Make-or-break year for Bridges – he must prove he is PM material without shouting down Ardern

Already  it is shaping  as  the  most challenging year  for  National  since it   lost   the Treasury benches  in  2017.  For  Simon Bridges,  it’s  make-or-break   for  his leadership.

Going  head-to-head  with the  Jacinda  phenomenon,  he has  little chance of  monstering  her   in  television  broadcasts,  and even if he did it could backfire  on  National.

Bridges’  task is  more  complex.    He has  to prove himself  as   the  Prime  Minister-in-waiting,  clearly   the underdog  in a contest   where he  cannot be  seen to be   shouting down  his  opponent.

Yet he  must win enough  support  to  overwhelm  Labour  and  its  coalition allies  combined – a   feat   which  far more popular  National leaders  (John Key or Bill English)   could not  achieve.

He  will  need  more than a  cunning plan,  or  the  social  media  wizardry of the  Topham Guerin  team  (who were  credited   with a  key role  first  in Scott Morrison’s  surprise  election success and  then  with  Boris  Johnson’s triumph  in the UK.

So  how   could  National  frame  an  election-winning  strategy? Continue reading “Make-or-break year for Bridges – he must prove he is PM material without shouting down Ardern”

You can shop around for an affordable gluten-free sandwich – but being sure of what’s in it is not so easy

One way to express dismay at the price being asked for the goods and services we want is to shop elsewhere.  Another is to cough up, then grumble about being ripped off on social media.

Taking the second course of action may well attract the mainstream media and soon an aggrieved customer’s grouch has been turned into a newspaper headline.

An example can be found today at Stuff:  Coeliac sufferer says cafe $4 gluten free surcharge is profiteering.

The report beneath the headline says cafes are charging more to cover rising costs, including wages – but a woman charged $4 extra for gluten free bread says this is  profiteering.

A woman with coeliac disease who was charged $4 for gluten free bread at an Auckland cafe says the business is profiting off people’s illnesses and allergies.

Wellington woman Emma Ward said on Twitter on Sunday: “I am at a cafe in Auckland and the GF bread is $4 extra. $4! I understand it’s an extra cost but it is also super ableist.”

The 27-year-old said gluten-free bread was quite pricey, but the surcharge was usually $2.

“It’s frustrating when you can tell the bread is just a slice of Vogels from the supermarket,” she said.

The Stuff report. alas, then demonstrates a feeble grasp of economic concepts such as “free enterprise” and “competition”:  Continue reading “You can shop around for an affordable gluten-free sandwich – but being sure of what’s in it is not so easy”

Former NZ diplomat lands key post with major public relations company in US

High-flying former New Zealand diplomat Kirsty Graham has been appointed CEO Global Public Affairs for major US public relations company, Edelmans.  She takes up her duties at the end of February.

Dunedin-born Graham’s last MFAT post was deputy head of mission at the NZ Mission to the United Nations in New York. She also served in Washington DC and on the staff of former foreign minister Sir Don McKinnon.

From New York she was recruited by the US drug manufacturer Pfizer as senior vice president, corporate affairs for its Biopharmaceuticals Group and senior vice president Global Policy and International Affairs. She has also been vice president and Corporate Affairs lead for the company’s Essential Health group.

During her 10 years at Pfizer, Graham also held the title of vice president, Policy, External Affairs and Communications for the Primary Care Business unit as well as senior director, International Public Affairs for Asia-Pacific and Canada.

Graham will become a member of Edelmans’ Operating Committee, whose businesses operate in more than 125 countries and have a portfolio of more than 600 products generating about three-quarters of the company’s revenues.

PGF pumps millions into Wairarapa water projects – but who will own the water?

The providers of public handouts are back in action and the Point of Order Trough Monitor has sounded its first alert for 2020.

Wairarapa water projects are the beneficiaries of a $7.11m boost from the Provincial Growth Fund, announced this morning by Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau.

This is a significantly greater lump of money than the PGF investment of $800,000 which Tabuteau announced in May last year for Wairarapa Water Limited to investigate the development and construction of community water storage.

The money was to help the company to review and update a 2015 pre-feasibility study which investigated six potential water schemes in the region and to align the study to recent climate change projections and current Government policies regarding small-scale water storage schemes for communities.

Today Tabuteau said two projects will receive funding:

  • A $7 million investment in Wairarapa Water Limited for the pre-construction development of water storage (and associated distribution) infrastructure at the Wakamoekau site in the Wairarapa.
  • $110,000 to the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency Ltd led by the Wairarapa Water Resilience Committee to develop and produce a Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy.

Tabuteau has become fluent in speaking the language of Beehive largess: Continue reading “PGF pumps millions into Wairarapa water projects – but who will own the water?”

If dollops of trivial news are the best measure, we may never know when the silly season is over

The so-called “silly season” isn’t a Kiwi phenomenon.

According to Wikipedia, in the United Kingdom and in some other places

” … the silly season is the period lasting for a few summer months typified by the emergence of frivolous news stories in the media.

“It is known in many languages as the cucumber time.

“The term is first attested in 1861, was listed in the second (1894) edition of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, and remains in use at the start of the 21st century. The fifteenth edition of Brewer’s expands on the second, defining the silly season as “the part of the year when Parliament and the Law Courts are not sitting (about August and September)”.

“In North America the period is often referred to prosaically as the slow news season, or less commonly with the phrase dog days of summer.

“In Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, the silly season has come to refer to the Christmas/New Year festive period (which occurs during the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere) on account of the higher than usual number of social engagements where the consumption of alcohol is typical.” Continue reading “If dollops of trivial news are the best measure, we may never know when the silly season is over”

Adoration of the PM is a strong card for Labour but polls are pointing to a close-run election

NZ   politicians  have  been  quiet  over the   holiday season,  perhaps  in the case  of   the  Labour team, reflecting  on the  “year of  delivery”  and where  it all  went  wrong.

But  now  we  are  into a new decade (one  authority has already labelled it  “the roaring 2020s”)  and New Zealand cannot stay  isolated in  some sort of  cocoon, no matter how  much  this may be desired.

Even   those politicians  who have succeeded  in finding a  peaceful  beach on which to  sun themselves  will  be  formulating the strategies  they hope will  work for  them  in election year.

Many  on the  Labour side  of the  fence   believe   Jacinda  Ardern  has a fan base    strong enough to  carry  the coalition to a  second term.   Here at   Point of  Order,   we have  encountered  sufficient adoration within  that  fan base  to  consider  that  they  will stay   loyal  when they  cast  their ballots.

And  she   is  regarded  as  one of the  most admired world leaders,  isn’t  she?

But  as  elections elsewhere have  shown,  particularly   in the UK  but also  in   Australia, constituencies  which have  never   deviated   from being  rock-solid  Labour  for  decades can turn decisively  away  from the party. Continue reading “Adoration of the PM is a strong card for Labour but polls are pointing to a close-run election”

How NZ’s productivity growth might be fostered by finding what makes “frontier firms” tick

We suspect some readers – maybe many – faltered when Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced he has approved the terms of reference “for an inquiry into the economic contribution of New Zealand’s frontier firms”.

Frontier firms?  What are they and give us some examples?

Robertson explained that these are the most productive firms in the domestic economy within their own industry.

“These firms are important as they diffuse new technologies and business practices into the wider New Zealand economy.

“While we do have some world-leading firms, we need them to lift performance and productivity to create a pathway for more firms to succeed on the world stage,” Grant Robertson says.

He referred to work undertaken by the Productivity Commission in 2016 which suggested that New Zealand’s firms – on average – were about one-third less productive than international firms in the same industry. Continue reading “How NZ’s productivity growth might be fostered by finding what makes “frontier firms” tick”