New generation of ‘never smokers’ emerges


NZ Herald   reported today that youth smoking rates have dropped by a third in the last year, as a new generation of “never-smokers” emerges, Ministry of Health figures reveal.

The figures showed the number of 15 to 17-year-olds smoking fell from 12,000 last year to 8000 – meaning 3.9 per cent of those in the age group are smokers. A decade ago 35,000 people aged 15 to 17 had taken up the habit.





Early attachment vital for adult well being – let’s encourage it!

parents image

Children do better when parents have time to parent them. We need to reform our economic system to support healthy families and whanau.

Brainwave Trust continues it’s great research on the importance of early attachment for brain development and healthy well being in adulthood. If parents having time with children is so important – especially during the first years of a child’s life – then why do we have an economic system that continually promotes longer working hours, low wages and increasing housing costs? It’s time to look seriously at a Universal Basic Income.  Political leaders over many years such as Bruce Beetham in the 1970s and more recently Gareth Morgan have argued that a UBI would promote better social and economic outcomes.

As technology continues to advance, at an ever increasing rate, then policymakers will be forced to bring in a new system that distributes purchasing power by some other means than the wage system. Without such a reform the system will collapse under the weight of goods and services that most people cannot afford to buy.  As importantly, if income is no longer tied exclusively to wages then it would allow more time for parents to parent and for people to strengthen families and whanau – the building blocks of a healthy society.




Election fever broken: patient recovering

The election campaign is over. The constant barrage of social media posts, TV, radio and newspaper party political advertising have now ceased leaving a surreal calm across the body politic.  
The voters have given their verdict . Even with help from the Greens the “centre-left” parties ended election night six seats behind National (52 v 58 seats).  Effectively the “centre right” bloc ceased to exist – with the removal of both United Future and the Maori Party from Parliament). TOP also could not climb over the 5% threshold – despite backing from one of New Zealand’s wealthiest men. How other small parties are supposed to get into Parliament is anybody’s guess.  National now stands alone, apart from the libertarian oddity that is ACT in Epsom where an electoral hand out has enabled it to survive. It seems doubtful that National will want to keep the charade of an independent ACT party alive in 2020 when it couldnt muster 1% of the party vote and has now proved sufficient embarrassment that Bill English has been forced to rule them out of any role in government in order to woo NZ First. 

For National, Bill English’s hard-work on the campaign trail paid off big time. He led National to one of its best electoral performances ever. National’s move to the centre since 2008 again reaped electoral dividends.  Bill English can take pride in that accomplishment. The Labour Party has now lost four consecutive elections. However, Jacinda Ardern has reinvigorated the party and dragged it upwards towards a vote percentage above 30%. Labour’s “clever” ploy, to delay publishing its intentions on tax, turned out to be too clever by half and backfired badly. Labour was forced to backtrack and ensure that it would not change tax arrangements without first putting its plans to the public via an election. In the process it appeared at best non-transparent and at worst sneaky – the exact opposite of the attractive qualities of brand Ardern. 

Both major parties framed the election as a “drag-race” between the two major parties. The pressure meant that all small parties suffered. Only NZ First and the Greens survived what turned into the 2017 bloodbath of MMP parties. 

Where to from here? Given the Green Party’s ideological aversion to anything non-socialist it seems unlikely that the party will be able to even contemplate negotiating with the National Party. Ironically the real victim of such intransigence is likely to be the environment.  Given the ambitions of the Labour Party caucus for a turn at power in 2020 there is almost no chance of a National-Labour grand coalition.  That leaves NZ First as the sole, willing partner in a negotiated settlement for stable government over the next three years. Who will NZ First go with? That is up to NZ First. But either way the kiwi battlers seem likely to gain.  A National-NZ First government is likely to constrain any residual hankering in National’s ranks to taking the chainsaw to the welfare state.  Similarly, a Labour-NZ First government seems likely to constrain some of the unpopular “identity politics” that Labour’s Left has a propensity to promote from time to time. 

Either way the wider economic and social interests of the country will have to be addressed – continuing sustained economic growth, improving productivity and wage growth, taking the pressure off housing, the lack of R&D investment and a plan to achieve, or better, our Paris Climate Change commitments within the timeframe. The clock is ticking. 

Decision 2017

Trying to work out who to vote for?  

Here are some of the guidelines that I’m using. 

Does the party promote life – including life for unborn children,  the sick and the elderly?  

Does the party promote freedom and responsibility? 

Does the party recognise and work towards honouring the Treaty of Waitangi? 

Does the party allow a multicultural New Zealand or is it prejudiced against migrants from different backgrounds?  

Does the party promote a safe society for all?  Will it keep citizens safe and rehabilitate people who really shouldnt be in prison?  

Does the party have a clear plan to combat climate change and clean up our waterways and streams?  

Does the party promote a fair tax structure that will help social cohesion?  

Does the party have a plan to improve Mental health and to urgently address the wellbeing of young people?  Especially young men?  

Does the party have a plan to house all of our population in warm, dry and safe homes?  

What’s their track record?  Do they do what they say they will do?  

Finally,  does the party promote social cohesion and a positive, just vision of the future?  

Rising profits and stagnant wages do not a good mix make 

DSC_0246This morning’s Dominion Post contains a small item buried on page 10 of section c which shows continued stagnation of wage growth compared to profit growth. This has been going on for 8 years.

It’s not sustainable. Healthy economies need healthy income flows distributed across the population in order to allow universal participation.

A continuation of the status quo is not an option if we want a healthy and hopefull New Zealand in the future.

Congratulations to the Dominion Post for reporting this story but perhaps it deserved more prominence?



Latest opinion polls show election too close to call

A lot has happened since July, but for this is how things stood at the end of July with Labour’s low polling leading to the demise of Andrew Little, and then in early August the Greens’ poll drop leading to the demise of Metiria Turei. Never let it be said polls don’t have a real…

via Public Polls July 2017 — Kiwiblog