Jacinda’s confrontation with hard-nose regional politics

Forget the platitudinous UN General Assembly and those feel-good soft media moments. Life on the international stage is much harder and more complicated.

PM Jacinda Ardern confronted hard-nose regional politics at APEC and the regional assembly in Singapore.  Few believe Malaysia’s PM Mahathir bin Mohamad’s broadside on China and the Pacific in front of the NZ media was a slip of the tongue.  The wily 93-year-old (according to officials) knew exactly what – and why – he said what he did in public.

Malaysia, like many in the region, has measured the weight and cost of China’s beneficence in Asia-Pacific. Some of NZ’s closest allies suspect NZ has been unthinkingly close to Beijing in recent years. Continue reading “Jacinda’s confrontation with hard-nose regional politics”


Today is Tuesday – so where in the world will the Minister be?

If they are not hard at work in their Beehive offices, our Ministers will be busy with engagements here and there around the country – or engaged in very important business (what else?) overseas.

The Point of Order monitor of Beehive overseas travel announcements in the past week gives these pointers to their whereabouts or where they have been and the nature of their public business.  Here’s what it shows …

Continue reading “Today is Tuesday – so where in the world will the Minister be?”

The US has some catch-up to do as China pushes into the Pacific

NZ  journalists  reporting  PM Jacinda Ardern’s   tap-dancing   at the  EAS  and  APEC  summits  were  engrossed in  such  events  as   her dinner  partners.  Was it to be the  US vice-president Mike Pence?  Sadly, no, it  was  Mrs Pence.

But little   was heard  of  the  diplomatic  heavy  lifting  by  Foreign  Minister  Winston  Peters.  He  held  key meetings  with  US  Secretary  of  State  Mike  Pompeo  and National  Security  Adviser    John Bolton.

In a  sense  these  meetings could be  seen  as   groundwork  for  what  will be  a  major  mission  next  month  to   the  US.

But   they   also  provided  an   opportunity   for Peters to  work  on  the theme of   his  Pacific  “re-set”   and  underline   that – in the  global  trial of strength  between  China  and  the   US – the   Pacific  is  a  theatre in  which  the US  needs to  re-balance  its  efforts.

Continue reading “The US has some catch-up to do as China pushes into the Pacific”

Ministerial appointments monitor – jobs for the boys (and jobs for the girls, too)

According to Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa, the government every year makes appointments to 429 state sector boards and committees.

This gives Ministers several opportunities to wield substantial power by making appointments or recommending them, creating a perception that appointments are a form of political patronage.

They can give a job to a former colleague, such as appointing Dame Annette King High Commissioner to Australia.

Or they can acquire a bit more ministerial muscle by being given new responsibilities. This happened to Nanaia Mahuta, who has been appointed Associate Minister of Housing and Urban Development (Māori Housing).

And if there are no new jobs to be announced – well, a minister can always win headlines and a photo opportunity by dishing out some awards.

Point of Order’s weekly monitoring of Beehive press statements to learn who has been favoured by ministerial appointments and/or awards in the past week shows this …

12 NOVEMBER 2018

Royal Commission of Inquiry scope expanded

Cabinet today agreed to expand the scope of a proposed royal commission of inquiry into the abuse of children in state care, to include the abuse of children in the care of faith-based institutions.

Cabinet also confirmed the four other members of the inquiry to serve with the chair, Sir Anand Satyanand.

The four new commission members are:

  • Ali’imuamua Sandra Alofivae, MNZM, a barrister from South Auckland, who specialises in child and family law, adoption, youth justice, domestic violence and protection orders.
  • Dr Andrew Erueti, senior lecturer at Auckland University School of Law, who specialises in the human rights of the child, indigenous rights, international human rights law and Ngā Tikanga Māori, and who has also been involved in the calls for an inquiry into abuse in State care.
  • Paul Gibson, former Disability Rights Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission from 2011-17, where he was involved in the Never Again / E Kore Anō campaign and has a strong and impressive record as a disability advocate.
  • Judge Coral Shaw, who has recently undertaken reviews in the public sector, brings knowledge and expertise on educational settings, and has served as a District Court and Employment Court judge, and judge of the United Nations Disputes Tribunal.

13 NOVEMBER 2018

Biosecurity champions honoured

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor paid tribute to the winners of the 2018 New Zealand Biosecurity Awards.

  • New Zealand Biosecurity Community Award – Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Industry Award – Kiwifruit Vine Health
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Science Award – Scion: New Zealand Forest Research Institute
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Emerging Leader Award – Dr Amanda Black
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Māori Award – Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Te Rangi Iwi Trust
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Local and Central Government Award – Environment Southland
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Innovation Award – Jacson3 Limited
  • New Zealand Biosecurity Supreme Award – Environment Southland
  • Minister’s Biosecurity Award – Greg Corbett

Further detail is at www.mpi.govt.nz/biosecurityawards

13 NOVEMBER 2018

Dame Silvia Cartwright to lead public inquiry into EQC

EQC Minister Megan Woods announced former Governor-General and High Court Judge Dame Silvia Cartwright will lead the public inquiry into EQC.

Dame Silvia led the Cartwright Inquiry into Auckland National Women’s Hospital in the 1980s, and served on the Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal.

The inquiry will be the first of its kind under the Public Inquiries Act 2013 and will have all the powers of a Royal Commission, be independent of Government and make its report directly to the Governor-General.

The terms of reference can be found on the DPMC website.

14 NOVEMBER 2018

New High Commissioner to Australia announced

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced the appointment of Dame Annette King as High Commissioner to Australia.

Dame Annette previously has held several senior Cabinet portfolios, including Justice, Police and Health. She was Parliament’s longest serving female MP with 30 years’ service,” said Mr Peters.

The other 25 Head of Mission appointments announced this year have been career diplomats.

Dame Annette is expected to start her High Commissioner duties at the end of the year.

14 NOVEMBER 2018

New Minister and Unit for Māori housing

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford announced the establishment of a dedicated Māori Housing Unit to improve housing opportunities for Māori and the appointment of Minister Nanaia Mahuta as Associate Minister of Housing and Urban Development (Māori Housing) to lead it.

The Unit is being established within the new Ministry for Housing and Urban Development.

16 NOVEMBER 2018

172 young Kiwis head to Asia on Prime Minister’s Scholarships

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today congratulated the 172 young New Zealanders who have been awarded prestigious Prime Minister’s Scholarships for Asia (PMSA) as part of the August 2018/19 round.

The newly announced awardees – 49 individuals, and 17 groups totalling 123 – are either recent graduates or come from universities, institutes of technology and polytechnics or private training enterprises across New Zealand. They will travel to destinations including China, India, Viet Nam, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore to study, carry out research or undertake internships – spanning from four weeks to one year.

A total of $1,408,578 was awarded this round for 2018/19 covering both individual and group awardees.

The PMSA recipients’ names from the August 2018/19 round can be found here. The PMSLA recipients’ names from the August 2018/19 round can be found here.


The trough monitor: where did the politicians spend our money this week?

Point of Order is keeping an eye on how taxpayers’ money is being invested, spent or given away by the Ardern Government.

Ministers typically get a warm glow from announcing spending decisions, grants or the establishment of new troughs within the authority of their portfolios – and from providing photo opportunities to promote themselves.

Troughers aren’t the only recipients, it’s fair to say.  But separating prudent spending – the sort which all taxpayers expect from a good government – from the more questionable sort can be very much a matter of opinion. We’ll leave it to readers to decide.

We draw attention this week to the financial contribution through the Major Events Development Fund which enabled New Zealand to host the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup.

But Sports and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson won’t say how much.

In contrast, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones proudly bandied the sums involved in an avalanche of press statements which announced his latest handouts from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Here’s what the press statements from the Beehive showed: Continue reading “The trough monitor: where did the politicians spend our money this week?”

Just a trivial misunderstanding – history students’ ignorance won’t be penalised by NZQA

Sorry – but did we hear that correctly?

Sadly, we did.  According to an RNZ item in the midday news, students won’t be penalised for not knowing the meaning of “trivial” when they bumped into the word – apparently for the first time – in a history exam.

The chair of the History Teachers Association, a bloke by name of Graeme Ball, was quoted as saying he welcomed this news from the NZQA..

But perhaps we should not be too surprised.  The first objective on the list of his association’s aims is to “promote and encourage the teaching of history”. 

The teaching of the English-language component of the three R’s obviously is somebody else’s problem. Continue reading “Just a trivial misunderstanding – history students’ ignorance won’t be penalised by NZQA”

NZ leaders ensure Mahathir’s warnings about the South China Sea stay secret

Earlier  this  week  Foreign Affairs   Minister  Winston Peters told an  audience in  Dublin…

“We have entered a period of dangerous uncertainty in global affairs. The global system underpinning our security and prosperity for the past 75 years is under unprecedented stress… And we are seeing efforts to reshape the world in ways that do not always support our interests or reflect our values”.

New  Zealanders  who  read  the  text of his speech  may well have been  puzzled  by what he  was talking about.  He   didn’t  spell  out  from  which  direction  those efforts to  reshape the world are coming from.

Continue reading “NZ leaders ensure Mahathir’s warnings about the South China Sea stay secret”