‘Significant security risk’ stymies Spark’s Huawei 5G proposal

Where’s  John  Le  Carre  when  we   need   him?    He  would  revel  in the   storyline   which   lies  behind  the  statement  of  GCSB  director-general  Andrew  Hampton  this afternoon  that he has  informed  Spark NZ  “a  significant  security  risk was identified”.

Hampton went on to say he would be saying no more:

“As there is an ongoing regulatory process I will not be commenting further at this stage. The GCSB treats all notifications it receives as commercially sensitive”.

So what  was  he talking about? Continue reading “‘Significant security risk’ stymies Spark’s Huawei 5G proposal”

May’s Brexit deal looks likely to fail at the first hurdle in Parliament – but what then?

LONDON CORRESPONDENT:  Britain’s parliament will decide on 11 December whether to approve the deal for leaving the European Union negotiated between the EU leadership and the British government.  Most people in the UK and the parliament – with the exception of hapless Prime Minister Theresa May and her band of loyalists – seem to think it’s a pretty bad deal.

Brexiteers hate it because it’s not actually Brexit – it would tie Britain to the EU in ‘temporary’ arrangements which look remarkably durable and which the EU has little incentive to change (see Charles Moore in the Daily Telegraph for a good explanation of this).

Remainers see not a clever compromise based on their premises, but proof incarnate of the folly of the entire Brexit project.

Paradoxically, this mutual loathing gives the deal a chance of acceptance and even the possibility that it may endure for a lengthy period, while Britain tries to settle the ferocious internal disagreements which led to this pass. Continue reading “May’s Brexit deal looks likely to fail at the first hurdle in Parliament – but what then?”

Minister of Finance is ready to change gear – but he didn’t signal to what effect

Finance Minister  Grant Robertson was bullish in telling the party  faithful about the state of the economy at the   Labour Party’s  annual  conference in Dunedin earlier this  month.

One year after the election of the Ardern government’s  the fundamentals of the economy were strong, he said.

“We have just had the strongest quarter of economic growth in two years. We have a sustainable surplus that is allowing us to invest in infrastructure and keep debt under control”.

And  he rounded  off  his  gung-ho report of what the coalition has achieved :

“It is time to change gear on our economy”.

The   question  now  is did  he  mean changing  up to a  higher gear?  Or was he reckoning on dropping it down  one? Continue reading “Minister of Finance is ready to change gear – but he didn’t signal to what effect”

Today is Tuesday – so where in the world will the Minister be?

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.

Sometimes we learn where they have been and what they were doing after they make public announcements on their return home.

The Point of Order monitor of Beehive statements in the past week gives these pointers to ministerial globe-trotting … Continue reading “Today is Tuesday – so where in the world will the Minister be?”

The PSA celebrates membership growth – but public services are expanding too

The State Services Commission declares on its website it is part of the Open Government Partnership, a forum of countries working to be more open, accountable and responsive to citizens.

The State Services Commission is leading this in New Zealand, it says, so at Point of Order we figured we would have no problem getting hold of the latest data to give a measure of the pace of growth in state sector employment numbers.

Our appetite for fresh figures was fuelled by the PSA’s celebrating growth in its membership.  Terrific –  but maybe this growth is an inevitable consequence of growth in public-sector worker numbers.

We found data to the end of June 2017 on the SSC website but wanted to ensure there was no more recent stuff. Continue reading “The PSA celebrates membership growth – but public services are expanding too”

Jacindamania may fade – but not necessarily before the Nats rediscover their mojo

Although  the  rest of the  country may  still be fingering the  results  of  their  Black  Friday  shopping,   no  such  luck  for the   politicians  as  they  move into the  final phase of the  parliamentary  year.

Each of  the  main parties  is  desperate  for a spark  to lift  performance  (and perhaps polling).

PM  Jacinda  Ardern  is taking a shellacking  for   her silence on  China, its  human rights  offences, its cyber-bullying and in particular the  Professor Anne-Marie  Brady  affair. And then,  for  reasons no-one can guess at, she has turned a blind eye  to the disgraceful performance   of   Immigration Minister  Iain Lees-Galloway in  handling  the  issue of  deporting  Czech  drug smuggler   Karel Sroubek.

Is  Jacindamania  fading?  Perhaps not  yet,  but  it soon  will, at this rate. Continue reading “Jacindamania may fade – but not necessarily before the Nats rediscover their mojo”

The trough monitor: easing the way into into the tourism fund and getting kids on to bikes

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

Here’s the latest batch of announcements.

They include an easing of the way into the tourism infrastructure trough to “allow more communities to share the benefits of tourism” and the provision of several million dollars to get kids on bicycles. Continue reading “The trough monitor: easing the way into into the tourism fund and getting kids on to bikes”

Ministerial appointments monitor – jobs for the boys (and jobs for the girls, too)

According to Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa, the government every year makes appointments to 429 state sector boards and committees.

Ministers hence have several opportunities to wield substantial power by making appointments or recommending them, creating a perception that appointments are a form of political patronage.

They also enjoy grabbing the photo opportunities that come with announcing and/or presenting awards.

Point of Order’s monitoring of Beehive press statements to learn who has been favoured by appointments or awards showed it was a light week.  We can only suppose ministers were busy with another aspect of their jobs, spending our money …

Continue reading “Ministerial appointments monitor – jobs for the boys (and jobs for the girls, too)”

The trough monitor: where did the politicians spend our money this week?

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

On the other hand, not all spending is announced in press statements.

Newshub this week revealed a blow-out in the cost of developing the Māori-Crown Relations portfolio blew out by more than $50,000. Continue reading “The trough monitor: where did the politicians spend our money this week?”

Fonterra is big but Mataura (nutritionally) aims to be world’s best

Earlier this week Point of Order  drew  attention to  the   contrasting fortunes of   key  components  within New Zealand’s  dairy  sector,  which  by any account is  a  mainstay of  the country’s  export industry.  In that instance  it  was the contrast  between  the  report  of rising revenue  and  profit  of  specialist  milk supplier  A2 Milk  and  the slide  in  Global Dairy Trade auction prices likely to lead to  another  downgrade in the  milk payout  for Fonterra   suppliers.

The  contrast was  heightened  later in the week, first  with  speculative reports that Fonterra is putting  up for  sale  the  iconic icecream company Tip Top  (which could yield $400m to  reduce debt)  as well  as  its South American  operations.

Then came news of the opening of  a  new $240m plant  near  Gore in Southland. Continue reading “Fonterra is big but Mataura (nutritionally) aims to be world’s best”