Brexit opportunity: just don’t call it another free trade agreement

LONDON CORRESPONDENT: Does New Zealand’s government understand the opportunity which Brexit presents? Are they and their advisers working tirelessly to realise it?

OK, difficult questions, not least because there are no binding decisions on the shape or timing of Brexit and these are likely to come in a final rush. But the underlying position is so positive that it would be a tremendous shame if New Zealand’s policy was not being shaped to take advantage of it.

Given the scorn critics are pouring on Britain’s post-Brexit trade prospects, the UK really needs an eye-catching trade deal to kick in on leaving. It would be a political coup, more than an economic one. The partner which Britain’s politicians think will deliver this reliably and quickly should get the most attention and the best terms.
Continue reading “Brexit opportunity: just don’t call it another free trade agreement”

Norwegian-built ship to be bought for RNZN hydrographic and diving duties

Defence Minister Ron Mark has scored another success at Cabinet, winning approval to buy a new hydrographic and dive ship for the Royal New Zealand Navy.  An 85-metre Norwegian-built multi-role offshore support vessel, the MV Edda Fonn, will replace HMNZS Resolution and HMNZS Manawanui.

The two vessels were decommissioned from the RNZN in 2012 and 2018 respectively, following several decades of service.

The $103m budget covers purchase, modifications and introduction into service. This has been funded through an existing appropriation. Continue reading “Norwegian-built ship to be bought for RNZN hydrographic and diving duties”

A2 Milk reports an a1 result while scientists work on the health benefits

Revenue up   68%, profit up 116% , cash  on hand up  280% …

Those annual results are the sort most  companies’ bosses  dream of.  They are certainly are the  kind  of  results  Fonterra’s  farmer-suppliers    are  not  likely  to  hear  from  the  co-op’s  board in  this lifetime.

But  for A2 Milk’s  shareholders  they are  real.   Reporting to shareholders  (who  indeed have had a  dream run  this year), the   company this week  said revenue  reached  $922.7m,  annual profit $195.7m,  and  the sales margin  was  31%,  up  from  26%

Other key statistics  included strong cash conversion with operating cash flow of $231.1m – up 131%, and basic earnings per share of 27c – up from 12.7c. Continue reading “A2 Milk reports an a1 result while scientists work on the health benefits”

Motherhood goes with apple pie – but what are the implications for the planet?

We missed any follow-ups on the parturiency of Alice Snedden, described as a comedian, writer and improviser.  But when news of Jacinda Ardern’s pregnancy first broke, Snedden announced she was genuinely, inexplicably happy .

I’m not sure if that’s how everyone experiences cluckiness, but for me, there was a direct correlation between how much I all of a sudden wanted a kid and how hot I suddenly was for dads. It’s a truly bizarre phenomenon and I don’t think I’m the only one affected.

Ardern, of course, has returned to work after bringing daughter Neve into the world.  Indeed, the baby may well become a prime ministerial accessory akin to Margaret Thatcher’s handbag (although the handbag didn’t require feeding).

Green Party MP and Women’s Minister Julie Anne Genter has subsequently cycled to hospital (virtuously minimising the greenhouse impacts from her birthing experience) where her son was born and the New Zealand population got that much bigger. Continue reading “Motherhood goes with apple pie – but what are the implications for the planet?”

China will be on the agenda in talks between Winston Peters and Julie Bishop

Foreign Minister Winston Peters is in Australia  for  the regular six-monthly consultations with his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop – and to deliver a speech to the National Press Club.

Some  see  this as  a  critical  moment   in the  Trans-Tasman  relationship  in the light of the recent spat  over  Australia’s  action in  deporting  increasing  numbers  of  Kiwis. More important, there is growing concern in  both  Canberra  and  Wellington   about the  role  China is  playing in the Pacific.

If anyone   from  the  NZ coalition  government  can get some  traction in  Canberra,  it is  probably  Winston Peters.  He  may, however,  find the current climate there  very edgy after PM Malcolm Turnbull survived a leadership ballot by a close 48 votes to 35.   Continue reading “China will be on the agenda in talks between Winston Peters and Julie Bishop”

The public might approve but political pay freeze won’t shrink inequality

Jacinda  Ardern’s  move to  freeze  the salaries of  MPs has  been hailed  as  “astute”.  She  says  it is  about  “values”:

We   are focussed on raising  the income  on  lower to  middle  income  earners… We  do not believe, given that  we are   at the  upper end of  the  scale, we should  be  receiving that sort of  increase.”

The independent Remuneration Authority  had ruled a  3% pay rise to apply this month backdated to  July 1,  but   Ardern  insists it is  “not appropriate”  for MPs to be subject  to such an  increase.

And the  country  brays an approving “hear, hear”. Continue reading “The public might approve but political pay freeze won’t shrink inequality”

Plenty of advice for Fonterra’s bosses – but are our expectations too high?

Dairy farmers  should be pleased with the  advice  liberally and freely tendered to Fonterra in the wake of the co-op’s board deciding to halt its international  search for a  new  CEO and instead,  with an  interim CEO,  Miles Hurrell, “pause and  assess  the  way   ahead”.

Fran  O’Sullivan,  Head of Business at NZME,  which publishes the  NZ  Herald, says appointing an interim chief executive to run New Zealand’s largest company is an admission of failure that should force Fonterra’s board to look hard at its own performance.  And she  concludes:

If this company is to succeed, it needs to be governed and led by grown-ups within a grown-up NZ commercial environment”.

Continue reading “Plenty of advice for Fonterra’s bosses – but are our expectations too high?”

The political power game: energy company resignations suggest the trough has been tipped

Earlier  this  month Jenny  Shipley  announced   she would step down as  chair of Genesis  Energy  at  the  annual meeting  in  October after nine years  in the role. Her decision  followed   a week  after  Transpower’s    chair, Tony  Ryall, said he had notified the company’s shareholding ministers  he will retire from the board of Transpower effective December 31.

Only  people   prone  to  conspiracy   theories    would  see anything other than a coincidence in the timing  of  these  two  announcements.

Yet those familiar  with political events   over  the   past two  decades –  or three – may recall  both Shipley  and   Ryall    share a  bit  of  history  with   none other than  Winston  Peters, who happens to be something more than Deputy PM  in the Labour-NZ  First  government and Minister of Foreign Affairs.  He also  holds  the   State-owned Enterprises  portfolio. Continue reading “The political power game: energy company resignations suggest the trough has been tipped”

All this politicking about Māori seats – will Massey staff and students be able to discuss it?

It perhaps won’t be examined by students at the Treaty-led Massey University, where staff are cocooned from indelicate thinking about Maori representation by their protective vice-chancellor . But ACT leader David Seymour is crediting his Smaller Government Bill with prompting Winston Peters into action on the Māori seats.

A press statement he issued at the weekend alerted us to Peters  telling Sky News he would propose an amendment to a Labour MP’s bill.  This would have the effect of putting the future of the seats to a referendum.

An account of what he said has been reported by Television One:

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has reiterated his intent to push for a referendum on the future of the Māori seats in Parliament.

Continue reading “All this politicking about Māori seats – will Massey staff and students be able to discuss it?”

Plaudits for Shane Jones should be offset by his antics at Question Time

New Zealand First’s Shane Jones today has been rewarded with a positive mention in the Dominion-Post’s weekly “Below the Beltway” column, where a political scribe salutes some politicians in the “up” section and chide others in the “down” section.

Explaining why Jones merited a spot in the “up” section, the column says  –

“He’s on track for his target of one billion trees after Cabinet approved an extra $250 million for the scheme…”

At Point of Order we would have taken into account his playing the race card in an ignoble attempt to constrain the Nats from holding the Government to account at  Question Time. Continue reading “Plaudits for Shane Jones should be offset by his antics at Question Time”