What would a no-deal Brexit look like?

Throughout the Brexit negotiations, the media have struggled to describe how a no-deal Brexit might work.  Understandable really, as it all depends.  On the actions the parties take; the responses to each other’s actions; and adaptation to new policy realities.

The most recent effort from The Times (see here) sacrificed clarity for comprehensiveness, listing outcomes ranging from the far-fetched (that aerospace companies will abandon their investments and skilled workers and decamp to Europe and China) to the near-inevitable (that volume car manufacturing in the UK is facing serious restructuring). But in speculating on outcomes, it might have missed a chance to explain the choices driving them.

Continue reading “What would a no-deal Brexit look like?”

Councillors vote to save the planet – but hey, there are lots of other issues requiring more immediate attention

Great volumes of hot air have been spouted during debates on climate change – enough, we suspect, to exacerbate the threat of rising temperatures.

Inevitably, the declarations of a climate emergency that flow from these debates are nudged aside while the economic interests of a community are promoted.

The tourism-dependent Queenstown Lakes District Council – for example – has voted 7-4 to declare a climate emergency after a presentation by Extinction Rebellion Queenstown Lakes.

The same council has approved plans for a controversial 113-room hotel in Wanaka’s Northlake special zone, although none of 141 submissions was in support.   Residents opposed the plans because of the hotel’s reducing the area’s open space. Continue reading “Councillors vote to save the planet – but hey, there are lots of other issues requiring more immediate attention”

Head of the NZEI is proud of pay lift but principals are prickly on the parity issue

Cold, hard cash settled the teachers’ dispute, even though there  had  been many high-minded  claims  from the union  over  teachers    leaving  the  profession   because of the  stress of  the  job, and the lack of   classroom  support.

Even  in the wake of the settlement  some leaders   within the profession were wailing  the new  pay  scales  would do  little to  attract   fresh  talent into  the profession.

And let’s face it: that’s what NZ schools need.

There  are  still  enormous gaps  in the  education   system  between  high-performing  schools  and  those  at the  lower end of  the scale.  Critics say  standards  in  NZ schools   fall far below  those  in  advanced  economies  like   Singapore  and  Japan. Continue reading “Head of the NZEI is proud of pay lift but principals are prickly on the parity issue”

Calling for Bills to be read aloud is one stalling tactic – and in NZ we should brace for Maggie’s amendments

A reform bill aimed at further regulating the fossil fuel industry was seen as a certainty for passage in the American state of Colorado, where Democrats control both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office.

But wait.  Republicans, historically supported by the gas and oil industry and determined to stall its enactment, invoked a rule which entitles them to ask for bills to be read aloud on the Senate floor.

They used this device to require the reading aloud of a 2,000-page bill (unrelated to the energy bill).  It was estimated the reading would take some 60 hours.

Democrats read for nearly four hours before coming up with a plan:  they used five laptops to read the bill at an incomprehensible 650 words a minute, completing the task in a single day.

You can check out the incomprehensible consequences on YouTube. Continue reading “Calling for Bills to be read aloud is one stalling tactic – and in NZ we should brace for Maggie’s amendments”

Oh goody – our GDP growth rate is solid (but are we envied by countries which enjoy a better standard of living?)

Here  is a  puzzle:   why  are   ordinary   New  Zealanders   not as excited  about the  state  of  their country’s  economy  as  Finance  Minister  Grant Robertson whenever he   talks  about it  in Parliament?.

Surveys have  shown    both  business   and consumer  confidence  sliding  in recent  months.

This  week  Robertson has been citing  reports  from   international  institutions to  contend  everything is  going  swimmingly   for the  NZ  economy despite some  risks, the greatest of  which is a sharp  economic   contraction in China.

But,  hey,  not to  worry, because  “I have huge confidence in the businesses and the workers of NZ that are supported by a government that’s investing in skills, in research and development, in infrastructure”.

Continue reading “Oh goody – our GDP growth rate is solid (but are we envied by countries which enjoy a better standard of living?)”

Bishop is given a chance to make an impact in National’s reshuffle

Look deeper than the  headline   moves in  National’s  reshuffle  to  find  the  longer-term  significance.  Those moves included Paul  Goldsmith winning the   prize  of  being   Opposition   Finance   spokesman  and  Gerry Brownlee in taking  on  Foreign  Affairs, not  just  because  he has the capacity  to deploy a  bit of  humour  in  needling  Foreign  Affairs  Minister  Winston Peters,  but  because  he is  signalling  he  is   up  for  another  term.

Insiders   point to  the  leap   through the  ranks   of Hutt South MP Chris Bishop  from  the cross benches.  Still only  36,   but   in his  second term,  Bishop  has converted the   once  traditional  Labour  stronghold  of  Hutt  South   into a National  seat.

In Parliament  as  Opposition  spokesman  on  Police  he has  been effective  in  puncturing  the  government’s   promises on  building up  police numbers by  1800.      Generally  he  has  kept   Police  Minister  Stuart   Nash  on his toes  and kept police   issues  close to   top of the political  agenda—something  that   some of  his seniors have  been able to do in their  areas of  responsibility. Continue reading “Bishop is given a chance to make an impact in National’s reshuffle”

A mutual admiring of Churchill was bound to ensure the bonding of Britain’s Boris and our Winston

New Zealand  should have a  head start in revitalising  its  relationship  with a post-Brexit  Britain   if  Boris  Johnson  steps  into  10  Downing   Street.

NZ’s  Foreign  Minister  Winston  Peters  reckons  he’s  already  established  mateship  with  Johnson.  He  told  TVNZ’s  Q&A  programme  Johnson “likes NZ  and  likes NZ  politicians”.

Moreover   when he was  Foreign Secretary   Johnson re-engaged with the Pacific.

And, significantly,  Johnson and Peters  share a  mutual  admiration of the  qualities  of leadership  of  the  UK’s  greatest Prime  Minister   Winston  Churchill. Continue reading “A mutual admiring of Churchill was bound to ensure the bonding of Britain’s Boris and our Winston”