Peters leads NZ away from trying to balance relations with US and China

A seismic shift is under way in NZ’s geopolitical relationships. Led by Foreign Minister Winston Peters, the Coalition government has eased away from the previous National government’s ready accommodation with China and the presumption that NZ could easily balance United States and China relations to a more hard-nosed approach.  Several elements have contributed.

First, a powerful pro-Beijing faction in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has lost influence.

Second, the present government is more attuned to current geopolitical shifts in NZ’s immediate north-west. Now there is a new, sharper understanding of the implications of a move by China into contacts with NZ’s immediate Pacific environment such as the Cook Islands. Continue reading “Peters leads NZ away from trying to balance relations with US and China”

Advertisements

British budget (it should be noted) assumes success for Brexit negotiations

London correspondent:  Britain’s budget, announced on Monday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, mainly comprised the small fixes voters have got used to:  here tweaking tax thresholds, there nudging up stealth taxes, a little more cash for schools now and a (perhaps not-so-small) digital tax in the future.  But what was more interesting was the acknowledgement that the budget assumed a satisfactory outcome for the current Brexit negotiations and that a totally different budget would be required in the event of failure.

In fact, Britain’s economy has performed much better since Britain voted to leave the European Union than predicted by those who opposed exit.  Neither consumers nor businesses responded to the uncertainty by hunkering down and slashing expenditure.  But if Britain leaves in March next year without a transition deal covering areas like trade, commerce, transport and communications, there is likely to be at least temporary, perhaps significant, disruption to transaction flows. Continue reading “British budget (it should be noted) assumes success for Brexit negotiations”

We await KiwiRail’s explaining the benefits of two systems on the Main Trunk Line…

Point of Order  was lamenting  in   an earlier post  how the taxpayer has to  suck  up  the  $35m   cost of the  of the  Ardern-Peters  government’s decision  to  retain  electric  locos,  soon  to be  refurbished,  on the  Main Trunk  Line  between  Hamilton and Palmerston North.

This in  effect was a reversal of  the decision taken  two years  ago to  ditch the  North Island  electric locos  and  replace them with diesel-powered engines.

What Point of Order  failed to mention in that  earlier  post  is that the  latest batch of KiwiRail’s new DL class diesel-electric locomotives has arrived at the Port of Tauranga. Continue reading “We await KiwiRail’s explaining the benefits of two systems on the Main Trunk Line…”

More public money shovelled into the KiwiRail firebox to help the environment

The  poor old taxpayer who  poured more than  $1bn into   state-owned  KiwiRail during the term of the  National  government  is  being hit up  for  another $35m   to reverse the decision taken  two years  ago to  ditch the  North Island  electric locos  and  replace them with diesel-powered engines.

The Ardern-Peters-led coalition has decided to refurbish the 15  units in  the electric fleet — even  though the   argument  to replace  them  was “compelling” .

While  the  government  now  says it is keeping electric locomotives on the North Island Main Trunk Line running to help meet its long-term emissions goals and boost the economy,  KiwiRail  earlier  said it was essentially running “a railway within a railway” by having the electric section.  (The North Island Main Trunk runs from Auckland to Wellington but is electrified only between Hamilton and Palmerston North). The doubling up of service facilities, inventory, training and maintenance required with two separate systems on the line, KiwiRail said, adds to  inefficiencies and unreliability.

The    $35m  now earmarked  for  refurbishment of the trains and electric control system  is additional to the $4bn  for public transport and rail under the National Land Transport Programme. Continue reading “More public money shovelled into the KiwiRail firebox to help the environment”

VUW science teachers are encouraged to learn about mauri and other Māori belief concepts

A concept rooted in Māori spiritual belief – mauri – is widely used in environmental research, monitoring, and restoration work in New Zealand. It has been absorbed within university studies, too, and mātauranga Māori is being taught in science courses.

Victoria University of Wellington “encourages” its staff and students to teach, research and learn about mātauranga Māori as part of their studies.

Faculty of Science staff have not been exempted from this institutional acculturation.  They

” … have been actively participating in the University’s Te Hāpai professional development programme, which helps them to learn more about Te Reo Māori, tikanga Māori and the Treaty of Waitangi. We have found that as people learn more about the Māori culture they become more comfortable and confident about teaching Māori material.” Continue reading “VUW science teachers are encouraged to learn about mauri and other Māori belief concepts”

$5bn surplus divided among 17,000 teachers – it’s not so simple when Robertson becomes involved

The looming teachers’ strike poses a real headache for the Ardern government. In throwing down the gauntlet to Education Minister Chris Hipkins, the teachers’ union has talked of a “crisis” in the schools, a desperate shortage of teachers, and of principals “in tears” with the stress of trying to ensure there is a teacher in every classroom.

Hipkins says he is disappointed, but not surprised, that primary teachers will strike again.

The government has raised its initial bid of an increased 2.2% to 2.6% a year to 3% a year over the next three years but the the gap between this and what the teachers are demanding remains wide. Continue reading “$5bn surplus divided among 17,000 teachers – it’s not so simple when Robertson becomes involved”