How an Aaa rating can be read as good news for the Ardern govt – or for the Key govt

Finance  Minister  Grant Robertson   was suitably   chuffed  by international  credit ratings agency Moody’s   Investors  Services’  reaffirming its Aaa rating on the  NZ  government’s  financial  position.  He  banged out a press statement to say this is another  sign that the  Labour-led coalition’s  decision  to  run  surpluses and  pay down debt  is the right  way   to go.

Robertson  brandishes the  Moody’s reaffirmation of NZ’s sovereign credit rating  to rebuff   critics who  insist the government  should  jettison  the  budget responsibility  rules   and borrow  more  to overcome the  country’s structural  infrastructure  and social  deficits.

Moody’s says the government’s fiscal management has created the space needed for investment in areas like infrastructure, affordable housing, education and policies to support families.

This is exactly what we planned for at Budget 2018 – while continuing to live within our means by running sustainable surpluses.  Moody’s says they expect NZ’s growth to be stronger in the next few years than other Aaa-rated countries. They also say our debt reduction track will see government debt fall significantly lower than other Aaa countries. Continue reading “How an Aaa rating can be read as good news for the Ardern govt – or for the Key govt”

Jobs for the boys (and yes, jobs for the girls, too)

When Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa announced the Cabinet decision to have ethnicity data collected for candidates appointed to State sector boards and committees, she said the government every year makes appointments to 429 state sector boards and committees.

These appointments were made in the past week, according to Point of Order’s monitoring of Beehive press statements.    Continue reading “Jobs for the boys (and yes, jobs for the girls, too)”

EU may come to regret its mocking rejection of Britain’s Brexit compromise proposal

LONDON CORRESPONDENT:  In the latest step in the Brexit negotiations, on Thursday EU leaders rejected, with a little mockery, the UK’s laboriously-crafted compromise proposal.  If they mean what they say – there is already a little back-pedalling – this has greatly simplified the rest of the process. The EU in time may regret this.

The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, had staked her reputation on the Chequers plan – a free-trade area for goods and agricultural products under EU rules, designed to avoid imposing a border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (a key EU demand).  By rejecting this, even as a basis for negotiation, the EU in effect has reverted to its initial offer: stay in an existing EU arrangement (like the European Economic Area) or leave with a free trade agreement but Northern Ireland remains in the EU Customs Union (and imposes a border with the rest of the UK). Continue reading “EU may come to regret its mocking rejection of Britain’s Brexit compromise proposal”

Watching the troughs: how did the politicians dish out our money this week?

Point of Order is keeping an eye on how taxpayers’ money is being 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.

Last week we added up the figures they injected into their press statements over the previous seven days. Our tally was $290.6 million (much of this accounted for in one grand announcement for scientific research from Megan Woods).
Continue reading “Watching the troughs: how did the politicians dish out our money this week?”

The taxing task of making a capital idea less toxic to voters

The Labour-led  Government   wants  a   capital  gains tax — why else   would  it have a  Tax Working Group spending  months studying  how to  frame  it?

The problem for Finance Minister  Grant Robertson is  that it could be politically  toxic,  as   David Cunliffe  found when he  campaigned on it.  So  he’s  now  seeking a  final  recommendation  from the  TWG  which makes  taxing  capital gains politically  acceptable — at least to a majority of voters.

It will take all  the political  cunning  of the old master,  Sir Michael Cullen, to come up  with the  answer Robertson needs. Continue reading “The taxing task of making a capital idea less toxic to voters”

Mystery still shrouds ‘incident’ that sparked latest ministerial sacking

Boom!  There  goes another  minister…

PM  Jacinda  Ardern  wasted little time  in firing  Meka  Whaitiri  as  Minister  of Customs after   receiving a  report  into  an  “incident”  in Gisborne  on  August  27   involving Whaitiri and one of her staff.

Ardern said she no longer had confidence Meka Whaitiri as a minister.

That is why I have taken the action I have.  I’ve made the decision solely on this incident. I’m confident in the decision I have made.” Continue reading “Mystery still shrouds ‘incident’ that sparked latest ministerial sacking”

The grass on the far side of the fence will look much greener for Fonterra farmers

It  must have felt  like  salt being rubbed into  their  financial wounds   for Fonterra’s farmer-shareholders, when Synlait  Milk this week  reported  its  net profit  soared  89%  to  $74.6m.   Fonterra’s  mob   saw  their  co-op  notch  up  a  loss of  $196m, and  with prices  at GDT auctions trending down,  they may also have to accept a trim  to the forecast milk price.

Where  Fonterra  talks of   slimming its  portfolio,  Synlait  is still investing  in expansion.

In the latest year Synlait has been working on new and expanded plants in Dunsandel, Auckland and Pokeno as well as a research and development centre in Palmerston North. Continue reading “The grass on the far side of the fence will look much greener for Fonterra farmers”

The PM can take a breather by hob-nobbing with UN leaders on a global stage

It  may be  almost with a  sense of  relief that the PM flies off to New  York this weekend  and leaves  behind her all  the internal  discords  within  her government.

Jacinda  Ardern is going to the UN  to  strut her stuff on the world  stage, making the case for   global co-operation on combating climate change and inequality, supporting the rights of women and children and promoting fair global trading rules.

She will be promoting multi-lateralism and New Zealand’s interests at a wide range of speaking engagements, bilateral meetings, and media appearances. Continue reading “The PM can take a breather by hob-nobbing with UN leaders on a global stage”

GE-Free lobbyists press for NZ’s withdrawal from food standards agency

A fresh battle over genetic engineering  may be looming.  The  GE-Free NZ  lobby  group  is calling  for   the government  to   pull   out of the  trans-Tasman Food Standards Australia New Zealand  (FSANZ)  because, it says, consumers and exporters on both sides of the Tasman are threatened with the introduction of untested, unlabelled genetically modified (GM) food – including animal products.

GE-Free NZ contends Federal agencies who should be protecting consumers have sided with the biotech industry and propose deregulation of a range of risky new gene editing (GE) techniques.  Jon Carapiet, national spokesman for GE-Free NZ,  describes  this  as

“ … the end game for food safety that threatens to sabotage NZ’s export reputation, close off our access to premium markets, and undermine public health.Continue reading “GE-Free lobbyists press for NZ’s withdrawal from food standards agency”

Diplomatic appointments attest to Peters’ progress in revitalising MFAT

Winston  Peters has been  flexing  his  political  muscle  so vigorously in recent weeks  it  has   drawn  attention away  from   his  diplomatic   activity.

He  made it   clear,  when he  took over the  Foreign  Affairs  portfolio, that he  was intent on  rebuilding morale in the  ministry and  extending  New Zealand’s  diplomatic  reach.

He   underlines these  objectives   when he  announced  several new  diplomatic  appointments, notably  with the posting of Brad Burgess  as NZ’s first Ambassador to Ireland.  He says Burgess is ideally suited to the role. As resident Ambassador, he will support NZ’s interests both in Ireland and, more broadly, in Europe as the negotiations toward the EU-New Zealand FTA are in progress. Continue reading “Diplomatic appointments attest to Peters’ progress in revitalising MFAT”