Trough Monitor alerts us to farmers (of all people) getting Govt funding to help deal with waste

We had never regarded the Green Party’s Eugenie Sage as a friend of farmers, but as Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage she has announced $381,000 in Government funding to enable farmers and growers to better deal with waste.

It’s a modest sum, fair to say.  Almost negligible.  But it was big enough to be registered by the Point of Order Trough Monitor (which leaves it to readers to determine if this is good or bad government spending).

The funding, from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund, will mean farmers and growers can more easily recycle or safely dispose of a wider range of on-farm waste such as agrichemicals, scrap metal, soft plastics and used oil.

Rural recycling programme Agrecovery will manage the project by offering one-stop-shop events where farmers and growers can drop off waste.  The events will accept a wide variety of waste over and above what Agrecovery’s existing agrichemical scheme accepts. Continue reading “Trough Monitor alerts us to farmers (of all people) getting Govt funding to help deal with waste”

The police are prepared to pay top whack to be – guess what? – “marketed” and “branded”

The NZ Herald tells us the Police are seeking a top public relations person in a salary packet better than Winston Peters is paid as deputy PM.

Police are offering between $256, 700 and $347, 300 for a job to be grandly known as deputy chief executive:  media and communications.

The appointee obviously will need a double-door entrance to his or her office for the job title to be put on it in a readable font.

The Herald notes that the pay packet compares with a starting  salary for a police officer of about $70,000 including allowances and overtime.

This news was delivered around the same time as David Farrar, at Kiwiblog, did us all a service by reporting that within the executive branch of the government, we have two fewer Ministers but the same number of staff to support them. Continue reading “The police are prepared to pay top whack to be – guess what? – “marketed” and “branded””

The Mueller report – it all began with the FBI in an impossible position in 2016


The Mueller report on alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government is with the US Justice Department.  The Attorney-General (with every degree of plausibility) says that there is no case to answer on the main charge.

Do we know who has won and whether it matters?

In an environment where the middle ground has narrowed to vanishing point, it looks like a big victory for Trump.  His opponents had charged him with quasi-treason. The charges could not be sustained.  Their over-reach raises questions about their judgment and sustains Trump’s narrative that political and media elites are out to get him.

The half of the country that is sympathetic to Trump has been given a reminder of why they might want to support him for re-election in 2020. Continue reading “The Mueller report – it all began with the FBI in an impossible position in 2016”

PM’s China visit will show us if there are political benefits in a global halo

Prime  Minister  Jacinda Ardern’s  mission  to  Beijing is  crucial   for  the  relationship  between  the two  countries,  not  just because it  could give a vital  nudge  to the negotiation  of a  revamped  free trade agreement.

But it  will  offer  an  insight into   whether the global halo  effect on  Ardern   as a  consequence of  her  actions in the wake of the appalling  Christchurch massacre  translates  into  a  solid   political  influence.

Even though  she has had  to pare  back  the mission, eliminating  visits to  two other Chinese  cities,   she  is still due to  meet  President  Xi  Jinping  and Premier  Li  Keqiang,  (and she will  open  the  new  complex housing the  NZ embassy). Continue reading “PM’s China visit will show us if there are political benefits in a global halo”

The Trough Monitor: Nanaia Mahuta dishes out $1.2m housing investment to community near Wairoa

The Point of Order Trough Monitor tells us Nanaia Mahuta has been dishing out our money under one of the Government’s many redistribution programmes.

She announced the handout in a statement headed Minister congratulates Raupunga on commitment to housing initiatives.

Māori Development Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta today announced a further $1.2m investment in the small community of Raupunga, in the Hawkes Bay.

This investment will be used to construct a five home papakāinga on the Lemuel Te Urupu Whānau Trust’s ancestral land along with much needed housing repairs.

The land is substantially Māori freehold with some general title land returned to Ngāti Pāhauwera as part of a Treaty settlement.

Mahuta congratulated Raupunga on making significant steps towards its vision of being a confident, vibrant and prosperous community. Continue reading “The Trough Monitor: Nanaia Mahuta dishes out $1.2m housing investment to community near Wairoa”

Transgender rights – sorting out the myths (but not getting things quite right)

An article posted on the Stuff website is headed Transgender rights debate: Separating the facts from the fiction

The writer, one Cecile Meier, might usefully have consulted a recent Point of Order report before deciding she had put the misunderstandings to rights – at least on the political process.

Her article rightly says transgender people have to go through a long and costly process to change the sex on their birth certificate.  This involves an application to the Family Court providing proof they’ve had medical treatment to transition.

The process for changing a New Zealand licence or passport is much simpler: people need only make a statutory declaration, which involves an authorised witness or justice of the peace.

At issue is whether birth certificates should be changed as easily a driving licence or passport. Continue reading “Transgender rights – sorting out the myths (but not getting things quite right)”

Anyone else want to weaken local government democracy? Oh, yes – the Hastings District Council

The Hastings District Council is about to decide if it, too, should debase its democratic governance system and grant voting rights to unelected members who will sit alongside elected councillors on its standing committees.

A proposal to amend constitutional arrangements and weaken the council’s lines of accountability to citizens and ratepayers will be considered by the council at its next full council meeting on Thursday.  

After how much robust public debate?

Good question.

The aim – according to a council press statement – is to

” … bring about more informed, inclusive, effective decision making.”  Continue reading “Anyone else want to weaken local government democracy? Oh, yes – the Hastings District Council”

Australians to spend $2.46bn on jets for electronic missions

In a further purchase illustrating the emerging gulf between Tasman defence capabilities, the Australian government is spending $A2.46bn  on four Gulfstream G550 Peregrine business jets to be modified in the US modified for the electronic warfare (EW) mission.

Defence Minister Chris Pyne says the Peregrine is a new airborne electronic warfare capability which will be integrated into Defence’s joint war-fighting networks, providing a critical link between platforms, including the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, the Boeing E-7A Wedgetail, EA-18G Growler electronic strike aircraft warships and Army assets.

The aircraft will be based at RAAF Edinburgh in South Australia alongside the RAAF P-8A Poseidons and its incoming fleet of Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton UAVs. In addition, the RAAF’s future contingent of MQ-9 Reapers will operate from the base.

Modifications will include mission systems and secure communications equipment. The work will be undertaken at L3’s Greenville site in Texas.

A self-protection suite will also be installed, with other programme elements to include ground-based data processing systems, plus spare parts and crew training services.

The RAAF says the 2016 defence White Paper indicated there was an electronic warfare co-ordination role not being filled. Officers say the G550 will serve as  “ the conductor of the orchestra”.

Happiness Report co-editor notes the importance of resilience and the ability to cope with bad things

This nation was in a state of deep sorrow in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosques atrocity, when the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network released its World Happiness Report.

The report ranks countries on six elements: freedom, generosity, healthy life expectancy, income, social support and trust.

Finland – a country known for its  long, dark winters and short summers bathed in almost continuous light – is number one after ranking fifth last year.

The top 10 countries tend to score highly in all six variables, as well as emotional measures of well-being, John Helliwell, co-editor of the report, told CNN.

This doesn’t mean the citizens of the high-ranking countries walk around smiling all the time.  Rather, they are able to push through in moments of crisis and sadness.

“What stands out about the happiest and most well connected societies is their resilience and ability to deal with bad things,” Helliwell said.

Point of Order checked out the Stuff report of the rankings and found a geographical error:

New Zealand, which ranked eighth this year (bested only by Nordic countries like Switzerland and the Netherlands), is one such resilient country.

Social support was one of the main factors for New Zealanders ranking so high in happiness. New Zealand is increasingly thinking about supporting well-being on a government, as well as individual or casual, level.

The Washington Post carried two reports, one of which was headed New Zealand is one of the world’s happiest countries. That also makes it resilient.

This was the source of the Stuff report but  – it should be noted – the editorial team in Washington didn’t make Stuff’s geographical error:

New Zealand, which ranked eighth this year (bested only by the Nordic countries, Switzerland and the Netherlands), is one such resilient country.

A second report in the Washington Post – in contrast – said Americans are the unhappiest they’ve ever been, U.N. report finds. An ‘epidemic of addictions’ could be to blame.

Moments after Jimmy Kimmel walked onto the set of his late-night show, he noted that Wednesday was a special day.

“Today is the happiest day of the year,” Kimmel said.

That may be true for Finland, which for the second consecutive year was crowned the happiest country in the world by the World Happiness Report, released Wednesday in conjunction with the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness.

But for the United States, not so much.

Americans are unhappy, according to the report, an annual list ranking the overall happiness levels of 156 countries — and it’s only getting worse.

For the third year in a row, the US has dropped in the ranking and now sits at No. 19, one spot lower than last year, according to the report produced by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, a UN initiative. The top three spots this year were occupied by Finland, Denmark and Norway. At the bottom were Afghanistan, Central African Republic and South Sudan.

The United States’ current rank marks its worst showing since the report was first released in 2012. The country has never cracked the top 10, The Washington Post’s Amy B Wang reported in 2017.

Researchers posit the USA’s declining happiness is likely due to an “epidemic of addictions,” which includes everything from substance abuse and gambling to social media usage and risky sexual behaviors.

Another factor that may contribute to lower happiness levels is the increasing amount of time people, especially adolescents, are spending absorbed in their electronic devices, the report said.

In Britain, the Daily Mail reported the rankings under this heading: The world’s happiest countries REVEALED: Finland comes top while South Sudan is the bleakest as the UK climbs the table and the US falls to its lowest ranking EVER

Finland has been crowned the happiest country in the world for the second year in a row, leading a top ten that is made up of five Nordic nations.

The World Happiness Report, released today, ranked 156 countries by happiness levels, based on factors such as life expectancy, social support and corruption.

But while the Nordic nations of Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland topped the table, there was no sign of Britain in the top ten.

The UK placed 15th, up from 19th last year, one above Ireland and four above the US but Britain still trailed behind the likes of Israel, Austria, Costa Rica, Australia, Luxembourg, Canada and New Zealand.

The North African nation of South Sudan was at the bottom of the happiness index which found America was getting less happy each year even as the country became richer – falling from 14th place in two years.

The bottom ten also included Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Yemen, Malawi, Syria, Botswana, Haiti and Zimbabwe.

Russia was 68th – down from 59th – France 24th and China 93rd. at No. 19, one spot lower than last year.

In its report (headed Happiness and economic growth does not guarantee rising happiness), The Economist said:

Philosophers from Aristotle to the Beatles have argued that money does not buy happiness. But it seems to help. Since 2005 Gallup, a pollster, has asked a representative sample of adults from countries across the world to rate their life satisfaction on a scale from zero to ten. The headline result is clear: the richer the country, on average, the higher the level of self-reported happiness. The simple correlation suggests that doubling GDP per person lifts life satisfaction by about 0.7 points.

Yet the prediction that as a country gets richer its mood will improve has a dubious record. In 1974 Richard Easterlin, an economist, discovered that average life satisfaction in America had stagnated between 1946 and 1970 even as GDP per person had grown by 65% over the same period. He went on to find a similar disconnect in other places, too.

Income is correlated with happiness when looking across countries and economic downturns are reliable sources of temporary misery.  But long-term GDP growth does not seem to be enough to turn the average frown upside-down.

Britain’s Brexit brouhaha brings down a reputation for stability and good governance


The UK is due to leave the EU on Friday next week without arrangements for either a transition or a future relationship.   Prime Minister Theresa May wants a short delay to see if she can finally get Britain’s Parliament to agree to her exit plan.  The EU is likely to grant it.

This sort of end game was always probable given the importance of the issues at stake.  The delay will ratchet up the pressure on all of the parties, until one of them cracks.

Readers of this blog will know the background by heart.  Britain’s Conservative party government has spent two years negotiating a transition and exit agreement.  The draft agreement is a relatively ‘soft Brexit’ intended to align the UK with the EU’s trading and regulatory arrangements and making these hard to change without leaving Northern Ireland, part of the UK’s sovereign territory, subject to EU rules. Continue reading “Britain’s Brexit brouhaha brings down a reputation for stability and good governance”