Find a post for Helen Clark, by all means – but in London rather than Washington

David Farrar last week posted an item on Kiwiblog headed “Jacinda should appoint Helen Ambassador to the US.”

He noted that Helen Clark once ran New Zealand.  She then went on to run the UN Development Programme.

“Now her main activity seems to be picking fights with Eden Park.

“She’s obviously bored and needs a job. To spare us the daily headlines about what Helen has tweeted on any issue, I propose Jacinda gives her a decent job to keep her busy.

“Why not Ambassador to the US? They are huge on hierarchy so nothing works better than a former PM. She gets to be called Prime Minister Clark for her duration there”.

Here at Point of Order, we don’t think Foreign Minister Winston Peters would agree with Farrar on this.  Continue reading “Find a post for Helen Clark, by all means – but in London rather than Washington”

Brexit: it’s time to put up or …. ?

LONDON CORRESPONDENT:  So the UK cabinet resignations duly came and the EU duly rejected Theresa’s May’s latest Brexit plan.

What next? Those who really want to forget the whole thing think it’s time for another referendum (although it’s not obvious what the question(s) might be).  But given the EU’s implacable stance, it looks like the UK needs to prepare for, and show willingness to implement, hard Brexit.

Paradoxically, that gives it the best chance of achieving a satisfactory deal. In effect, UK leaders are coming to terms with their participation in a gigantic game of chicken.

Not least because the media are making good running with lurid end-of-the-UK stories. The truly silly ones can be handled briskly:  hospitals will run out of medicines (we have plans, says the NHS) or dairy products may become luxuries (because the UK for some unexplained reason will impose even higher tariffs than the EU does). Continue reading “Brexit: it’s time to put up or …. ?”

Well-being index may show we have little to bleat about – except productivity, perhaps

The  government  is reported to be  planning  a   “world-first well-being”  budget  in  2019.   It  won’t  be  some “light, fluffy happiness index”, but  will be based, says  Finance  Minister Grant  Robertson, on  indicators  and measures of well-being   which  can be tracked.

It  sounds a  great  idea.  The  government   sees it  as  running in tandem  with the current  measurement of  GDP growth,  which according to Robertson is a  good, long-run  measure of  economic  activity.  But he reckons GDP  doesn’t represent  what  New  Zealanders  regard as  success. He believes  success should be measured  not just through  financial  capital  (by  GDP), but through natural  capital, human capital  and  social  capital.

The government’s enthusiasm   for   tracking  “well-being”  is  apparently  matched in the departments tasked with undertaking the  research,  particularly  Treasury  and  Statistics.  Continue reading “Well-being index may show we have little to bleat about – except productivity, perhaps”

Nurses won lots of sympathy – but who says tax collectors are invaluable?

A press release from the PSA at 9:32 am  which advised IR and MBIE workers on strike TODAY.

WHEN: Today, Monday 23 July, 1pm – 3pm

WHERE: Various locations around New Zealand (see below)

WHAT: 4000 PSA members from IR and MBIE take strike action

The statement advised that PSA members at Inland Revenue and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment “will reluctantly hold a second day of strike action today”. Continue reading “Nurses won lots of sympathy – but who says tax collectors are invaluable?”

Let’s not just make it an option – let’s give rongoā Māori a cancer trial

Preacher Bill Subritzky, whose “patients” claimed his prayers could heal cancer, brought a team of evangelists to Wellington a few years ago to pray for the sick.

Health authorities warned people to approach their healing claims with “extreme caution”.  But fliers distributed to Wellington households contained testimonies from Subritzky’s followers telling of miraculous recoveries from cancer, kidney failure and arthritis.

“I had kidney failure and was instantly healed after Bill prayed for me,” one says.

Rather than disparage the faith healer, blogger David Farrar proposed Subritzky spend a month at Mary Potter Hospice praying to cure their cancers. Continue reading “Let’s not just make it an option – let’s give rongoā Māori a cancer trial”

Parliamentary “pairing” rules were scrapped in NZ when we adopted MMP

A political row that has broken out in Britain could not happen here, thanks to our switch to the MMP electoral system.

The row is summed up in this Guardian headline:  The cheating of Jo Swinson has exposed the UK parliament’s rotten core.

It involves a breach of a “pairing” arrangement – a longstanding practice in the House of Commons whereby the whips of the government and an opposition party agree to allow MPs from one side to miss a vote because of personal reasons or official business. The other party agrees to hold back one of their MPs from voting so the two absences cancel each other out.
Continue reading “Parliamentary “pairing” rules were scrapped in NZ when we adopted MMP”

Why EQC’s Christchurch challenges might be more attractive than Canberra

Relations  between  Canberra  and  Wellington have had more than a  touch of  frost  about them lately.  That’s perhaps  not  surprising, after Justice Minister Andrew   Little  talked about  Australia’s “venal politics”  in a  recent  ABC programme and acting  PM  Winston Peters  cited  Australia  for breaching  the UN  convention on the Rights of  the Child, in relation to  the case  of  a  17-year-old in an adult   migrant detention centre  awaiting deportation to  NZ.

Earlier PM Jacinda Ardern had been critical of  Australia’s  policy towards  those detained on  Manus Island.  When  she  met  Australia’s PM  Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney back in  March  she also  raised  the problems involved  in  Australia  deporting New Zealanders  who had committed  crimes, particularly  those with  Australian  families.

But  Turnbull  rebuffed  her,  telling  her the  policy  was “fair and just” and “moral”. Continue reading “Why EQC’s Christchurch challenges might be more attractive than Canberra”

Northland is doing nicely, thank you, from project funding announced by Shane Jones

Kiwiblog’s David Farrar had no problem answering the question he posed in a headline on a recent post: So who is benefiting from the pork barrel fund?

He referenced a TVNZ 1 News report which said

 … the Ngati Hine Forestry Trust will profit hugely from the taxpayer investment and critics argue that it’s not a good look.

The trust will be receiving $8 million from the government to plant trees and create 60 jobs for the people of Northland.

The trust’s website shows its acting chief executive and a trustee is Pita Paraone, recently retired NZ First MP. Continue reading “Northland is doing nicely, thank you, from project funding announced by Shane Jones”

Big Macs and BMI – getting the measure of our economic health

Watch  your  BMI,  London’s  The Economist  advised last week as it updated  its  Big Mac index—what it  calls its lighthearted  guide  to  currency  valuation.

For  NZ   this has  special  meaning,  because  since  January  the  NZ   dollar  has  moved  from  being  17%    to   23%  undervalued, according to the  BMI.

The Big Mac index, invented by The Economist in 1986 as a lighthearted guide to whether currencies are at their “correct” level, is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP). 
Continue reading “Big Macs and BMI – getting the measure of our economic health”

EU-Japan trade deal is seen as a counter to Trumpist protectionism

While the trade  wars   triggered   by  Donald  Trump  raise  fears  of  a  rise in global protectionism, Japan  and  the European Union this week signed  a  wide-ranging  free trade deal.  It has  important implications  for   NZ,   which is  also seeking to negotiate  a  free trade  deal  with the EU.

NZ  farm lobbies could be concerned that  their  European  counterparts have  stolen a march in  getting  better access  to  the Japanese market  than they do under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

But tariffs on European farm products, particularly beef and  cheese,  in fact will be  removed  slowly in Japan and will not  reach  zero  for  15  years. Continue reading “EU-Japan trade deal is seen as a counter to Trumpist protectionism”