Taking responsibility for your actions and avoiding bias

19:38, Nov 26 2012

Human nature is such that if a poll result agrees with your own views, then it must be correct. So when I read a headline that said "Confidence is on the rise", I felt guardedly optimistic. The ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence index rose by about 4 per cent last month.

It would be a pretty bland person who had no biases; so admit it, most of us do.

Although I am probably one of very few who can quote a Court of Appeal case stating that I am not biased and did not apply any apparent bias to a decision that brought the Hamilton Sky Casino into being.

Now it's all history and happened more than 12 years ago, but the written judgment is still one of my treasured possessions.

I quote from the case number cal 13/00, December 19, 2000; Judgment of the Court of Appeal delivered by Justice Gault and his fellow four sitting members.

Justice Fisher, in the High Court sitting in Hamilton, had set aside the decision of the Casino Control Authority, of which I was a member.


We had granted a casino premises licence to Riverside Casino Ltd.

The High Court decision of Justice Fisher relied on the determination that one member of the authority, Michael Cox, was disqualified for apparent bias.

Oh joy, oh joy, when, three months later, I read the following from Justice Gault's Court of Appeal findings, that "we do not find any consistent pattern of intervention pointing to a closed mind [by M.Cox]. Rather we have gained the impression of an experienced member of the Authority bringing to the public sittings considerable experience in the field and a familiarity with the written material . . . he showed particular interest in local social circumstances . . . he participated actively throughout and, when corrected, he readily acknowledged error . . . the order [of Justice Fisher] setting aside the decision on the grounds set out must be quashed".

What a lovely word "quashed"! The said casino is now part of our infrastructure, providing thousands of jobs for Hamiltonians in the past decade.

And by the way, as an aside, let me now offer my apologies for any clumsy words I may have used in my recent Opinion article about the young Pakistani girl Malala.

I meant neither harm nor mischief and felt the words of Anjum Rahman from the Hamilton Ethnic Women's Centre, in response, were well written and apposite.

I am guided, nevertheless, by that appropriate quote from Edmund Burke, member of the House of Commons and a man of letters from the late 18th century, when he said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

But now let me return to the good news about ours and the worlds' confidence in our economy.

I've noticed that good reporters always try to obtain at least two pieces of collaborating evidence to back up their original statement. I have garnered my two additional items of glad tidings about New Zealand's standing in the world.

The first is that we are considered the best holiday spot in the world, according to that conservative bastion Britain's Daily Telegraph. We edged out the stunning Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean and also South Africa; 17,000 readers were polled.

The second affirmative item of news is that we in New Zealand topped a list of the best countries to do business, thanks to our "transparent and stable business climate that fosters entrepreneurship".

As well, this accolade came from Forbes magazine; businesspeople from New Zealand stand up and take a bow. We were ahead of such countries as Denmark, Hong Kong and Singapore.

So, despite our local and vocal detractors, and they will always be with us, it appears to me that in a world beset by a huge lack of economic confidence, we New Zealanders can hold our heads up high.