Spiking small-Auckland

Colin James on super-Auckland for Metro Auckland September 2010

Auckland is small. Until it figures how small it is, it won’t get big. Maybe it doesn’t want to.
Auckland is small in three ways: in population compared with great cities around the world; in creativity and economic innovation compared with the great international centres; and in its lack of large spirit.

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Generating different leaders

Colin James for the Royal Society’s Kotuitui publication but not published when I refused to indemnify it against all conceivable legal and other challenges

Jon Johansson is a passionate man. He says so in the first sentence of The Politics of Possibility: “I love my country.” It’s an uncommon way for an academic to begin. His reason: “The first principle of any nation is its geography”. And this country is a village where, he says, politics is intimate and politicians accessible.
So Johansson sets out to describe our particular political topography and political flora and fauna. He mixes journalism into his academic inquiry: a Victoria University academic, Johansson relishes being a commentator in the old electronic media and in the evolving online version — and is a campaigning commentator, with some strong views (notably on the future republic) which he airs as an “instinctual centrist” with Aristotelian principles.

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Dishonour

It is inappropriate for any government, being composed of only some political parties, to offer a political journalist an honour (however disinterestedly intended) and it is improper for a political journalist to accept such an offer.

Making the future public services "public"

Colin James’s article in Public Sector April 2010

Governments in the rich world got big and bold in the twentieth century. They got even bigger in the first decade of the twenty-first, when banks collapsed. Where was the public in all this?
The public was of two minds.

When the public saw need or want, as individuals, as part of an interest group or in a fit of altruism, it demanded more government, to start or stop something or to expand a service or make it free of charge. That way we got “free” health care in the 1940s, universal superannuation at 65 in the 1990s and regulation heaped on builders, real estate agents and electricity companies in the 2000s.

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Moore contempt

From Michele Hewitson’s interview with Mike Moore, NZ Herald, 17 October 2009

Now, look, why does he [Mike Moore] always do this? He comes across as having a chip on his shoulder and he said, twice, that he did, a “working-class chip”.
I read a quote, from a Colin James review of one of his books, which noted this: “… the chip on the shoulder at not being taken seriously here at home by fellow-politicians, journalists and intellectuals …”

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Highway killers

Now I know why people get killed on Centennial Highway along the coast between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay north of Wellington, despite the facts that there is a 70km limit its entire length, that much of it is divided by a wire barrier and that the rest has double yellow lines separating two single carriageways. On my drive up to Taupo today (Saturday 27 October 2007) I was passed twice, first the way north and later on the way south, by cars going in the same direction as I was. The cars had to cross the double yellow lines to do that. I was doing around 70km on each occasion.

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A responsible(?) minister

Colin James, Random thought, 23 July 2007

A person in a minister’s office speaks for the minister. The minister is responsible for what that person says or does as a member of the minister’s office whether or not it is as at the minister’s specific bidding or with the minister’s knowledge.

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The criminal tort against victims

Colin James 22 July 2007

Quick thinking by National’s Simon Power forced a defeat of the government on 19 July on an ACT amendment to preserve victims’ right to attend and speak at parole hearings of their attackers. Losing this right would have compounded a serious constitutional error which we are only slowly addressing.
Originally an attack by one person on another causing harm, injury or death was treated as a tort — a wrong — between two people, much as a trespass would today. The wronged person could seek or enforce redress for the wrong.

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Opening the government — the Official Information Act in New Zealand

Colin James for The Australian on the Official Information Act, 4 October 2006

When the media find out that the New Zealand Treasury disagrees with the government, it is not front-page news any more. That’s one product of the New Zealand’s 24-year-old Official Information Act.
The act has made the government much more open which keeps it more on its toes. Moreover, “free and frank advice” from officials to ministers seems still largely to be alive and well even though some frank disagreement now reaches the media thanks to the act.

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Ten Prime Ministers

Colin James’s chapter for Political Science edition on leadership, December 2004

Prime Ministers make a difference. Much of the success or failure of a prime ministership is determined by factors outside the Prime Minster’s control: movements in the economy, social change, external shocks, the condition of the party or government they inherited, the makeup of Parliament. But the personality, psyche and preferences each brings to the role determines whether he or she makes the best or not of those factors.

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