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”
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”
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…”
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”
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”
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”
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 overseas.
The Point of Order monitor of Beehive overseas travel announcements in the past week shows this…
Continue reading “Today is Monday – so where in the world will the Minister be?”
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.
This works out at around eight lots of appointments each week (8.25% if you don’t like rounded numbers).
But Point of Order’s weekly monitoring of Beehive press statements shows ministers had a lax week, when it comes to dispensing jobs since last Monday. We found none.
Maybe the pace will pick up when those who were overseas come back home.
The Trough Monitor at Point of Order keeps an eye on how taxpayers’ money is being invested, spent, given away or squandered 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.
One new trough has been opened for the rural sector – the $40m a year Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund.
Other spending is portended, such as the legislation to establish a Criminal Case Review Commission and a report which recommends Māori be given more influence in biodiversity matters.
But the biggie this week is the portent of costs up to $2bn to raise the standards of wastewater treatment plants that discharge into rivers and lakes across the country.
This post was updated on 29 October to include an item we didn’t spot earlier, related to the planning and building of a new new Multi-Use Arena in Christchurch.
Here’s what we spotted on the Beehive website … Continue reading “The Trough Monitor: where did the politicians spend our money this week?”
Did Energy Minister Megan Woods just get lucky? In the week she signed up to work with Japan in developing hydrogen technology in the move to a low- carbon economy, the big transport firm TIL Logistics Group says it is working with New Plymouth-based Hiringa Energy on hydrogen fuel cell technology transport solutions in NZ.
The project has the potential to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from TIL’s national fleet of 900 trucks, 310 forklifts and 170 light vehicles.
Woods has been under fire for the ban she imposed on offshore oil and gas exploration. But with TIL leading the way on hydrogen fuel cell technology, it may be the transition away from fossil fuels may go faster than even the government could have expected.
The cooperation agreement between NZ’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry reached in Tokyo on October 23 by Minister Woods and Hiroshige Seko, Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, is the first of its kind that Japan has signed Continue reading “TIL Logistics paves the way for reducing emissions with hydrogen fuel cell technology”