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?”
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”
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”
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 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)”
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 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 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”
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”
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”