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.

The Point of Order monitor of Beehive press statements in the past week brings no surprises.  The whereabouts of Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Climate Change Minister James Shaw have been given widespread media coverage in recent days – but for the record:

Continue reading “Today is Tuesday – so where in the world will the Minister be?”

Pacific Reset – what Labour really thinks about it will be seen when US ships arrive

Left-wing  blogger Chris Trotter,  in  one of his  recent essays, questions whether PM Jacinda Ardern is really running the government or is merely its figurehead.

He  cited  several  examples of the PM  appearing to be unaware  of  key policy decisions  and  questioned  whether allowing her leading Cabinet Ministers to simply get on with the job is a central feature of her management style.

I hope  not.  It would suggest that Ardern has chosen the role of figurehead rather than leader. That her job is to supply the warm and sympathetic face of the Coalition Government while the heavy-hitters of her Cabinet – Winston Peters, Grant Robertson, David Parker, Phil Twyford, Meagan Woods and Shane Jones – carry out the day-to-day business of governing the country”. Continue reading “Pacific Reset – what Labour really thinks about it will be seen when US ships arrive”

Spooks, banks and a difference of opinion about security and privacy

Two  critical  reports by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS), Cheryl Gwyn, have focussed  on the practice of  New Zealand’s  intelligence agencies acquiring personal information  about customers by seeking voluntary disclosure from NZ banks.

The IGIS’s role is to ensure NZ’s two dedicated intelligence and security agencies, the NZ Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), act lawfully and properly.

Until Parliament enacted a new law in 2017, the Intelligence and  Security Act, the intelligence agencies could seek “voluntary”  disclosure from  banks of  customers’ personal  data.

Under the  2017 legislation  the  intelligence agencies  are required to seek this kind of information under warrants of which there are two  types.  Continue reading “Spooks, banks and a difference of opinion about security and privacy”

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

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

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

Ministers proudly announce an array of other appointments, such as judges and overseas envoys.

Point of Order’s weekly monitoring of Beehive press statements to learn who has been favoured by ministerial appointments in the past week shows this … Continue reading “Ministerial appointments monitor – jobs for the boys (and jobs for the girls, too)”

The Trough Monitor – Jones shells out big-time on mussels (among other things)

The Point of Order Trough Monitor had a frenetic morning,  as three press statements from the Beehive alerted us to Shane Jones dipping yet again into the Provincial Growth Fund. He got a grip on $25 million and tossed it at the Bay of Plenty.

The great bulk of it – up to $19,850,000 – is pitched at projects to develop “a sustainable mussel farming operation in Ōpōtiki”.

Jones, the country’s beneficent Regional Economic Development Minister, mentioned the Maori god of the sea while trying to explain his generosity.  Taxpayers money, it seems, is being put to the dubious purpose of appeasing or mollifying the creatures of Maori mythology.

But as a reassuring reminder he indeed is operating in the 21st century, Jones also declared an intention to improve “connectivity” in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. This seems to have something to do with information technology: the press statement contains jargon such as RBI2 and MBSF.
Continue reading “The Trough Monitor – Jones shells out big-time on mussels (among other things)”

NZ’s role in missile control gives Peters a boost on US mission

Before   flying out  on his  Washington  mission,  Deputy PM Winston Peters  announced  (in his  role  as Disarmament and Arms Control Minister) that NZ will take up the chair of the Missile Technology Control Regime later next year.

Peters  says NZ’s emerging space industry makes it particularly relevant at this time that it  works on effective international control of sensitive missile-related technologies. NZ will host the annual plenary meeting in Auckland in October 2019, which is expected to attract over 200 delegates.

The  issue  may be  high  on  the agenda  for his talks in  Washington,  where  Peters  has  appointments with  key figures of the  Trump  administration, including  Vice-president   Mike Pence,  Secretary of  State  Michael R Pompeo, National Security Adviser  John Bolton and  Director of National  Intelligence  Dan Coats. Continue reading “NZ’s role in missile control gives Peters a boost on US mission”

The Trough Monitor: good housing news (if you are one of the chosen kaumātua )

The Point of Order Trough Monitor was triggered today by a press statement issued in the names of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Housing Minister and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

They have dipped into the $15 million Māori Housing Fund and announced the recipient of the first handout.

The aim is to build six flats for kaumātua.

Continue reading “The Trough Monitor: good housing news (if you are one of the chosen kaumātua )”

Greenpeace gets heated over decision to protect exports and keep farming out of ETS

Greenpeace  has  got its  knickers  in a  twist  over the government’s decision   not to include  agriculture  within  the emissions trading scheme  as part of   reforms   which the government  says  will  help  improve the  operation of  the  scheme.

But  Greenpeace registers  “disbelief”   that what it calls  the country’s biggest polluter  is  still being excluded from the  scheme.

Point of Order,  noting the  increasing   stridency  of Greenpeace lobbying  on  climate change, believes it  reflects the organisation’s dismay  that the  Green  Party  is  not  doing its  job  (as Greenpeace  sees it) on  climate  change.

Almost  certainly  Winston Peters, as  leader of NZ  First,  put the   kibosh on  bringing  agriculture into the ETS. He  knows it would  not only  choke  the country’s leading export industries   but   kill  off  any support  NZ First  has tried to  win by  portraying itself  as  the “saviour”  of  failing provincial  economies. Continue reading “Greenpeace gets heated over decision to protect exports and keep farming out of ETS”

Two outstanding women are appointed to top public service jobs

Outside  the  Wellington  Beltway,  not  much   attention  has been paid to  two key appointments in the state sector.   Both  posts  go to   outstanding  women  leaders  who  for  several  years  have  fulfilled  the  early  promise they  showed  in the public service.

After  a successful  career at the Ministry of  Foreign Affairs and Trade,  where   she has  been  serving Deputy Secretary, Multilateral and Legal Affairs Group,  Bernadette  Cavanagh  will  take over as  CEO  of  the  Ministry of Culture & Heritage  from February 1.  There   had been  speculation   Cavanagh, a   daughter of   former  PM  Jim Bolger,   could be a  candidate to  succeed  Brook Barrington as head of  MFAT  when  he  moves over to the DPMC.

The  other  key  appointment  by State Sector Commissioner  Peter Hughes   is to the  post of Comptroller  of Customs,  a  role    which has  assumed   increasing  importance  because of the  reliance on  border security and management in  protecting  the  NZ   economy.        Continue reading “Two outstanding women are appointed to top public service jobs”

Brexit: Theresa May stays as PM in a Tory decision to postpone a decision

LONDON CORRESPONDENT:   Readers with a good memory may recall an earlier categorisation of Brexit as an endless negotiation. On Wednesday, it shifted into Britain’s governing Conservative party, when 48 MPs requisitioned a party leadership vote.

The party whips brought this on with remarkable alacrity and by the end of the day, Prime Minister Theresa May was still standing.

Unfortunately for the governing party, this looks like a decision to postpone a decision.  The Conservatives are not just the party charged with delivering Brexit: they (or at least their members and voters, if not their MPs) are the party of Brexit.  And the plan May brought back from Brussels – with so many commitments and a potentially endless ‘transition’ – does not appear to deliver Brexit. Continue reading “Brexit: Theresa May stays as PM in a Tory decision to postpone a decision”