She'll Be Right!

Some thoughts and stories

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Dazzling with Pom-poms; a Cheerleader Fit for the Nation

A sincere, likeable personality innocently struggling to lead, but lacking the key skills?  Or cynically hawking a utopia she knows won’t happen tomorrow?In New Zealand, Prime Minister Ardern has garnered a popularity long missing from her Labour Party.  Plainly, she commands handy qualities to have generated that appeal around her support base. Continue reading


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Mass Media and Politics

  How can voters make tbeir choice?

In NZ it seems difficult to find a journalist without discernible bias. Continue reading

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The Budget; For the Poor as Much as For the Rich

There’s an easy tweak to help the very low paid.  Is Government up for it?

The Budget.  A theatrical spectacle performed seasonally.   Productions include publicity, previews, media build-up and eventually the final performance.  At every showing expect glitter, gloss and more spin than you’d get from a ballet academy. Continue reading

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Free Expression; Keeping Speech Free

Would freedom be a world where public policy repressed debate on officially taboo subjects?

Freedom of speech has been an established, fundamental human right championed internationally, even by the United Nations.  In New Zealand, freedom of expression has been valued and defended for generations.  So how could it be that in 2019, some propose this right should be limited? Continue reading

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The Extinction of Journalism in NZ

Slaves to ratings and advertising growth, it is all about entertainment. Do journalists truly care about balanced, complete and pertinent information?

First thing in the morning, ever looked down the average suburban street to count the freshly-rolled newspapers on the drives and doorsteps? An odd thing to do, but it does illustrate a stealthy change. News delivery contractors can cover their areas much quicker these days. It used to be that every household had papers delivered. Now you’ll see only two or three, thinly spread along the avenues. Continue reading

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The New Zealand Flag

Some folk in this country love fiddling with the bunting. Is it a sign of insecurity and confusion? Did, say, the USA ditch its Stars and Stripes in favour of some post-modern rendition? That’s old, just like the British Union Jack. So, for NZ, is it fashion? Or pride in tradition?

For New Zealand in 2014, the question of a flag makeover prompted bewildered disquiet. Surprisingly, the prospect of a new design was raised post election by the prime minister who proposed a flag referendum for 2015. Continue reading

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Struggling Left-Wing Needed Creative Intelligence

The 2014 General Election lifted the blanket that covered shortcomings in both Labour and the Greens. In 2018 the same problems remained, lying under a tarpaulin spread by an outwardly cocky facade.

The Labour Party and their de facto partner Green Party presented an intriguing puzzle amidst the confusion and conjecture following New Zealand’s 2014 general election. Was the election outcome a considered swing to the right or was it an involuntary swerve away from the left? Continue reading


Leadership and Public Office

Political leaders. What are the qualities and attributes we cherish?  What makes a great leader?  And what about bad?  It’s late 2014 and events have raised questions.

“Sack the leader!” they cry.

The labour Party had its tail kicked in the general election. The worst clipping in 90 years. Some are expressing their dissatisfaction. Like the dry ewe in the home paddock, that bloke was headed for the hook under the Macrocarpa tree out back. He’s dog tucker.

You couldn’t help feeling just a bit sorry for David Cunliffe, the Labour leader. After all, he was no outlaw. Maybe some might argue about his direction but he appeared to have worked hard for his party. Neither was the man untalented. It was hard to see what crime he’d committed. Despite this, the dogs needed to be fed.It raises the question about how we measure our leaders. In particular, what qualities define the ideal political chief? What gains our approval and what earns our disdain?

About a year ago, controversy surrounded another left-wing VIP. Freshly re-elected Mayor of Auckland City, Len Brown had to acknowledge a late-breaking scandal and publicly apologise to his wife and family after details had been headlined, disclosed and debated for some days in the media. Although shamed before all, derided by his critics, Len Brown survives as Mayor. Those who supported him claimed that he was good at his job. In this country, a man’s private life is his own business. It has nothing to do with work… Or does it?Political leaders need technical competency to do the day-to-day work but they also have a duty to effectively undertake the ‘figurehead’ side of their roles. This requires other qualities.

We’re in a sorry state if we nonchalantly believe that our public figures and high-profile officials can retain effective leadership when they have demonstrated a deficit of integrity, loyalty, honour and good character.   Do valued leadership qualities include the ability to double deal, misrepresent and conduct business on the same plain as a backyard second-hand car dealer?It is not the morals. The issue is personality, character, values and judgement. Known behaviour provides us with a window into personal qualities and personality profiles.

We yearn for leaders, public figures and celebrities who can be revered for their virtues. We need inspirational icons who embody all that we admire and value. In placing them on pedestals we expect impeccable character, truth, wisdom, exceptional judgement and dignified humility. These are our heroes. We give them pride of place, we rise in their presence, we grant them titles and we extend them all the courtesy and protocol that their positions command.How can anyone sincerely address muddied mayors or figureheads as “Your Worship”? How can one idolize a man whose notion of acceptable trust allows for long-term, chronic disloyalty towards partners? How can we respect any man so bereft of character that, in having sex at work, he obscenely desecrates the sanctity of official chambers and fails to recognise the implications of such actions upon the solemnity of the office he holds? How can one forgive a fall from grace when the figurehead lacks the courage to offer either a resignation or at least invite a vote of confidence?   How can we sincerely exhort our young to aspire to be like that office bearer? Do such people truly deserve the adulation of their office or title?

In Auckland a year on, Len Brown might be the one to hold the gavel. Sure, he has a casting vote and, supposedly, Auckland needs somewhere to store its mayoral regalia. But city leader, this man is not. His continued tenure disgraces the region and denies an opportunity for authentic leadership.It might be standard practice for such leaders to assume that in time the public will forget. Surely Labour and the left are better than that? So often the dubious generals appear to lack the character to do the right thing. They see only their ‘rights’.

It appals me that some folk deign to overlook the subterfuge, the misjudgement and the weak character, saying that affairs are private matters. Matters of character, virtue, trust, honour, decency and good judgement are central to leadership in the public arena. For Mayor, or any other public office, do we want a hero or will any old mongrel do? Your worship? Yeah, right.

October 2014

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Politics and the Mass-Media; Misplaced Trust

In 2014 – more than in any previous election – I felt ill-informed about my political choices.

As elections approach, the average voter watches for reliable information to help determine where best to put the tick. In New Zealand, political parties rely upon the media to communicate their policy. It’s a mistake. Today, they need to find better ways of getting the message to voters.  Why?  Because the media has gone to the dogs. Continue reading