Interview with Geoff Neal
Welcome back, we’re returning with Geoff Neal, who has been very, very insightful in creating these most incredible websites and transparency for the Government at Large. Now I’ll say at large because we have got a very large Government and they need to be more transparent about everything, even when they do say they are the most transparent government we’ve ever had. So Geoff, it’s really nice to have you back and we’re gonna be covering some pretty good issues today.
Thanks, MJ. I’m just a data geek. And you’re right, I’ve used it for business. And then I thought, well, hey, the biggest business in the country is the country. So why aren’t we using dashboards and KPIs better to measure how the country’s going? And look, to a large part we do. And with the election, we knew about inflation, cost of living. That’s very easy to measure that stuff. Housing issues, house prices, housing affordability, crime. We can measure a lot of these things, but the thing we’re going to talk about today is the thing that isn’t really measured, which is social unity or division, the opposite end of that. And I’m going to show you some data today, show you and the audience how it’s going.
I think that’s a really good place to start. I think that’s called transparency, isn’t it?
Yeah, radical transparency is our number one thing. If the platforms we do, the facts.nz and kpi.nz, their mission is to provide radical transparency. Transparency or honesty can lead to unity and unity can lead to prosperity. We believe they’re the hoops we need to jump through. But if we don’t have the data, if we don’t look at it, if we don’t talk facts, we’re not going to get anywhere as a country.
So I’ve gone right back to the start. This is fact number one. You can see here, number one, number two. So right back in 2021 when we launched this, we started to feel, and it took many months, if not a couple of years of thinking about this to launch it, but we started to feel like through those COVID days and even before that, there was a lot of things that weren’t heading in the right direction. We were not getting more united as a society, but we’re starting to be divided along a few different lines. Our first fact, which went really well, we talked about murder convictions going up.
A lot of that was the mosque shooting, but even take out the mosque shootings and murders were still up, murder convictions were still up 35%. Children lost 100 physical school days in Auckland alone. That creates massive problems for society. We had huge migration and we had 1 million population growth in less than 20 years leading up to that sort of Covid period. And that puts huge pressure on social infrastructure and social cohesion. And that’s in the media today.
28,000 net migrants, you have to add on 20,000 net births. That’s 148,000 more people coming to New Zealand, more Kiwis, 148,000 more Kiwis every year, needing 60,000 more houses. But actually, because a lot of houses are built from demolishing old ones, you have to build 72,000 houses, take off 20%, and you end up with 60,000. We don’t build anywhere near 72,000 new builds per year. We’re not even half of that at the moment, I don’t think. We might be close.
We have to talk about when we’re talking about society and cohesion, we have to talk about population too. Back here, our fact number four was there were more business deaths than startups for the first time in 12 years since the GFC and one of the saddest, I guess, KPIs and measures of how society’s going is suicides and that had gone up for males, gone down for females but had gone up for males when we measured it at the time. So this was late 2021, we launched in November 2021.
We were still in lockdown in Auckland, that 107-day lockdown that we all hated up here, and maybe the rest of the country didn’t quite understand how much, well, until the election results and they could see just how much the backlash, how strong the backlash was. But we had a protest up here, well, across the country, the Mother of All protests, organised by groundswell, a lot of it driven by the anger about Three Waters and more.
I’m no activist, or maybe I am actually an activist in a different way, but I’m no protester. I’ve never been to a protest in my life, but I’m a farmer’s son and I went with Dad, we went down Queen Street and we protested as part of the Mother of All Protests. And I created this diagram sort of shortly before it and got a lot of engagement online. I’m no artist, just like I’m no protester, but I felt like this is what was happening to the country. I felt like we were getting broken up and I called it the Great Divides or a few other nicknames that came up.
the best name for it. The divided states of New Zealand, New Zealand, Ru Zealand, New Zealand Fault Lines, the divided nations, the shaky isles, Aotearoa, Aroa.
The widening divides. And I put right at the top, the first thing at the time, it was vaccinated versus unvaccinated. That was the big division. We were promised there’ll be no vaccine mandates, then there was. And this was terrible for the country. And people, I’m double-vaxxed, but people who weren’t got vilified, described as the river of filth and other terms like this.
You know, I mean, I just want to make a comment on that. That division was just horrific, man. I’ve got to say, you know, the people who were unvaccinated were not even able to go and have a haircut. Just think about that. Not even allowed into some, even in some stores, they, you weren’t even allowed to have a life, really. You were completely excommunicated out of society. It was shocking.
Yeah, it was. We didn’t need to do it this way.
We were not getting more united as a society, but we’re starting to be divided along a few different lines. Our first fact, which went really well, we talked about murder convictions going up.