Karl du Fresne

Karl du Fresne

Devious, Manipulative and Deceitful

We learned a few days ago that on the day before the September 23 general election, Winston Peters kick-started legal action against National cabinet ministers - including then prime minister Bill English - party officials, a senior public servant and two journalists over the leaking of his superannuation overpayment. He took this action without disclosing it to either the National or Labour parties.


Karl du Fresne

Post-election hiatus illustrates the perversity of MMP

The only thing that can be said with any certainty about the next New Zealand government is that it will look very different from the last one. National party prime minister Bill English won an emphatic 13-seat majority over the opposition Labour party in an election result that defied the pattern of history.


Karl du Fresne

The gang-up on Don Brash

It’s hard to recall a more concerted gang-up against a public figure than the one that followed the launch of former National Party leader Don Brash’s Hobson’s Pledge movement, which wants an end to race-based preference.


Karl du Fresne

Whatever this is, it's not democracy

I’ve always thought democracy is a pretty good sort of system. Not perfect, of course, but as Winston Churchill said: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”


Karl du Fresne

Heavy-handed Policing

Human nature is a perverse thing. It consistently thwarts all attempts to coerce us into behaving the way bureaucrats, politicians and assorted control freaks think we should.


Karl du Fresne

The right to free speech - more fragile than ever

What do a world-famous historian, a British author and a New Zealand cartoonist have in common? On the face of it, not much – except that all three have been embroiled recently in controversies that show how fragile the right of free speech has become in supposedly liberal democracies.


Karl du Fresne

Newspapers lose readers and revenue

Some time back in the 1990s, I wrote an article that began: “The newspaper you are holding in your hands is an endangered species.” The risk to newspapers that worried me then had to do with media freedom. That remains a matter of concern to journalists – probably always will be – but it has been replaced by a far more urgent threat. Dismal financial results reportedly recently by the two big newspaper groups, APN News and Media and Fairfax Media, confirmed what had long been obvious: that the newspaper industry is reeling from the impact of the internet.


Karl du Fresne

Three more years

Let’s get the congratulations out of the way first. National’s election triumph was as emphatic as they get, at least under MMP. Admittedly, it’s rare for a government to be tossed out of office after only one term: it last happened in 1975, and the circumstances then were unusual. Norman Kirk had died in office and the Labour Party leadership had been assumed by the mild-mannered Bill Rowling, who was ill-prepared to deal with the aggression and firepower of a political streetfighter named Muldoon.


Karl du Fresne

It’s Time to Call the Teachers’ Bluff

History tells us that when a government takes on a trade union, there can be only one outcome. In 1912, William Massey’s government famously crushed a strike by Waihi gold miners. The following year, the same administration recruited special mounted constables from rural areas – dubbed “Massey’s Cossacks” because of their riding skills – to subdue striking waterfront workers.


Karl du Fresne

The Road to Hell…

In a column in The Dominion Post in February 2008, I wrote that a law change requiring intellectually disabled workers to be paid the legal minimum wage was a triumph of human rights ideology over common sense. My column attracted a response from Ruth Dyson, then the Minister for Disability Issues, who told me in an email that in fact it was a triumph of fairness and common sense over ideology.