Ministerial appointments – jobs for the boys (but gender balance and diversity are not overlooked)

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 dispense favours by making appointments or recommending them.

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

Point of Order’s monitoring of Beehive press statements to learn who has been favoured by ministerial appointments in April shows this … Continue reading “Ministerial appointments – jobs for the boys (but gender balance and diversity are not overlooked)”

Today is Tuesday – so where on earth will we find the Minister?

Our report on Winston Peters’ travels to the Nordic countries  prompted us to check the Point of Order monitor of ministerial globetrotting.

The monitor kicked off the month by registering the PM’s brief trip to China and includes the announcement of a follow-up visit by David Parker.

For the record, here’s what we learn about ministers’ use of public money for international travel.  Continue reading “Today is Tuesday – so where on earth will we find the Minister?”

Check out Peters’ stamina and Nordic travel plans before conjecturing on his political future

After  a gruelling  three  months as  the  key   figure of   Jacinda Ardern’s coalition,  Foreign  Minister   Winston Peters  might have  been looking  forward    to   a  quiet  Easter  at  his  Northland seaside  hideout.  Instead he’s  on  a  weeklong    mission  to  the  capitals  of   four   Nordic  countries  as  part  of    what he  calls   a  “deliberate and  targeted” effort.

He  says   NZ   needs to be  “well-positioned” in a changing  European landscape, particularly post-Brexit.

It is important to maintain bonds with countries which share our values for rules-based international order, and there is much we can learn from these countries”. Continue reading “Check out Peters’ stamina and Nordic travel plans before conjecturing on his political future”

Replacing the Phillips Curve: economists promote new models about inflation and unemployment

Point of Order’s post today – dare we admit it? – is somewhat PC.

PC for Phillips Curve.

The curve is the subject of a puzzle in macroeconomic policy –  why inflation remains so low when the unemployment rate is at multi-decade lows.

Peter Dixon, a British blogger and macroeconomist working in the financial services industry, puts it this way:   

The evidence clearly suggests that the trade-off between inflation and unemployment is far weaker today than it used to be or, as the economics profession would have it, the Phillips curve is flatter than it once was (here).

We were steered to Dixon’s thoughts by Roger Farmer’s blog on economics, which features a series of exchanges on merits of the Phillips Curve.  

But let’s start with a brief note about the bloke who gave his name to the curve.  

Alban William Housego “A. W.” “Bill” Phillips, MBE was a New Zealand economist who spent most of his academic career as a professor of economics at the London School of Economics. His best-known contribution to economics is the Phillips curve, which he first described in 1958. Continue reading “Replacing the Phillips Curve: economists promote new models about inflation and unemployment”

Assisted dying: professor advises against snuffing reform today from fear of what legislators might do in the future

Otago law professor Andrew Geddis highlighted important realities about law-making in a response to Maxim Institute chief executive Alex Penk’s  concerns about the End of Life Choice Bill currently awaiting a second reading in Parliament. T

Some of Penk’s concerns are misplaced, Geddis said.  Others are missing some important context.

Penk’s article, headed MPs should examine facts on euthanasia, rather than crystal balls, notes that David Seymour’s End of Life Choice Bill – if it passes the parliamentary process – is likely to require a referendum at the 2020 general election.

In other words, the public will get to decide on the legalising of euthanasia and assisted suicide.  This should take care of the doubts Penk raises about the extent of public support for voluntary euthanasia.

But another of Penk’s problems is that the public haven’t been given good information.

Continue reading “Assisted dying: professor advises against snuffing reform today from fear of what legislators might do in the future”

Muneficent ministers go south with their millions (and demonstrate their prowess with te reo place names)

Was that the Easter bunny?

No – and there was more than one delivery of Easter goodies.

This lot did not go to the Far North.

The Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, delivered his largess (paid for by taxpayers) to the top of the South Island.  The Point of Order Trough Monitor was immediately alerted.

His press statement referred to a region he called Te Tauihu (not to  be confused with Wellington’s Te Tauihu, the name of Wellington City Council’s te reo policy. Continue reading “Muneficent ministers go south with their millions (and demonstrate their prowess with te reo place names)”

The prickly issue of Treaty rights and governance: should NZ do things by halves or defend its democracy?

Point of Order was handsomely rewarded when we emailed a Victoria University of Wellington law lecturer with questions about the propriety and legality of cracking eggs on the heads of unpopular politicians.  Within two hours Māmari Stephens had addressed the issues we raised with a well-considered response.

The response was somewhat briefer when we emailed the university with questions raised by an article on its website headed Academics commend Hastings District Council for inclusive, effective decision-making.

The article was prompted by the council’s decision to appoint Māori representatives with speaking and voting rights to its four standing committees, sparing them the need to campaign for election as the councillors who made the decision had been obliged to do.

The council press statement which announced the decision noted:

  • The prospect of greater tangata whenua representation in council decision making, in a district where 25 per cent of the population is Māori, has been under discussion for at least two years …

And

  • Although the Hastings District Council currently has five councillors who have identified as being of Maori descent, it was noted that they were elected on their wider merits, rather than on a solely Maori mandate.

The council website says the elected council is made up of the Mayor and 14 Councillors.

This means 33% of the council which decided in favour of appointed representatives “to be more inclusive and hear the voice of our iwi partners” identify as being of Maori descent. Continue reading “The prickly issue of Treaty rights and governance: should NZ do things by halves or defend its democracy?”

The capital gains tax is scrapped – but revenue raisers are looking for other ways to skin us

Cabinet,  we  are  told,  has  signed off  on  the  budget,  to be  presented   next  month. This  year  the focus  is to be   on  “well-being”.

It’s a phrase  that  captures  the  style  of  the  Prime  Minister   Jacinda  Ardern.  If  the  budget  delivers,  it  will  reinforce  public perceptions  of  Labour’s  leadership whose  ratings  have  shot up  in  the  wake of the Christchurch  mosque  massacre.

But  will the  budget  be  “transformative”?

NZ’s  economy  under Labour over the past  six months  has shown  increasing   signs of   slowing.

Recent indicators  of a weakening economy include rising job-seeker numbers, stalled job growth, a rising cost of living, lower economic growth forecasts by all major banks, weakening business confidence,  and the Reserve Bank  signalling a cut in interest rates  to stimulate economic activity. Continue reading “The capital gains tax is scrapped – but revenue raisers are looking for other ways to skin us”

Secrecy around hostage nurse’s plight has been lifted by a Red Cross anxious to get information

The dichotomy between the New Zealand government and the International Red Cross over NZ/Cook Islands nurse Louisa Akavi should be seen in terms of the conflict between “need to know” on the part of the IRC and the government’s determination to seek her release.

On one hand, the IRC felt it had reached an impasse, exhausted its resources and believed releasing her name might flush out information on whether she was still in captivity – or possibly died from various causes.

On the other hand, the government here believed there was still time to press ahead with inquiries.  In this respect, NZ’s membership of the oft-criticised “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing arrangements, has been critically important. Continue reading “Secrecy around hostage nurse’s plight has been lifted by a Red Cross anxious to get information”

We can make a meal of irksome politicians at one end of the protest spectrum – or leave them shell-shocked at the other

Forget about cracking eggs over the heads of politicians with whom you have a difference of opinion.  As Brits were reminded the other day, in the 17th century a mob of Dutch protesters hanged and mutilated prime minister Johan de Witt and – so it is said – ate bits of his body.

A Brexit campaigner who worked for Boris Johnson recalled this extreme form  of Dutch protest when he shared a meme joking that Theresa May should be killed and eaten, it was revealed last week. 

Economist Gerard Lyons, who backs a ‘clean’ No Deal, was rebuked after he forwarded on the ‘extreme’ message on a WhatsApp group that also contains some Tory MPs.

Mr Lyons, who was an adviser to Boris Johnson when he was Mayor of London, claims he shared the message on the ‘Brexit outreach group’ by accident and said today: ‘I do not endorse it’.

The offending message was a picture of 17th-century Dutch prime minister Johan de Witt, with the caption: ‘In 1672, a mob of angry Dutch killed and ate their prime minister. Options. Just sayin’ .’ Continue reading “We can make a meal of irksome politicians at one end of the protest spectrum – or leave them shell-shocked at the other”