Taxpayers Union frets at social spending – but look who is in the queue to complain about being short-changed

The Taxpayers Union was unlikely to see much merit in the Wellbeing Budget and has issued a bundle of statements to complain –

  • The Government’s ‘wellbeing’ focus is just an excuse for billions of dollars of poorly-targeted spending (here),
  • Between 2018 and 2021, social security and welfare spending is expected to sky-rocket from $26 billion to $32.4 billion a year, a 25 percent increase in just three years. (here).  “Fiscal discipline has been jettisoned in favour of a classic Labour welfare spend-up.”
  • Pouring another billion dollars into KiwiRail shows terrible business acumen (here).  “As a State Owned Enterprise, KiwiRail is required to be as profitable as possible, yet it has never paid a single cent in dividends to the Government – despite receiving more than $5 billion of Government funding since 2008. Pouring an additional billion dollars into KiwiRail will not change reality – KiwiRail will never be a profitable company.”
  • Race-based spending initiatives announced in the Wellbeing-Budget (such as an extra $80 million for Whanau Ora) will lead to wasteful and unfair outcomes (here).  Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says many Maori and Pasifika spending initiatives are either vague or over-ambitious. For example, “why is the Government spending taxpayer money to ‘strengthen personal identity and connection to the community’? Is it even capable of achieving that?”
  • With business investment growth expected to fall from 6.8 percent in 2018 to 0.7 percent in 2019, the Government needs to reconsider its economic strategy (here). “Tax cuts for businesses and individuals would be a great start.”

But The Maori Council’s disappointment that Maori have been short-changed can be found in their post-Budget statement, headed Government has failed Maori across the board.

Continue reading “Taxpayers Union frets at social spending – but look who is in the queue to complain about being short-changed”

Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters

Many New  Zealanders may  be unaware that China, home to  half the world’s pigs, is suffering  a  catastrophic outbreak of African swine fever.  According  to  one  authoritative estimate, the disease may have  wiped out one-third of the population  of 500m  pigs.

The  London  “Economist”  says  that for as long  as it takes  China’s pig industry  to recover —which may be   years—farmers  elsewhere  may have  cause to  celebrate.  Yet  foreign producers cannot  make up  the vast amount of production  which  will be  lost —and American pig farmers have tariffs imposed on them as part of the ongoing trade  war  with China.

So, as  Point of Order sees it,  a big opportunity is opened for  NZ  food  producers, particularly  meat exporters,  to  be  diverting  as  much of their product  as  they can to  China.

And where’s  Foreign Minister Winston Peters  or  Trade  Minister  David Parker  in  promoting  meat sales to  China? Continue reading “Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters”

Judge’s ruling in Boris case raises the idea of jailing all politicians who lie – but would this quickly fill our prisons?

The headline on an article in the New York Times a few years ago asserted:  “All Politicians Lie. Some Lie More Than Others.”

The article was written by a political fact-checker who – not surprisingly – found Donald J. Trump’s record on truth and accuracy was “astonishingly poor”.

At that time – when Trump was campaigning to become the Republican presidential candidate – her team had checked more than 70 Trump statements and rated fully 75% of them as Mostly False, False or “Pants on Fire” (the last category covered claims that were both inaccurate and ridiculous).

Trump has told many more lies since then. According to the tally published in The Washington Post in November last year, he had told 6,420 lies in his presidency.  In the seven weeks leading up to the mid-term elections, his rate increased to 30 per day.

The question we are raising at Point of Order today is whether political lying should be a crime and, if so, what the penalty should be.  Why not a stretch in prison? 

Our thinking has been triggered by Boris Johnson, Britain’s rumpled former foreign secretary, being called to answer for the lie at the heart of his Brexit campaign. Continue reading “Judge’s ruling in Boris case raises the idea of jailing all politicians who lie – but would this quickly fill our prisons?”

Setting a suicide-reduction target might have been detrimental to the govt’s wellbeing

The headline on a statement released from the PM’s Office on the eve of the official release of the Wellbeing Budget tells us the government is Taking mental health and addiction seriously.

To demonstrate this, the government has accepted, accepted in principle, or agreed to further consideration of 38 of the 40 recommendations in the report of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.

This raises an obvious question:  which two recommendations have been rejected?

The press statement gives the answer:

  • The Directing the State Services Commission to report on options for creating a ‘locus of responsibility’ for social wellbeing within Government; and
  • Set a target of 20% reduction in suicide rates by 2030.

Continue reading “Setting a suicide-reduction target might have been detrimental to the govt’s wellbeing”

European elections: How a vote about nothing became a vote for something

It doesn’t really get much more seismic than this.   The Brexit party registered 89 days before the European elections, took first place and 32% of the British vote, reducing the opposition Labour party to 14% and the governing Conservative party to single figures, perhaps even threatening their existences.  But the BBC (and some other media) thought that it was also important to point out that “parties opposed to the UK’s exit from the EU secured more votes [40%] than those advocating a no-deal Brexit [35%]“.

This risks missing the point.  The vote for a parliament which the British MPs are due to leave looks like an indicative referendum with the following approximate results: parties supporting no-deal Brexit (35%); parties committed to keeping Britain in the EU (40%) and parties pledged to Brexit and not sure what to do (25%).   Continue reading “European elections: How a vote about nothing became a vote for something”

Soper throws some light on case of man “in a very dark place” over Parliamentary harassment report

Parliament is the place where laws are made. Justice is dispensed elsewhere, as the bloke stood down from Parliament after publication of the Francis report probably would attest.

Veteran Parliamentary reporter Barry Soper reports that the man

…  was stood down by the closed shop Parliamentary Service last week, which is exempt from the Official Information Act and will not have to release documents over the alleged incident.

The Francis report, dealing with bullying and harassment in Parliament, revealed three serious allegations of sexual harassment. Continue reading “Soper throws some light on case of man “in a very dark place” over Parliamentary harassment report”

Robertson talks about the Well-being Budget – and hints we should brace for the long haul

Finance  Minister   Grant  Robertson  exuded  confidence  in  Parliament on Tuesday  that  his budget  this week  will  tackle “NZ’s  long-term challenges”.

He emphasised “long-term” in  answering  a  patsy question  from  a   Labour back-bencher.  He mentioned “ big difference in this year’s Budget“, which is is that “we have integrated evidence and a range of indicators of well-being at every stage of the budget process”.

Hence the Well-being Budget will enable the government “to track New Zealanders’ success on all of the things that they value”. Continue reading “Robertson talks about the Well-being Budget – and hints we should brace for the long haul”

Defence Force likely to stick with Lockheed Martin when Hercules are replaced

An announcement  for the replacement of the RNZAF’s aged Hercules fleet is close and the chosen candidate is likely to be identified either in the Budget or the coming Defence Capability Plan.

Boeing has made a late attempt to offer the Brazilian Embraer KC390 twin turbofan tactical airlifter, having taken a commercial interest in the project as part of a longer-term plan to develop Embraer’s smaller short-haul airliners.

However, the NZ Defence Force is expected to stay with Lockheed Martin and prefers the C-130J powered by Rolls-Royce AE 2100 D3 turboprop engines with Dowty R391 composite scimitar propellers. Continue reading “Defence Force likely to stick with Lockheed Martin when Hercules are replaced”

Businesses seem gloomy but health-sector companies are in good heart

The PM, Jacinda Ardern, received what her handlers would have perceived  as  unexpected  criticism  from the  media   after   she gave  a pre-budget speech to an Auckland business  audience.  One of those  in the  audience  was   said to  have   described   it  as  an   “ideological fairytale”;  others   apparently  were  disappointed   it had  “nothing for business”.   

Given   she  did list  as   two of the five priorities  in the budget as   being “creating opportunities for productive businesses, regions, iwi and others to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy; and supporting a thriving nation in the digital age through innovation, social and economic opportunities”,  the criticism itself  could be  regarded as  a    bit  “ideological”.

Surely   business  doesn’t  expect   government hand-outs,  even if  it  is labeled  a  “well-being”  budget?

But  there   seems  little   doubt    that   the   mood of  business  is downhearted   these  days.

Or is it  really?  Continue reading “Businesses seem gloomy but health-sector companies are in good heart”

Air NZ fleet replacement: good news for Boeing as Dash 10 is favoured

Manufacturers had been eagerly awaiting Air NZ’s decision on a replacement for its fleet of Boeing 777-200.

Airbus, with its new A350, had all been but ruled out by industry observers last week because of the cost and complexity of introducing another wide-bodied jet to a small fleet.

The choice therefore was between the new Boeing 777-900 and a later model of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Dash 10.

Air   NZ today confirmed  the decision to purchase eight Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft powered by GE Aviation’s GEnx-1B engines.

At today’s list prices, the agreement represents a value of US $2.7 billion. Continue reading “Air NZ fleet replacement: good news for Boeing as Dash 10 is favoured”