Saturday, February 20, 2021

Difference between Otago and Gisborne is one less child per woman

The falling Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was the subject of a report I wrote about 18 months ago. 

Now it's dropped even further. Statistics NZ describes it as, "NZ's lowest birth rate on record". 

But the regional variability is quite striking:

There are 1.38 births per woman in Otago versus 2.33 in Gisborne.

Higher fertility regions tend to correlate to higher Maori populations (the Maori birth rate remains higher than non-Maori).

But the four regions at the bottom of the rankings cover the four main cities where educated, career women reside.

The uniformly falling TFRs across the developed world are the result of women having choice (which is the result of freedom and prosperity).

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Percentage of women giving birth, by deprivation

 A graph for commentor  at Kiwiblog (sorry about the quality):

Percentage of women giving birth, by deprivation, 2009-2018

Quintile 5 = most deprived


Reversing the onus of proof

The Sexual Violence Legislation Bill continues its way through parliament.  Not everyone is onside with the law changes it seeks.

Noteworthy opinion today from Marie Dyhrberg QC :

... the bill crosses the line between assisting complainants and preventing accused men from effectively defending themselves. 

[The bill] states that consent to sexual intimacy must be given every time, which no-one disputes, but then stretches logic to say the jury cannot hear about intimate encounters the same couple had previously. With a rape allegation, when the sex is not denied, the trial turns on whether the defendant had reasonable grounds for believing the complainant consented. Where a couple are in a relationship, that belief may well depend on what had been usual and acceptable between them before.

If the belief was unreasonable, let the jury decide, which they cannot do if the defendant is banned from telling his side of the story... 

While it is true that some victims do not come forward because they fear the trial process,it is also true that innocent men get accused, sometimes for very vindictive or perverse reasons.

Other areas of the criminal law, like assault and fraud, have victims, including vulnerable ones. But we do not suggest that the conviction rate for these offences be unjustifiably or unlawfully bolstered by preventing accused persons from legitimately defending themselves with relevant evidence.

Defendants from lower income levels of society, and Māori and Pacific Island communities, already bear the brunt of the criminal justice system disproportionately to their numbers. The message that would go out to these defendants is that the system is being changed to make it easier to put innocent men in jail, because they cannot be effectively defended in the usual way.

Last year I blogged about Auckland Barrister Samira Taghavi and her response to the bill:

 "... as a defence lawyer, I feel compelled to explain the very damaging effects to those rights that the Sexual Violence (Legislation) Bill would inflict if enacted.

So what are fair trial rights? There are several, all protected in our Bill of Rights Act, and they include the right to be presumed innocent, the right to run an effective defence and the right to remain silent instead of having to help the prosecution prove your guilt. This bill would seriously violate each."

 The Auckland District Law Society says:

"...the major problem with this approach is this reverses the onus of proof. This attitude reflects a presumption of guilt and that all complainants are telling the truth when they allege sexual assaults. This has a major impact on defendants and the restrictions they face in the current jury trial process and would adversely affect fair trial process rights."

I  gather National and ACT are broadly in support, albeit it fighting a couple of clauses. 

Despite the many misgivings (more can be found at submissions) the bill has the numbers to pass into law.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

What a brazen bunch of hypocrites MPs are

What a brazen bunch of hypocrites MPs are.

Labour - unheralded in its 2020 election manifesto - is pushing through changes to Maori ward legislation with unconscionable speed. By the time I was aware of it and looking at the proposed changes, the deadline for submissions had passed.

Slippery Slope has just pointed out to me that in 2011 Grant Robertson was steaming over National pushing through law changes under urgency:

Labour MP Grant Robertson released figures on the use of urgency since 1999 which showed in its first two years National pushed 17 laws through without allowing public submissions - compared to the four or five each term when Labour was in government.

Urgency extends the sitting hours of Parliament, allowing the Government to get more legislation through. It allows a government to easily bypass the select committee process, where the public give views on law changes and MPs iron out problems in the bill... 

Mr Robertson said urgency was sometimes warranted, such as with the Christchurch earthquake legislation. However, it was being used excessively and on some controversial bills. One example of National bypassing the select committee process was the law change implementing national standards in schools - a controversial policy which could have benefited from expert submissions.

The Maori ward legislation is nothing if not controversial.

And as if making a defence in today's parliament, then acting Leader of the House Simon Power points out that in regard to bypassing select committees, "the Government had ensured that did not happen for significant constitutional issues, such as the Marine and Coastal Area Act and electoral finance reforms." (my emphasis)

Graham Adams has written a compelling  cut- through- the- BS piece here about how "The Minister of Local Government has struggled to make her case for a law change under urgency." 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Hype and hysteria doesn't help horses

 As an animal lover it distresses me to read reports like the following:

Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) are saddened but not surprised to learn of two horses who were killed and dumped on the beach on December 28 whilst the Tolaga Bay Races continued.

Spokesperson, Frances Baker said, "Right in front of the crowds eyes at this family event was the shocking and devastating reality of using horses to race, one whom broke both their legs and the other who had a heart attack. This happened whilst families cheered and betted on their lives."

"This is no different to the horses suffering on a regular basis on the racetrack, except that the beach races were not as prepared to hide the bodies with green screens and quickly drag them away. Heart attacks and fractures are common in racing."

She said, "After being shot in the head, those horses were not given the dignity they deserve and were left dumped on the beach without cover very close to the shore."

"NZTR had issued the betting licence for this event. Again, NZTR have blood on their hands. Deaths on and off track are common when using animals for entertainment."

I thought I'd seek a little more information about the event:

Mrs Jefferd said they had a team of highly-trained stewards, volunteers, horse wranglers and vets on board at the races, but sometimes these things happened.

“We have full procedures in place for our volunteers and people on the day. We had two vets on the day with one on call and they were the ones who make the call”.

Attending vet Bob Jackman said one horse collapsed and was unable to be moved without further suffering, while the second horse sustained fractures to both front legs.

“Events such as these are very uncommon, with only one other instance having occurred in the 35 years of my attendance.

“The overarching concern in these situations is that any animal suffering must be minimised, and after assessment of the animals and discussion with the owners, both horses were shot.”

Mr Jackman said these sort of incidents happen occasionally on any farms with horses and euthanising them promptly is standard practice.

The attending vet says these sort of events are very uncommon in direct contradiction of the spokesperson for CPR.

There is an element of risk to both horses and humans when it comes to racing. The humans of course participate voluntarily. For me it always comes back to the fact that most thoroughbreds (and standardbreds) would not exist if they weren't bred for racing. And contrary to what outsiders believe most people involved in the day-to-day training and care of these horses cherish them. They are the ones that hurt the most when one is lost in an accident.


Sunday, February 14, 2021

"New Zealand is not North Korea"

The following was brought to my attention and is very hard to argue with:

Extracted from the Feb 13 Economist's leading article, How well will vaccines work? :

For all these reasons, governments need to start planning for covid-19 as an endemic disease. Today they treat it as an emergency that will pass. To see how those ways of thinking differ, consider New Zealand, which has sought to be covid-free by bolting its doors against the world. In this way it has kept registered deaths down to just 25, but such a draconian policy makes no sense as a permanent defence: New Zealand is not North Korea. As vulnerable Kiwis are vaccinated, their country will come under growing pressure to open its borders—and hence to start to tolerate endemic covid-19 infections and deaths.

Across the world governments will have to work out when and how to switch from emergency measures to policies that are economically and socially sustainable indefinitely. The transition will be politically hard in places that have invested a lot in being covid-free. Nowhere more so than China, where vaccination is slow. The Communist Party has defined every case of covid-19 as unacceptable and wide circulation of the disease as a sign of the decadence of Western democracies.

While on the subject of the vaccine, I see all-knowing Alison Mau is taking her turn to have a crack at talkback radio today. The left having despatched with Banks and Plunket will now have their sights set on Peter Williams, so her attack comes as no surprise.

What does surprise is the constant characterisation of Sean Plunket as 'hard right'. He isn't. He's centrist politically. So is Peter Williams. They both believe in the role of the state in education, health, law and order albeit questioning the nature of the role and degree of intervention.

Williams spent quite a bit of time last week talking about the impending intention to vaccinate all New Zealanders, as is his right. People are entitled to discuss the vaccine, the ethics of being made to comply by employers, of needing to comply as a passport to travel. I've never had a flu jab so am wondering why I would have a covid jab. But soon it'll be forbidden to think aloud, let alone on a radio station.

Forget New Zealand's "draconian" covid response. It must surely strike the likes of Alison Mau, eventually, that shoving this country down a very slippery slope of snowballing intolerance risks reaching an endpoint which has more in common with North Korea than the free world.