Think local? Don’t be loopy. Follow the money

Minister of Local Government Paula Bennett often sounds like the minister against local government. Too much of this might play into Winston Peters’ hands. Bennett’s favourite phrase for councils has been “loopy rules”. A group under MP Jacqui Dean hunting … Continue reading

Party time for National but not all is tip-top

John Key will be celebrated this coming weekend. The National party owes him. In the corners and corridors of its conference, though, there will be some pondering. Things are not humming so well now. This is not a curtain call. … Continue reading

Time for some flag waving. But what flag?

Colin James’s Otago Daily Times column for 14 July 2015 It’s flag-waving time: Tim Groser off to Europe to wave our climate change flag; Greece waving the socialist flag; and the last chance to wave your own flag at John … Continue reading

Bill English, incremental radical

Bill English told Australians last month his style was “incremental radicalism”. Is this an oxymoron? First, some history. English was a new young MP in 1991 when Ruth Richardson plunged National into turmoil with her radical “mother of all budgets”. … Continue reading

The big and small ends of politics

It’s the big end of politics that matters to people. It is the small end of politics that is usually engaging. So with the past fortnight. At the small end have been Colin Craig and David Smol. At the big … Continue reading

Is NZ still actually a “good global citizen”?

A speech last Wednesday by Michael Woodhouse had a poignant relevance to a landmark conference at Otago University this weekend and New Zealand’s leading United Nations role in July. Woodhouse, who is Minister of Immigration, was marking world refugee day. … Continue reading

Reserve Bank to you: pay more for what you buy

The Reserve Bank last week joined the global pack. If the world’s big central banks are lax, what choice does Graeme Wheeler have in this tiny backwater? And Bill English has shown no interest in lightening his load. Back in … Continue reading

Global citizens in a world of disorder

Comments to the Wairarapa branch of the Institute of International Affairs, 9 June 2015 The world is in a disorderly phase. This is driven in part by geopolitical and geo-economic events, including the mass movement of people, and in part … Continue reading

The modern relevance of an 800-year-old charter

Sport is business. Business is money. Big sport is big money. World soccer bosses have been playing the game — just as “athletes” take drugs and cricketers help bettors. The payoff for the public is big circuses. And not many … Continue reading

A next-generation leader focused long-term

Kevin Hague typecast himself out of a future-maker role for the Greens when he called James Shaw a “metrosexual”, a word from a past era. Shaw said he was “not even sure what that means”. Shaw is 42. He is … Continue reading