A Tale of Two Ports

Port of Tauranga has cracked the $100M net profit mark for the first time, underlining how efficient it has become as NZ’s largest port. The NZX-listed Mount Maunganui-based company also reported this week its long-term credit rating had been elevated from ‘BBB+’ to ‘A-‘ by credit rating agency Standard & Poors. The short-term rating was affirmed at ‘A-2’.

PoT’s market capitalisation hit $4.3bn in the wake of its latest result, a huge leap from the $78m at the time of its IPO in 1992. The company has provided a river of gold for the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, which retains 56% of the shares.

So why have other local bodies, which own ports, been so slow to follow the example of the BOP Council in partially privatising their port businesses and reaping the rewards?

Continue reading “A Tale of Two Ports”

EU – the success story of our times – so far

This blog has from time to time brought out flaws in critiques of the UK leaving the EU. Don’t conclude from this that Brexit is risk free.  Far from it. It is a fundamental decision with profound consequences  – but not the ones getting most the headlines.

Start with the remarkable success story that is the EU.  We take it for granted. Yet in a world which has witnessed the disintegration of the USSR, Yugoslavia and various African and Middle Eastern sovereignties, welding two dozen European countries into an effective political union is perhaps the most significant political event of the last forty years, ranking alongside the rise of China or the decline of the Soviet Union.

Continue reading “EU – the success story of our times – so far”

Parliament is sovereign – but that means it has to exercise its sovereignty

As every first year constitutional law student knows, in the Westminster system, Parliament (or the Queen-in-Parliament) is sovereign.

There is no question where responsibility for the UK’s leaving the EU must lie – with Parliament.

So the British Parliament exerted its plenitude of sovereign powers when it installed a government pledged to Brexit following the 2017 general election. And when it passed laws setting a leaving date.  Also when it rejected the EU withdrawal treaty negotiated by former PM Theresa May.  And definitely when it granted supply to the May government and its succeeding Johnson government to keep on trucking.

So what is one to make of Boris Johnson asking the Queen to prorogue Parliament (that is end the Parliamentary session in mid-September and then start a new one after a delay of a month or so – ostensibly to pass his triumphantly-negotiated but highly-unlikely new EU withdrawal agreement). Continue reading “Parliament is sovereign – but that means it has to exercise its sovereignty”

The Ihumatao saga could have a far-reaching impact on NZ politics

Is the government digging itself into a hole as it awaits a solution to the problem of contested land at Ihumatao?

For two days in a row, PM Jacinda Ardern has backed away from questions over a   Crown loan being used to purchase the land where a housing development has been held up because of a long-running protest.

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Testing times for NZ’s dairy industry: Can its leaders find the right formula?

Dairy giant Fonterra has taken a hammering in the media in the wake of its disclosure it expects to report a full-year loss of as much as $675m and won’t pay a dividend as it slashes the value of global assets. It will be the second annual loss in a row.

Investment guru Brian Gaynor in the NZ Herald argued Fonterra’s farmers have drained the co-op almost dry in terms of milk prices and dividends and have left it in an extremely vulnerable position. Earlier another Herald columnist, Matthew Hooton, contended NZ has put all its milk in one pail – in a company with inadequate governance and capital to match its aspirations.

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PGF provides for peanut processor Picot’s expansion project

The government has been splashing money around from an array of troughs in the past week.

Shane Jones was not the only minister to announce the handouts and the handouts weren’t peanuts, although a thriving peanut processor will be among the beneficiaries.

The Point of Order Trough Monitor has disclosed these projects for government spending and investment – Continue reading “PGF provides for peanut processor Picot’s expansion project”

How to think about tech

What’s the most useful model of tech to keep in your head.  Most models are rationalisations of the status quo. But tech forces us to visualise something which exists everywhere but is developing constantly. Watching the foundation-of-Facebook movie ‘The Social Network‘ is a start but probably not enough.

For a structured but approachable model, listen to the podcast ‘Software has eaten the world’ by Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and tech venture capital pioneer.

He captures the pervasive quality of tech – and positions it as the fundamental driver of change in our environment and lives (at a pinch, you might also throw in the vastly increased mobility of peoples in recent years).  He demonstrates this through three claims about the world:

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