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?” →
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” →
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” →
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” →
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?)” →
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” →
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” →
Is Westland Milk one of NZ’s “key strategic assets”?
NZ First is adamant it is and believes the government should be a applying a “national interest test” to the proposed sale of the company to the Chinese dairy giant Yili.
Those who see heavily indebted companies like Westland Milk struggling to make a profit and not even matching Fonterra’s payout to its suppliers might take a cooler view to the proposed sale.
Federated Farmers dairy chairman Chris Lewis said he had received “mixed” feedback from West Coast farmers on the deal, which will require 75% approval. Continue reading “NZ First is not alone in worrying at the implications of a Westland Milk sale to Yili” →
Boris Johnson, aspiring to be Britain’s next Prime Minister, has the gift of the gab until he is grilled about his private life. Then he maintains a stubborn silence, insisting this should be off limits to public scrutiny.
In Porirua, citizens are served by a Mayor who is apt to be circumspect about council dealings that are very much a matter of public interest – especially to ratepayers.
Or (to be fair) maybe he has said a great deal, but has not been fully reported.
A week or so ago Stuff disclosed that beachfront land in Titahi Bay – sold to Porirua City Council to ensure it could be used by the public – was the subject of designs which include detailed options for developing apartments.
These were shown to councillors in a closed-door session, Stuff reported. Continue reading “Porirua: a city where the council dabbles in property and cares for its staff while struggling to balance its books” →
Climate change warriors who are demanding NZ’s dairy herd be culled immediately to meet targets of lower methane emissions may be confounded by the evidence that leading farmers are already succeeding in lowering gas emissions. And the prospects of huge advances in other aspects of dairying, particularly in AI, robotics and the development of new crops, portend further gains..
And what’s holding up another key development?
It’s the intransigence of the so-called Green lobby against the introduction of genetic technology.
In a Ministry for the Environment briefing to Environment Minister David Parker in June 2018, officials warned NZ could fall behind the rest of the world in genetic engineering technologies. They said the rapid pace of technological change is forcing countries to clarify their positions, and recommended the government update the law. Continue reading “Culling our cows isn’t the only way to reduce emissions – but greenies shy from the GE option” →