Efcharisto poly!” I said. At that moment there was a meeting of hearts. Acts of great courage, honour, and sacrifice, were remembered and acknowledged across generations and oceans.

Let us never forget. Liberty has a price.

Ewen McQueen
Anzac Day 2021

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The Chiefs respond to Heke’s flagstaff attack

The Waimate North mission station – location of the 1844 hui to discuss Heke’s flagstaff attack

“We are one tribe, and we will fight for the staff and our Governor.” So declared Tamati Waka Nene. It was September 1844. Hone Heke had recently attacked the flagstaff at Kororareka. Now Governor Fitzroy had travelled north to address the situation.

First he met with a large group of Chiefs at the Waimate mission station. Fitzroy explained the significance of the flagstaff. This symbol of Crown sovereignty did not make them slaves as Heke had claimed. Rather it promised them the liberty enjoyed by British citizens. Fitzroy invited full, open and plain discussion on the matter. The gathered Chiefs obliged, and their responses to Fitzroy were startling.

Today we are told Heke attacked the flagstaff because the dual-sovereignty partnership ostensibly agreed to in the Treaty was not being honoured. But from the twenty four Chiefs gathered at Waimate a very different picture emerges. In the record of the meeting (Auckland Museum Library OCM77 MS-430) we hear  almost unanimous support for the Governor. Not only this, but there are some very clear endorsements of his pre-eminent governing authority over all New Zealanders.

From Patuone we hear – “Governor, you are the great chief of this place”

From Wai – “there is no cause; the chieftainship rests with one, the Governor”

From Waka Nene – “Governor if that flagstaff is cut down again, we will fight for it, we will fight for it all of us, we are one tribe, and we will fight for the staff and our Governor.”

Today it is fashionable to assert that, in the Treaty, the Chiefs expected to retain full sovereignty over their own people, whilst the Governor would only exercise authority over the European settlers. Clearly these Chiefs at Waimate didn’t see it that way. They recognised Fitzroy as “our Governor” and openly acknowledged his authority.

That didn’t mean they were all happy with how Fitzroy was governing. There had already been strong push-back against the customs duties he had implemented. These were a sore point for many. However that did not move them from their prior Treaty commitment. Indeed many went on to fight against Heke in demonstration of that commitment.

Sadly their honourable efforts are today largely downplayed, or their motives impugned by modernist historians intent on pushing the dual-sovereignty paradigm. Instead Heke, a known troublemaker who instigated a violent uprising in which many died, is acclaimed as the flag-bearer of the “equal-partnership” cause. But as Wai declared – “there is no cause; the chieftainship rests with one, the Governor.”

Ewen McQueen
February 2021

For more details get a copy of my new book One Sun in the Sky: the untold story of sovereignty and the Treaty of Waitangi

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Why did Hone Heke cut down the flagstaff?

The modern view is that Hone Heke cut down the flagstaff at Kororareka because his expectation of a dual sovereignty partnership as agreed in the Treaty had not been met. But is this true?

Watch this short video for a different perspective…

For the full story, get your copy of my new book One Sun in the Sky: the untold story of sovereignty and the Treaty of Waitangi

Ewen McQueen
February 2021

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