The Trough Monitor: oh, look – new ‘opportunities’ for tree planting grants

Another alert has been sounded by the Point of Order Trough Monitor, this time drawing attention to the establishment of yet another trough and a rich swill.

News of this trough was announced in a press statement from Forestry Minister Shane Jones – fast becoming the Lord High Bestower of Beehive Beneficence – and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

Today they launched the One Billion Trees Fund, describing it as a crucial step toward achieving the goal of planting at least one billion trees by 2028.

The headline on their press statement is telling:  One Billion Trees Fund offers new opportunities.

Dipping opportunities.

Continue reading “The Trough Monitor: oh, look – new ‘opportunities’ for tree planting grants”

The Trough Monitor: $490,000 for bike park in Tourism Minister’s home patch

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones isn’t the only one to be bringing good cheer to those deemed worthy of benefiting from the Provincial Growth Fund.

The Point of Order Trough Monitor drew attention to Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis dipping into the fund to bring good news to his Te Tai Tokerau patch yesterday.

The announcement came in a press statement headed PGF invests in final push to complete Waitangi Mountain Bike Park,

The Government seems keen to get us pedalling.   Just a few days earlier Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter announced the NZ Transport Agency will provide $23 million over the next three years to expand the Bikes in Schools and cycle skills education to get more Kiwi kids on their bikes.

Davis announced a more modest sum: 

The Government is backing a high-arenaline tourism project in Northland by investing $490,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund towards the final stage of the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced today.

Funding for the $2.1 million project has come from a variety of sources and it is anticipated that the project could create over 160 jobs after 10 years. When completed, the community-owned park will offer mountain bikers 72 kilometres of trails catering to all abilities, and is expected to attract 15,000 new visitors to the region after three years.

“This will be a premium tourist attraction for the Bay of Islands that will create jobs in the long term and support the success of surrounding businesses,” Kelvin Davis said.

“Cycle tourism is a growing part of the market. The Waitangi Mountain Bike Park will complement Northland’s other major cycling attraction – Pou Herenga Tai Far North Cycle Way – and the long term plan is to connect the two attractions.”

Continue reading “The Trough Monitor: $490,000 for bike park in Tourism Minister’s home patch”

Great PR for a caring PM – but benefactor’s name has been buried in awards change

Back in the days when a government agency’s name clearly signalled what the public could expect from it, we had a Department of Child, Youth and Family Services which in 2005/06 proudly reported the first William Wallace Awards would be made to four young people during Foster Care Awareness Week in October 2006.

Fast forward to November 2018.  The agency has become Orangi Tamariki (Ministry of Children in small type underneath) but when nominations for the 2018 awards closed (15 – 20 awards were available this year) they were still called the William Wallace Awards.

Many young people in care have overcome significant barriers and gone on to achieve great things. These awards honour these outstanding young people, and provide help for them to pursue their dreams of tertiary, vocational or leadership training. 

Any young person in care – or who has recently come out of care – can win an award. And anyone can make a nomination

But hey.  We have a caring, nurturing Prime Minister and – shazam!

The William Wallace Awards are being renamed …

The Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Awards.

Betcha that has given Jacinda a nice warm glow.

The benefactor whose estate has provided the awards over the past 12 years or so won’t be entirely forgotten. Two William Wallace Scholarships are being retained as part of the new awards. Continue reading “Great PR for a caring PM – but benefactor’s name has been buried in awards change”

$35,000 was budgeted to celebrate the best bosses in the primary sector

First came news in an emailed press release headed Key Māori businesses recognised as good employers).   

The press release hasn’t been posted on the Beehive website, but it advised us of Forestry Minister Shane Jones presenting the Māori Agribusiness Awards at the Primary Industries Good Employer Awards.

Then our email delivered a press release headed Awards for best primary sector employersIt told us about Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor congratulating the best primary sector employers at an awards evening at Parliament.

“The first ever MPI AGMARDT Primary Industries Good Employer Awards have recognised exceptional employers across the dairy, seafood, forestry and horticulture sectors,” he said.

We hope they all had a great night.  But how much money did the award-winners get and what was the cost to the taxpayer? Continue reading “$35,000 was budgeted to celebrate the best bosses in the primary sector”

Why the Nats can welcome the decision to let Immigration Minister stay

No-one  had ever thought of  him   as  a  potential Olympic  performer  but Iain Lees-Galloway’s  back  somersault with double twist  this  week  would surely have  qualified  him.

If he  doesn’t make  it to Tokyo,  he  still  won  an award from  the  Prime Minister – he retained his job as   Immigration  Minister, despite calls from the Opposition for his resignation.

It  may  be  something he comes to regret,  for   he  now  carries  the   stigma  of a minister  who is little short of  a walking disaster,  one who can’t be left to make a decision on  his own.

He  may be   grateful  that  Deputy PM  Winston Peters  sought to defend him in the  House, although Peters in effect  gave   the  game  away  when he conceded  Lees-Galloway  had  made  a  “mistake”. Continue reading “Why the Nats can welcome the decision to let Immigration Minister stay”

The Trough Monitor is triggered as $140m of PGF deals are announced on the West Coast

The PM was down on the West Coast this morning, along with Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, keeping the Point of Order Trough Monitor busy while they announced $140 million of deals from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Loans for the Ruatapu Garnet Project, Westland Milk Products, and the Punakaiki Rest Wellness Centre were among the beneficiaries.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke wasn’t impressed. Continue reading “The Trough Monitor is triggered as $140m of PGF deals are announced on the West Coast”

Economic health of NZ’s port sector is being brought into question

Significant questions are being raised about the economic efficiency and competitiveness of the port sector.

Reports this week of the  Commerce Commission receiving complaints  about  anti-competitive conduct   by  NZ   port companies  follow the  Office of the Auditor-General   writing to port company chairs and  CEOs to raise a raft of issues identified  in its annual audit of the  sector.

The  OAG  had  found  considerable  variation in port companies’ approach to valuations.

Others  involved in the industry are convinced  many ports  are  making  uneconomic  investment  decisions,  some  companies earning  less  than  2%   return on  equity.  They  back  the OAG   who  advised  port companies  to use   fair value, based on expected  cash flows to be  generated.

The  complaints to the Commerce  Commission have spurred  it to start a preliminary assessment of the conduct that is being questioned but it hasn’t embarked on a formal investigation. The  report  said a number of these complaints raised potential issues about various ports taking advantage of their market power in markets for the supply of services.

The national port network is also under review from legislators with the upper North Island supply chain study underpinning the government’s desire to integrate port, rail and road transport infrastructure.

Continue reading “Economic health of NZ’s port sector is being brought into question”

The trough monitor: new awards and fresh slops for snouts

The Point of Order Trough Monitor went quiet for a few hours earlier this week.

Our fears it might need repairs were allayed when it alerted us to:

  • The first Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Awards for exceptional young people in state care (to be presented at a ceremony in Parliament next week) and the recognition of the best primary sector employers at an awards evening at Parliament.
  • Mention by Julie Anne Genter of a $300,000 trough to benefit women and girls, grandly named the Suffrage 125 Community Fund, and Tracey Martin’s announcement of a brand-new trough,  a stand-alone Lottery Fund to help communities benefit from the 2021 America’s Cup.
  • A flurry of announcements from Shane Jones.  We will deal with these in a separate post.

Continue reading “The trough monitor: new awards and fresh slops for snouts”

The collateral damage from Trump’s trade wars includes 1400 American workers at GM

Our New York correspondent reports that President Trump has told GM (General Motors) it had “better get back [to Ohio] soon” after the company said it will shut five factories in the US and Canada and eliminate about 14,000 jobs, more than 10% of its North American work force.

The churlish Trump has also threatened to cut off the company’s supply of government subsidies.

He’s obviously rankled that the GM decision may remind voters of his election promises to regenerate the auto industry.  It will expose, too, the economic folly of his trade warring.

GM says the decision is a response to a slowdown in new-car sales, as consumers prefer sport-utility vehicles and smaller trucks in response to low gasoline prices

It will drop several models while moving to compact cars and a plug-in hybrid, likely overturning -parts supply chains and portending big shifts in auto manufacturing strategies and the US industrial economy. Continue reading “The collateral damage from Trump’s trade wars includes 1400 American workers at GM”

Five Eyes are widened as the US sets sights on curbing Chinese influence

Australian media have been reporting the Five Eyes alliance has broadened intelligence-sharing activities to Germany and Japan to combat China.

The increased cooperation by the alliance – Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States – is said to be  a sign of a broadening international front against Chinese influence operations and investments.

According  to  the  media reports, the enhanced cooperation amounts to an informal expansion of the Five Eyes group on the specific issue of foreign interference.

Perhaps  coincidentally,  the  agency  in  NZ    which  processes   the intelligence  from  its partners,  the  GCSB,  has identified  “a  significant  security risk” associated with Spark  NZ’s  application  for  the deployment of Huawei 5G equipment in the planned 5G Radio Access Network (RAN). Continue reading “Five Eyes are widened as the US sets sights on curbing Chinese influence”