Chinese warned against visiting New Zealand


The Chinese New Year holiday is in progress, with Chinese tourists streaming in all directions, visiting nations across the world. With about two weeks left before most of them return to their daily routines in China, it is a busy time for the tourism, rental car, hospitality and airline sectors as well as individual tourist attractions.

New Zealand for the most part has not been an exception. Just as in previous years, the wave of tourists radiating across the globe from China has reached New Zealand no problems. However thanks to concerns by Chinese officials about New Zealand’s stance on the case of Huawei being denied the right to supply 5G broadband equipment, it is suspected that China does not want its citizens visiting New Zealand.

This has led to what appears to be a dip in tourist numbers coming from the Peoples Republic. Business in the sectors linked to tourism have been reporting steady traffic rather than the normal high level of activity.

Chinese Government officials are thought to have warned their citizens against visiting other countries, and New Zealand is not an exception. In order to maintain control and not let Chinese develop a view of the west that is not favourable to their authoritarian overlords in Beijing, an element of concern or distrust is deliberately injected into government broadcasts. Due to the lack of information in China other than what comes through official sources, Chinese do not get the diverse array of general information and news that western countries are able to tap into.

Not surprisingly, for fear of causing economic damage, National and A.C.T. are trying to claim that this is causing Sino-Kiwi relations undue stress. They ignore though the fact that National has an M.P. who trained in the Chinese military to be an intelligence officer. Jian Yang who entered Parliament. They also ignore the considerable environmental impact that tourism is having on New Zealand and that maintaining a clean sustainable environment is high on the agenda of many people.

Increasingly New Zealand is finding itself no longer able to sit on the fence regarding Chinese activity. Some would argue that the same can be said for American activity (which is beyond the scope of this article). Contrary to popular opinion China is not our friend, and we need to keep Beijing’s foreign policy in mind when we consider how to try to get the best out of the dragon without unduly upsetting the bald eagle.

Ultimately though New Zealand needs to strike out on its own direction. Politicians need to start seeing the global footprint of China and our contribution to its rapid – and unsustainable – growth. Contrary to the simplistic left-right analysis of political thought most commonly used, New Zealand is capable of forming its own.

 

Insectageddon can be avoided: But does human kind have the will power?


Earlier this week I alluded to the large scale extinction of insect species around the world and the consequences for human kind if this is allowed to continue. After 48 hours and some reflection, I see a window of time in which this could be thwarted, but like a real window, this one has a clearly defined frame outside of which it will be too late.

Whilst insectageddon – the name given for the mass extinction of insect species currently in progress – has terminal consequences for human kind, that is not to say the demise of humanity is imminent, though that is an eventual certainty. Humanity’s survival is dependent on radical action to protect the global biosphere, starting as fast as we can.

Humans created this catastrophe, just as we made possible the massive and on going large scale destruction of the biosphere. And at the same time the solutions to this and insectageddon are of human manufacture as well.

The real question is will power, and whether moneyed up interests can be put aside for what is – irrespective of social status, wealth, nationality or any other common denominator – a problem that affects quite literally every single person on this planet. We all need the biosphere to enable what my Year 9 science teacher said is M.R.S. G.R.E.N.

M(ovement) R(espiration) S(ensitivity) G(rowth) R(eproduction) E(xcretion) N(utrition)

All living things do it. All of us excrete. Somehow that all needs to be broken down, consumed and not left to contaminate the biophysical environment around it. Among the important crawlies that assist in this matter are dung beetles, which are pretty much world wide except for Antarctica.

Not all of the work saving our insects and their place in the food chain will be done by insects themselves. Human kind can contribute massively to this by changing how they do pest control on crops, stop the large scale deforestation for development of farm land. It is more simple than one thinks. Alternative sprays and other pest control agents to those proposed by agrichemical companies such as Monsanto are easy to devise. Another is to put honey bee hives in your back yard so that they can continue pollinating plants.

There will need to be a political sea change in thinking. Before one can have human activity, the humans must be well enough to do things. Before one can have human beings, there must be a biosphere that can support them. And before that biosphere can exist, there must be insects to pollinate our plants, clean up our excretement – who knew the dung beetle was such an important creature? – and so on. But do we have the will power to make that change?

The clock is ticking.

The research that has sparked concerns that the insect population might be wiped out is not new either. It was first suggested in 2017 that, based on prolonged decline of all species types, in the last 25 years in Germany, that ecological armageddon could be a thing in the near future.

But the interest in it becomes more serious knowing now that the demise of so much insect live will have catastrophic impacts on the entire food chain, with insect eating species such as spiders and fish being next.

 

End of the humble insect?


Yesterday I saw something truly terrifying on the news about insects. The humble six legged friend, nuisance, pest in all its many forms is in mortal danger and we not so humble human beings are playing a leading role in insectageddon.

The implications of this for ecology, for the planet and for humans is difficult to over estimate. Insects perform so many tasks that we simply do not recognize or understand. No doubt in cruder conversations you have probably heard the phrase “eat crap”. Insects eat that so humans and other species do not have to.

It is funny and yet sad that on one hand we have figured out how to use weapons to annihilate the human population and an awful lot more within a matter of hours – my extremely crude estimate of how long W.W.3 would last once the missiles start getting airborne – yet so many simple yet fundamental to the existence of the ecological system are not understood. Or they are understood, but the supposedly smartest species on the planet elected to ignore that understanding. Whatever the case the consequences are alarming in a way that climate change, whilst disturbing simply does not match.

We wipe out billions of insects each year. We have pesticides to control aphids, and other damaging insects. We have fly spray that we use on flies, wasps and an encyclopaedia range of others around our homes. We have invested millions in ensuring that cars, houses and so forth are bug free, using a variety of methods – repellent devices that plug into a wall socket, insect spray, netting on windows to stop them getting into the house.

The mayfly that you see buzzing around the river as you fish is no threat. Indeed its presence is used as an indicator for a healthy aquatic ecosystem, as they are prey for fish, beetles and other predators. The humble housefly that we kill millions of each summer, annoying as it may be and often is, important for the break down of nutrients in the natural environment. The cockroach, loathed by many and in popular culture as a disgusting creature has been depicted as being able to survive a nuclear war, are resilient and have a higher tolerance of radiation than do human beings.

But what if all of this and so much more is wiped out by human activity? Where does that leave the ecological system, the environment, and most importantly for human beings, humanity? What if I told you that 100% of all insect life could be dead in 100 years?

Well, that is I heard yesterday.

Doomsday much?

N.Z and Australia: Elephant in the room is immigration


New Zealand and Australia enjoy a unique relationship that few other countries can come close to matching. Whether it is in history or economic relations, foreign affairs or culture, the similarities are impressive. So how then did other nationalities come to have a direct path to Australian citizenship, but not us?

558,000 New Zealanders live in Australia, up from 345,000 in 2001. Due to the very close relationship between the two countries, New Zealanders only need to arrive in Australia on a valid passport and can live and work in Australia indefinitely.

There is one significant catch though. New Zealanders do not have access as a general rule to Australian citizenship, in that there is not a specific pathway to becoming an Australian in the same way that there is for other nationalities. And this is a significant sticking point in Australia-New Zealand diplomatic relations. Successive Australian Governments whilst referring to New Zealanders and New Zealand as family have made a deliberate case of maintaining a distance using immigration policy.

Contrast that with New Zealand which accepts Australians and offers them a path to New Zealand citizenship. 65,000 Australians live in New Zealand. The restrictions as we shall see on Australians receiving assistance from New Zealand health, education and social welfare are less than those for New Zealanders in Australia.

With 558,000 New Zealand nationals living in Australia, inevitably a few feature in the crime and other unsavoury statistics. Minor offending is not generally something that attracts the attention of Australian officials. However more serious offending such as assault, robbery, and serious ones such as murder are known to attract the attention of the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Protection Agency among others.

This is where things get dicey. New Zealanders entering Australia long term need to apply for a Special Category Visa. Following law changes in 2001 New Zealanders living long term in Australia wanting access to social, and other services can only receive restricted access after applying and being granted permanent residence through the migrants programme.

A few New Zealanders who moved to Australia when they were very young and have no connection to New Zealand whatsoever have found themselves being deported from Australia for criminal offending to a country where they know no one, have no knowledge of customs, laws or otherwise. They have no official record such as an Inland Revenue Department number, will not have an photo ID available or official statements such as bank statements or utility bills to provide evidence of living. And yet here they find themselves in a completely foreign land, where the only thing in common is that both countries speak English and drive on the left.

Perhaps it is time to re-examine the pathway to nowhere for New Zealanders – we enter Australia, we find our accommodation and get a job. We can set up a bank account and so forth without any problems and can come and go as we please. But the closest we can get to permanent residence or citizenship is the Special Category Visa. After all this time and the generosity we show to Australians living here is it not time for New Zealand to try to draw level?

Perhaps that is something for Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters to take up with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne.

Answering questions about becoming a Republic


As I watched coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh’s car crash I was reminded that this is a man who is in his late 90’s. I was also reminded that his wife, and New Zealand’s head of state Queen Elizabeth II is also over 90. With their great and advancing age, one must assume that they will be starting to wind down their official engagements.

And as they contemplate whether to, or how to wind down their engagements, New Zealand needs to be stepping up its national conversation about our constitutional arrangements once they depart.

I have never seen the need for a foreigner as New Zealand’s head of state. As a grown up nation that has a degree of civility lacking in many others, I believe New Zealand is more than capable of having its own head of state. However I know many people who do not believe New Zealand is ready to become a Republic, or that it is not needed or welcome.

I have mentioned my reasoning for a Republic, the process I believe would be necessary to achieve it and what it might look like in past articles. This article is more about addressing public concerns about how a Republic might look and function. This is part of the debate that is necessary to have in order to inform public opinion prior to any attempt at changing how New Zealand determines its Head of State.

What will happen to the Treaty of Waitangi and the settlements reached under a Republic?

Under a Republic, New Zealand will transfer responsibility for the Treaty of Waitangi from the Crown to the Head of State. The Treaty itself and the settlements reached with Iwi will not be affected in any way by this change. This is commonly acknowledged by the Monarchist League as well as the Republican Movement.

Will New Zealand be made to leave the Commonwealth should it become a Republic?

No. Most nations in the British Commonwealth are already Republics – India, Pakistan, South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, Nauru, to name just a few. There are 52 nations in the Commonwealth and 36 of them are Republics.

New Zealand’s heritage is British

This is a fortunately dying tunnel vision argument that ignores the fact that New Zealand is now a multicultural nation with large Pacific Island and Asian communities. Nothing about becoming a Republic will change our culture – we will still play cricket and aspire to one day win the Cricket World Cup; Queen’s English will still be the dominant language and New Zealanders will still be as welcome as they have ever been in the United Kingdom.

Should New Zealand become a Republic, what are the types of Republic?

There are several types of Republic. The one that New Zealand is physically closest to in terms of governance is the Parliamentary Republic. This type means that the President would largely be a figure head with mainly ceremonial but also constitutional powers – greeting Heads of Government and Heads of State, appointing and dismissing Cabinet members and – heaven forbid this happen – enact any necessary declaration of war on a foreign power.

A Presidential Republic is more like the United States, where the President has a large role in the day to day running of the Government and may make key foreign policy decisions. This is in addition to the ceremonial and constitutional roles as mentioned above.

There are other types of Republic including Semi-Presidential Republic, where the Head of State takes responsibility for foreign policy whilst the Head of Government looks after domestic policy. Examples include France and Taiwan.

Other types exist as well, but these are the three types New Zealand would be most likely to vote for a number of simple reasons. New Zealand is not Islamic so therefore we cannot have an Islamic Republic. The best known such example is the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Peoples Republic and Democratic Peoples Republic are typically aligned with Marxist-Leninist politics and with the exception of the Peoples Republic of China and Laos Peoples Democratic Republic, all have failed.

Republics are unstable, so why have one?

So are Monarch’s. Tonga, one of the worlds last Absolute Monarchy’s was plunged into devastating riots in 2006 as a result of widespread anger at the lack of democratic progress in the Government.

Swaziland (now Eswatini) is another. King Mswati III is well known for leading a luxurious lifestyle that is increasingly the cause of internal unrest, as well as international criticism. He holds all the powers of the state, as well as holding control over the legislature and the courts.