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Dr Muriel Newman

Swimming With the Tide of Political Opinion

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Politics is a battle of ideology and influence.

Thanks to the internet, people are able to engage in this battle of ideas as never before. While social media has the virtuous intent of connecting people and communities, it has also become the frontline for a colossal struggle between propaganda and the truth.

Those who freely express their views are increasingly finding themselves targeted by those who wish to suppress the opinions of those they disagree with.

In this new era of social media politics, speaking the truth can be dangerous if it pokes the hornets’ nest of radicals who inhabit the online community.

Zealots are ready to denigrate anyone who states what used to be self-evident truths, such as the fact that there are only two genders – male and female. It’s no longer acceptable to state that the ‘safest’ family environment in which to raise a child is one where the biological mum and dad are married – in spite of the evidence being overwhelming. And woe betide anyone who says the feminist movement has gone too far, even though we are reminded of that truth almost every single day.

It’s now reached the ridiculous stage where those who, in the words of Martin Luther King, are calling for a person to be judged by the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin, are being labelled as ‘racists’, even though equality before the law is a fundamental cornerstone of a free society.

Former US President Barack Obama understands the crucial importance of equality only too well, having used the opportunity of last week’s high profile address to commemorate the 100th birthday of Nelson Mandela, to warn of the inherent danger of racial differentiation: “countries which rely on… doctrines of tribal or racial superiority as their main organising principle – the thing that holds people together – eventually those countries find themselves consumed by civil war or external war.”

He’s right, of course. By yielding to the demands of the powerful iwi elite to promote tribalism and entrench racial privilege, successive New Zealand governments have contributed to the creation of an increasingly divided society.

Instead of continuing down this present path, which can only lead to increasing strife and conflict, New Zealand should follow the lead of enlightened countries like Austria, Belgium, Finland, and more recently, Sweden and France, that have recognised the fundamental truth that when it comes to human beings, there is only one race, the human race.

Having acknowledged that ‘race’ has no scientific validity, these countries have removed all references to ancestry and race from their legislation. State assistance is now provided on the basis of need, not race.

While it is not politically correct to say so, the truth is that in New Zealand, race has become a dangerous political construct that is being used to gain disproportionate influence and power. If we are to become a nation where all citizens are truly equal in the eyes of the law, then we too, must remove all references to race and ethnicity from our Statute books.

When it comes the wider propaganda war, even professionals, who at one time could be trusted for their impartiality, are now becoming engaged, and exposing themselves as political advocates.

An example of this emerged last week, when the Association of Medical Specialists asked some of their members for their views on the effects of poverty on child health.

Paediatrician Dr Jeff Brown from the Mid-Central District Health Board claimed that the cases of children with “maggot-infested scalps” and “rotting teeth” that he saw were the result of living in “cold, damp houses”, and he blamed the underlying situation on the “huge income disparity between rich and poor”.

Another paediatrician, who wanted to remain anonymous, claimed, “In a developed country like New Zealand, we can make choices – do we pursue economic growth and enable a small section of the community to accumulate wealth. Or do we adopt a caring philosophy where government policy is aimed at improving the education, welfare and health of its poorest. We can’t do both – ‘trickle down’ doesn’t work.”

It is clear from their comments that while their remarks were being made “as a paediatrician”, in effect, they amount to political opinions being made from a professional pedestal. The irony of lamenting the apparent consequences of income inequality, while belonging to one of the highest paid professions, is obviously lost on them. 

The reality is that living in cold, damp houses, does not cause maggot infested scalps and rotting teeth. These are caused by parental abuse and neglect.

There is no excuse for the abuse of children, and one would expect paediatricians to be much more considered in their remarks when commenting on the causes.

What we know is that children are more likely to suffer neglect if they are brought up in single parent families on welfare, where alcohol and drugs are prevalent, and where money management skills are poor. Yet, rather than point the finger squarely at negligent parents and the real causes of poverty and inequality, these specialists joined in a chorus of commentary typical of socialist activists.

While paediatricians should certainly be encouraged to speak out about the horrific treatment of children in our communities, the reality is that if they want to retain their professional integrity and maintain the respect of New Zealanders, they should speak as professionals on matters relating to their area of expertise.

In fact, more professionals should be encouraged to speak out on troubling public policy issues, as they are often the ones who can help to shed light on what needs to be done to turn the situations around. But we need them to be honest and tell the truth, not echo government propaganda.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator is also concerned about professionals who are failing to speak the truth. Bryan Leyland, an electrical engineer, came face to face with this problem at a conference last month, as he explains:

“At the Electricity Engineers Association annual conference a few weeks ago many of the speakers – including keynote speakers from overseas – seemed to have forgotten that, as technological advisers to the government, it is their duty to tell the government what it needs to know rather than what they think it wants to hear.

“Virtually all of them said that it is essential that we fight climate change by exploiting wind and solar power supplemented by batteries and by converting to electric cars.

“Many seemed to believe that the world’s climate would change if New Zealand reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and that New Zealand has no option but to abide by its Paris agreement promises. They seemed to be unaware that no developed world signatory is doing so at the moment and, under the agreement, India and China are able to build 450 Huntly sized coal-fired power stations.

“They said that the government had a policy of ‘decarbonisation’ and they had to go along with it. When I suggested that as technological experts they had an ethical obligation to protect the welfare of the public and so must provide the government with the information it needed to evaluate different policies, their response was, in effect, that if the government has decided on an obviously stupid policy, they should pretend that it was sensible.”

One of the keynote speakers at the conference was the Chief Executive of Transpower, who discussed a new report they had produced outlining the role they will play, as owners and operators of the National Grid, in decarbonising New Zealand’s economy.

They claim that as a result of climate change, we will experience more extreme weather events, sea-level increases, and material changes to weather patterns. They outline how the future could involve climate change refugees, financial crises, and global conflict, with one of the scenarios they present predicting that from 2030, our economy will shrink by 3 percent per year.  

Transpower implies that unless New Zealand reduces its fossil fuel emissions, climate disaster is inevitable, and they predict power generation will change dramatically. In 2015, 21 percent of our electricity supplies were generated from coal and gas, 55 percent from hydro, 17 percent from geothermal, 5 percent from wind, and 2 percent from other sources. By 2050, they expect 32 percent of power generation will come from hydro, 20 percent from geothermal, 24 percent from wind, 23 percent from solar, and 1 percent from other renewable sources.

They say electricity usage will double by 2050, and, with 85 percent of New Zealanders converting to electric vehicles, they anticipate that many of their batteries will be connected to the national grid and will be able to be used to supply extra energy during times of peak consumer demand. The report also assumes that wind and solar energy will not only become reliable, but also more affordable.

Under their scenario, from 2040, there would be no fossil fuel backup generators at all for those winters where it is cloudy, windless and dry. This would potentially leave the country vulnerable to escalating power prices and blackouts.

In light of a survey just published by the Salvation Army, which found almost a half of New Zealanders have gone without some home heating this winter due to our high electricity prices, once affordable coal and gas generation is closed down and replaced by the vastly more expensive and intermittent wind and solar power generation, the situation could become quite untenable. 

In spite Transpower’s claims that their report provides “independent, high-quality analysis” to help inform policy decisions about New Zealand’s future power system, there is no mention of the cost that this conversion to 100 percent renewable energy generation would have on the price that consumers pay for electricity. This is a very serious omission for a paper that claims to be presenting policy advice to the Government.

As a matter of course, State sector agencies should be required to tell the truth, because, no matter how unpalatable the truth might be to a government, it still needs to underpin responsible public policy decisions. 

So rather than being a cheerleader for the government’s proposed decarbonisation agenda, Transpower should have taken a more critical approach in their report and provided in-depth analysis and costings, based on the best evidence available.

Because, while it’s easy for politicians in government to have bold policy ambitions, in reality, if the cost to the economy and voters is too great to be viable, then they need to be made aware of that fact – and sooner, rather than later.

Meanwhile, a group of 60 major industries – including Transpower – has clubbed together to pledge, that as “good corporate citizens”, they too will do all they can to fight climate change. “On a mission to reduce emissions in Aotearoa, the group of 60 CEOs have formed the Climate Leaders Coalition, which recognises the role that business can play in bringing about change”.

These New Zealand businesses have pledged to not only reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but to hold themselves publicly accountable by setting targets and providing progress reports in the same way that they report on their finances.

I doubt that the  Directors and management teams of these 60 companies are personally as committed to reducing emissions in Aotearoa as their mission statement suggests. In reality, like the electrical engineers and Transpower, they have probably decided that it’s easier, and more profitable, to swim with the political tide rather than against it.

However, surely it’s time there was more honesty in the way public policy issues are debated in New Zealand, especially from those who stand on pedestals and parrot political mantras. And shouldn’t the media be asking more questions and challenging their motives, in their role as the Fourth Estate – or have they too found it’s easier to swim with the tide of political opinion? 


Do you believe there should be more honesty in the way public policy issues are debated, or do you think things are OK as they are?


*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.


Click to view x 120


Ha, we have a Labour Government, enough said. Athol
We need to be governed by people who live in the real world, not some virtual fantasy. Where are they, those leaders who aren’t trying to build memorials for themselves but have the common sense to recognise what is possible and effective rather than ” I had a dream”. Mike
However, honesty doesn’t happen by magic. More honesty implies finding a way to reward more honesty – or at least make it safer. Steve
The political shambles that NZ finds it self in is a result of a complete lack of considered intelligent discussion around the policy platforms offered by political parties. James
These ceo are just singing the current governments tune and are totality dishonest as their saleries are more important than the truth. The same goes for the media which are two faced and promote anything that is unnatural and the stright person is not normal.Ihave just recently cancelled my herald subsciption and when asked why i said they were so left and critical of those who do not follow their views plus their comments on the President of the United States is distastful. If they were in the Philpennes and made their views felt they would be dead. Ken
Thr ratz artz need to learn the meaning of the words consultation openness transparency honesty and accountability. ROB
More honesty less crap John
NZ is very corrupt Dave
It’s all smoke and mirrors. Alan
Journalism is dead in this country and TV media are extremely dishonest; they get their American & overseas news from the lowest ranked cable channel – CNN. I watch Fox news channel and they have fierce debates over everything.. I am embarrassed with NZ’s total lack of democracy with Maori, communist and green ideologies. We need Trump TRUTH. I hope the TV1 political programme bombs going to Sunday night. Monica
I cannot believe these idiots climbing on the dopey zero emissions bandwagon. You only have to look at the disastrous policies of South Australia to see what happens. Highest power prices in the world and blackouts and industry leaving. Bright eh? Murray
absolutely more honesty and banish political correctness which prevents people saying how they really feel about issues. Dene
Open honest debate can only be good for everyone, even if you don’t agree. It’s amazing how so few people can make decisions they believe is the very best for all. I think it’s called a dictatorship…which NZ isdangerously coming, at least we are nearly there. Mayor Goff is certainly in that category. We need open discussion on issues and referendums as necessary as our population has become so divided by culture, religion and countless other beliefs. Who would have thought that a political party who got the most of the votes not able to govern, but handed to a lot of wannabes, through the hands of one man. How is it working for us..more dissent and strikes proposed than ever..go figure. Audrey
Really need more honesty. Also less race based decisions. We are one people after all. June
It is far easier to go with what the Government wants to hear than to tell them the truth especially if your job depends on income provided by the state. Especially if some person high up in government decides to cut the funding for your organisation or you could get sacked from your position in a government department. Courage could mean big sacrifices for you and your family. Colin
There is the well known story about the emperor’s new clothes. Political correctness goes hand in hand with dumbing down. Reality is under siege. The problem is that if enough idiots believe something which isn’t true then in some way it sort of becomes true. Fuelled by stupid political correctness and it’s half-truths, New Zealand society is charging full pelt to the edge of the cliff. At the bottom of the cliff lie the hard rocks of reality. Crash, bang, wallop, ouch. Who is going to get hurt? We all are. Bob
Many of the politically appointed CEO’s are weak yes men or worse, one eyed lefties. Richard
Anything else is unacceptable. Martin
We live in Hope that this will at least partially happen in the future. Geoff
the policies should be more realistic claire
The electric supply companies can’t even supply a guaranteed supply at present, so without some honesty they will never be able to cope with the increased demand from heat pumps and electric vehicles. John
Amazing how lies, if distorted enough , will be believed as being the truth Neville
Your article is so profound. I agree totally. Catherine
its all about the money. follow that to show who is prepared to sell their soul. people in government have no common sense and even less concern for the future of the country. Sam
The existing labour Government coupled to the Greens , appears to be in a complete shambles – all of them going around in circles and wasting millions of taxpayer money !! Pierre
These so-called “good corporate citizens” show their true colours when as presumably a non-maori organisation they refer to New Zealand as Aotearoa. I presume that they, along with many others of their ilk desire a name change for New Zealand with no discussion much less a referendum on the issue. John
This is the same for a lot of government departments, journalists, professionals etc. Tell the truth .. stop telling people what they want to hear or what they believe will keep them in the good books of whoever the particular interest group is. Maddi
We are like sheep to the slaughter in this country Peter
I have just spent two months traveling around Europe on a Trafalgar Coach Tour & a month in England. I have returned to NZ with a greater appreciation hat is no party that I trust to represent my conservative world-view. I feel very frustrated! Cyril
Lies and corruption are rife. New Zealand is a very dangerous position by way of all the reasons stated by Muriel. It is said that if you tell someone a lie often enough, they end up believing g that it is true. Welcome to New Zealand and the world. Why do you tbi kthe US President is under so much criticism. He has dared to speak the truth. Neil
Yes need more honesty in public policy. We are met to have freedom. So be more honest. Robert
Public policy issues are just that — ie they are PUBLIC and all issues should be transparent. Alan
Like the Judicial System, Politics is a game but only a few are able to play. The rest must take the result and live by it. David
Some hope! Politicians know, only too well, that most people are either too stupid and /or lazy to think for themselves: they will passively accept whatever is put before them. H L Mencken summed it up as this: “No one in this world, so far as I know – and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me – has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.” He wrote this nearly a hundred years ago. What’s new? Graham
More transparency. Sheena
You only have to watch Q A the panelists that they have on are mostly lefties. Carol
When honesty is put forward there is always a back lash. Possibly honesty is not always PC. but get over the PC good people it doesn’t help fix anything. Elizabeth
The left are happy to ignore anything that does not fit in with their view of the world. Ostriches! Mark
Honesty in NZ politics; YEAH RIGHT! A whole dumb-down generation will ensure that what NANNY STATE wants, nanny state will get. Interesting that Obama is singing the praises of a now Zimbabwe like government in South Africa, while Trump has achieved the lowest Black American unemployment ever recorded, by reversing the crazy left-wing policies of the previous U.S. government. A.G.R.
Trump is crazy sometimes but he is saying things that are based on core truths over a wide range of subjects, the fake news and fake political groups are against him, it seems that “in your face truth” upsets a lot of people in positions of power, lets hope he does not end up like JFK. Mark
Ignoring the Kings invisible clothes situation has become endemic & we should be clamouring to be heard over their white noise. Nick
You either stand for something or you fall for everything Gary
Well stated! Honesty and truth should be the benchmark of issues like these. But I doubt any of our leaders has the spine. Most big businesses are slurping out of the same trough. Unforgivable! Robert
We have liars damned lairs, politicians and their advisors Arthur
In all subjects there should always be absolute truth. Wayne
The PC brigade and the green party are hell bent on trying to get the country carbon free by 2050. It will never happen, A pipe dream created by The UN who should be disbanded as they are so toothless and out of date with reality. As so IS DOC ? Trying to convince New Zealanders that they want the NZ Native bush predator free by 2020 and are killing all the NZ Wildlife, Native birds with 1080 Poison and polluting all our fresh water rivers, creeks while they are at it. Disgraceful and disgusting. Wayne
What a question ?? Of course there should be only Honesty from the Politicians, and not so much political Spin ( Bullshit is a better word ) Pierre
Putting honesty and politics in the same sentence would be the worlds greatest oxymoron, the chance any of our pollies would be honest and upfront are almost zero, and as for the media….well nuff said, they are the greatest threat to NZ, full of left wing loonies that wouldn’t recognize a fact if it bit them on the arse. Stevo
End lying by omission… Neil
Censorship is a dangerous tool for the suppression of hate speech. Just as a gun can be used as a method of defense then also can it be used for aggression. Richard
We need more objective truthful information provided to governments and local governments on policies they espouse. Keith
Too much spin on most things Gareth
Honesty in telling the government how things really are is the only way to achieve effective results. Jill
Why do they need advisers, isn’t that why they employ trained people to do the actual work Murray
At present we have nothing short of apartheid Bryan
While these pollsters say YES, these comments need to be made public so all kiwis can be made aware of what is actually happening in their own country. William
Incredibly sad that we have to even consider the dire state of misinformation and even dishonesty Laurie
All we get is propaganda, NWO/party first, us a good last, in other words, say 12 laps down if racing at Bathurst…. Wayne
I suspect that the editors of our principal media all kowtow to the political line and carefully refuse to publish anything that questions this, let alone promote or publish any real investigative journalism. The one exception I know of is SunLive here in Tauranga. Alan
Politicians of any ilk are trained liars and deceivers to any fool that wants to listen. IAN
It seems that moral courage is also being degraded. Remember the good old days where people were allowed to speak the truth! Jim
Facts are being ignored in favour of unverified ‘models’ and opinion tweaked to allow whatever those in power feel that they want to hear, or that they think will win votes. Increasingly there is no understanding of what the scientific method actually entail, namely testing of hypotheses. Particularly for the younger generations, feelings have become overwhelmingly more important than logic, which will inevitably lead to disaster. Sorry, but wishing won’t make it so! Gail
On traditional media, there are no readily available truthful sources. Howard
Fake news and Fake History are rife . David
Vocal minorities hold more sway now due to lack of transparent debate than at any time in the 60 years l have followed politics Peter
More accountability as well -sack a few more: Mike
Our so-called independent premiere radio station RNZ National (aka Radio Labour) is a manifestation of the demise of balanced political comment and reporting. Fake and misinformed “news” just confuses any debate, and raises further doubts about the ethics some within the 4th estate. Truth is the victim of course. Andrew
It would certainly be fantastic to see more honesty and transparency in all areas of policy development. However this is unlikely to happen while our government and industry leaders so successfully fulfill their roles as the “useful idiots” of the Marxist left who are hellbent of destroying our country. Steve
Not just more honesty but more debate where MSM actually report all sides of the issues and not just what they want us to hear. Roger
Public political issues can only debated with honesty if the participants in this debate are properly educated and factually informed on the subject they are about to discuss. These requirements are obviously missing. Slogans and half witted truths are relentlessly thrown into any public debate these days and help to confuse and fragmentise . All media — and that includes all public media like FB and their ilk– are instrumental to this global campaign of psychological warfare on the mind. There is not a single day going by where one-for example- does not hear the word climate change- say -on Radio NZ. If repeated often enough, it will mould peoples perception to the point where they will accept this ( literally) as gospel and ultimate truth. The fact that we are dealing with an vast army of internet trolls out there to attack any criticism or facts contrary to what they accept as true information. What is happening online on a enormous scale is starting to spill over into the physical world where protesters and critics are physically threatened and even attacked by red green zealots. These violent foot soldiers are only instruments in the hands of the organizers of the NWO to erase any opposition wherever it can be found. Michael
In America at the moment – Most things seem to be booming – even a Detroitian I’ve just spoken with (having gone through their historical depression) said “We are clawing back up again in a new political world.” Many are rebuking the political climate change drivers. How long will it be before more of New Zealand wakes up? Stuart
One good example is the banning of efficient woodburners to heat homes. The science behind this stance has not been able to stand up and justify this ridiculous situation but the Government chooses to accept dishonest advice and keep its head in the sand!! Nev
60 companies being publicly accountable, what a joke, just like this poor excuse of a government. Chris
Do not leave it to so called experts unless you want a bad ending Barry
Just know what is going on Gerard
It is obvious people are speaking about policy in a political manner, not telling the objective truth, for fear of speaking against the current mood of accepted liberal “facts”. Gina
I believe that any Govt employee including MPs should be brought before the court if it is shown that they have lied in the process of their employment. Rob
It is better to know the facts and deal with them than just sweep things under the carpet for the next generation Cherryl
It seems to have got worse under this coalition Government Mike
The media should be encouraged to report the opinion of a cross section of advisors so that the public get a balanced veiw.This should be forced upon Politicians as many have their own agenda Carl
The leaders of industry have no backbone any longer and don’t want to create ripples in the pond, they are frightened of being not PC Colin
If our politician are too stupid to see that a report has no value unless built upon a solid foundation of realism, the situation is hopeless. From where I am sitting,I see worldwide a couple of billion brainless non-productive zombies masquerading as humans taking up space and squandering resources. We have more than our fair share of such in NZ.Getting rid of them would go a long way to reducing our carbon footprint.This would make no difference to climate changes but would make our lives considerably easier. Charles
Definitely – the problems reported seemingly honestly in Germany, sees them having to go back to coal. Wind and solar have not provided as the greens had promised. Maurice
They all feel they need to agree with the government or will miss out on the next funding round, to the detriment of NZ population Michael
There has never been honesty particularly in politics so why the concern . History shows us time and again what a lot of b****hit our politicians have fed us over the centuries .My biggest concern is how the minority pressure groups have been able to hijack the NZ news , particularly the NZ Herald and Stuff .Look at the endless amount of articles that appear about our wonderful part Maoris , TeReo being a classic example , it is sickening . Then we have the gays . Look at the wedding cake saga , it went on and on . Jock
“HONESTY ” is for sure a lonely word. We are all to ‘gutless to use it more often… CHowes
And I’m certainly over hearing about the “9 years of neglect” John
Unfortunately in politics honesty is often a missing but vital ingredient. David
Political spin is commonplace Collin
The trickle down theory has entered socialism. The elite now trickle down their half backed academic ideologies and untested market theories, mostly reject communist diktats of the UN, and the hapless local economy is supposed to soak up this bile. CEOs may appear to swim with the tide, may even make a splash of it, but most are merely treading water while the survey the scene for any business that is drowning, sizing up the opportunity to employ their sinking fund (to sink the blighter). An indication of the fatal flaws rendering Transpowers Report meaningless, they estimate a growth to 23% in windpower, show me the location where Windpower is consented and approved for that growth, Hmmm Windpower is as moribund under the RMA as is Hydropower thanks to the idiot ideology of the greens. Any bright year eleven kid could tell you that, but its fooled sixty CEOs and Transpower’s Board, what token numpties. Car batteries barely bigger than a lunchbox, supplementing the National grid, I think they have taken the Koolaid, this is the stuff of year nine science fair. either that or a Genter policy. farcical. Besides by then all the SJW will be riding bicycles occasioned by their own self induced poverty. A Comedy of Errors, but as in Shakespeare not a comedy when it is a tragedy. Richard
While I totally agree that there should be honesty in the way policy issues are debated, noting that it also includes retaining freedom of speech for everyone, irrespective of their views, and remembering that one person’s myth is another person’s reality. Climate change is a good example which, in my opinion, is a reality John
Transparency and accountability Tungane
Honesty in a political debate? Now there’s an innovative proposition! Of course there should be more openness and honesty, but everyone is too busy protecting their backs.  Andrew
Yes. But I suspect state servants are afraid of the consequences of not backing government policy no matter how stupid it is.   Murray
If you speak the truth on social media the trolls attack you something terrible. It’s easier just to keep quiet. Paul
Since Labour has been the government it’s like there is a mass propaganda campaign on the go. Everyone is scared of crossing them – like those 60 business leaders. Where the heck has their courage gone! Jenny
Yes, professionals and state servants – who are meant to be ‘independent’ – especially should be prepared to provide honest and frank opinions on which to base policy decisions.   Don