The PGF pours more millions into the regions (and corporate welfare) – and Seymour is unlikely to stop the flow

Praising NZ First for pulling its support for next year’s tobacco tax hike, Act leader David Seymour suggests Winston Peters’ party should consider opposing a range of other Labour policies.

He also suggests Peters should veto “Shane Jones’ corporate welfare machine”.

“Governments have seldom spent money better than the people who earned it, especially when giving it to businesses. Add in a series of questionable conflicts of interests with Jones’ Provincial Growth Fund, and Peters would be smart to lance the boil before it engulfs him.”

Good luck with that.

The Point of Order Trough Monitor struggles to keep up with the outflow from the PGF, which was mentioned today in a statement from Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage to mark the official opening of the Paparoa Track in Blackball.

The 55km Great Walk is a dual mountain-biking and walking track. Work began under the former government.

It has been enabled by a $12 million government investment to build 41 km of new track to join up 14 km of existing track, two new 20 bunk huts (Moonlight Tops and Pororari) and four major suspension bridges.

The Paparoa Track has been built in conjunction with the Pike29 Memorial Track, which will be opened once the Pike River Recovery Agency has completed efforts to re-enter the Pike River Mine. The site then will be handed back to DOC and work will start to build a memorial to tell the story of mine safety in New Zealand and honour the miners who lost their lives in the 2010 Pike River Mine Disaster.

Sage’s press statement mentions two troughs:

“As well as work done by DOC, the Provincial Growth Fund has funded the Greymouth District Council $3.5m to undertake work to widen the Blackball Road, which leads to the track entrance west of Blackball. The road is being widened from single lane to enable the increase in traffic expected as a result of the new Great Walk.

“The Council has also received more than $600k from the Tourism Infrastructure Fund to develop new public toilets and a public carpark, alongside work to widen roads and improve drainage which the council have funded in the township.

Continue reading “The PGF pours more millions into the regions (and corporate welfare) – and Seymour is unlikely to stop the flow”

Going on the front foot – the lessons Black Caps could learn from businessman who chairs Cricket NZ

Greg  Barclay is a popular figure on  NZ  cricket grounds. As  chairman  of NZ Cricket,  he  has   seen   the  Black  Caps  march  up  to  Number  2  in world rankings.

On his watch the team  came  achingly close to   winning  the  World  Cup and in the last  week  the  Black Caps  trounced  the touring  English  team  at the  Bay   Oval.

Whether  they  can  win  the test  series   is  now the issue  as  the  second test  begins in Hamilton.

Barclay  is  a  man of   many talents,  as  one   might  expect.  In  between   the  cricket tests,  he has  presided  over  the  kind of    breathtaking  performance   by a  company on the NZX   which  Black Caps  captain  Kane Williamson  would be happy to   replicate  on the field. Continue reading “Going on the front foot – the lessons Black Caps could learn from businessman who chairs Cricket NZ”

King Air 350s might play a role in civil maritime security

Will the RNZAF’s new turbo prop Hawker Pacific King Air 350s fill part of the role identified in the 2019 Defence Capability Plan for civil maritime security?

The King Airs already train the air force’s new navigator and air warfare officers at Ohakea.  Now one has been identified at the Hawker Pacific base in Australia with what resembles a maritime surveillance radome on the lower fuselage.

The 2019 plan says the maritime security strategy will provide

“ … air surveillance capabilities that enhance all-of-Government maritime domain awareness in NZ and the Southern Ocean. The capabilities delivered through this investment will be dedicated to civil surveillance requirements, with Defence support for their delivery and operation.”

The intention is to free up the new Boeing P-8A Poseidons to fly more missions in the South Pacific and further afield. Investment in a range of capabilities will be considered, including satellite surveillance, unmanned aerial vehicles and traditional fixed-wing surveillance aircraft. Continue reading “King Air 350s might play a role in civil maritime security”

Humming Herb Farm business gets $216,000 of nurturing from taxpayers through the PGF

The Herb Farm, a family owned and operated business in the Manawatu, was established in 1993 and – according to its website –  “has grown into a humming business that works in harmony with the environment”.

A Stuff report quotes founder Lynn Kirkland’s daughter Sarah Cowan, who is now the  managing director, with her mother as research and development manager.

The industry might be highly competitive, but Cowan said the company was thriving.

This reiterated mention of the company’s robust corporate health earlier in the report:

A business built on a remedy for a bronchial chest is about to celebrate its 25th year.

When herbalist and founder of the Herb Farm in Ashhurst Lynn Kirkland was looking for natural remedies to keep her family healthy, little did she imagine that a quarter of a century later, the company would be expanding its New Zealand markets, exporting to countries in Asia and eyeing opportunities in Australia and Europe.

Nor (we are sure at Point of Order) would she have imagined being able to borrow money from taxpayers, rather than the bank, to expand her blooming business.

But as we learned this week from Shane Jones, NZ’s Minister of Munificence, the Provincial Growth Fund is giving The Herb Farm a $261,000 helping hand. Continue reading “Humming Herb Farm business gets $216,000 of nurturing from taxpayers through the PGF”

London’s burning but I live by the river

Few rank the Museum of London among the great treasure houses of Britain’s metropolis.  Isolated on the edge of the City by roads, concrete and a bewildering 1960s brutalist design, it attracts fewer visitors than it deserves.

Today is different.  The museum is buzzing, with a different demographic to the usual school and foreign tourist visitors.  Mostly middle aged, generally well-heeled, all paying homage to London Calling: Forty Years of The Clash. Continue reading “London’s burning but I live by the river”

Funding fuss must be weighed against Peters’ ministerial performance – and on the world stage he has been acclaimed

Can Winston Peters,  as   he has  done  so  often  before,  confound his  critics?   He  has  been  under intense  pressure  over  revelations  in  Matt Shand’s  Stuff   reports   on  donations channelled   through  the  NZ First  Foundation  Trust.

But Peters insists  the Electoral Commission, after investigating questions about loans made to the NZ First Party by the foundation will find that  everything is  in order.

And  even  if the  commission   were to  find   there has been a  breach,  could  it   derail   NZ  First?   Or its   leader?

After all,  Peters  has been  here   before—and  survived.

Here  at  Point of  Order  we   do  not pretend to  be   experts  on  the  ethics   of  political  donations to  NZ  First  any more   than of those   to  other  political  parties.    Or,  for  that matter, charging   $1500  to  those   who  want to  attend  a  dinner in the  presence  of  the   PM?

What  counts  for  the majority   of  voters    when they cast  their ballots  is what, if  anything,  politicians   have accomplished.  Or  what they promise.

Dispassionate  observers looking  at  how  Peters  has  performed   both  as  deputy  PM  and   Minister of  Foreign Affairs  would  mark   him well. Continue reading “Funding fuss must be weighed against Peters’ ministerial performance – and on the world stage he has been acclaimed”

Toxicologist is called in to help sort out contradictory findings on 1080 and wildlife deaths

We smell a rat when one laboratory report says testing has  detected 1080 in dead rodents collected on the West Coast, contradicting the findings of another laboratory report which found no evidence of the controversial poison.

The identity of the laboratory which produced the first-mentioned report is being kept confidential “for the security and safety of the independent chemists involved … ”

The secret lab’s findings challenge the Department of Conservation insistence that 1080 was not found in any of the wildlife tested by Landcare Research and Massey University veterinarians.

Who should we believe?

The Science Media Centre asked for help in tackling that question by asking for  comment from Dr Belinda Cridge, in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at University of Otago.  Her observations can be read HERE. Continue reading “Toxicologist is called in to help sort out contradictory findings on 1080 and wildlife deaths”

Ten years on from ‘Climategate’ things look a bit different

Civil unrest can stop many things but not another UN climate change conference.  But as climate wonks prepare for Madrid, there are unwelcome rumblings from China.

Because autocracies are not that responsive to public opinion, they can sometimes act faster and more transparently than squabbling democrats. Continue reading “Ten years on from ‘Climategate’ things look a bit different”

Australians hope NZ will buy Hunter class frigates but size and price will come into Defence considerations

Oops.  We messed up when we posted an item under the heading Navy firms its thinking about frigate replacements.

We posted the same item in March under the heading Navy planners consider replacements for ageing Anzac Class frigates.

Other media are apt to blame “gremlins” when this sort of thing happens.  At Point of Order we try to eschew superstition and the supernatural and, in this case, we happen to know carelessness was the culprit.  

Here’s what we should have posted ….  

THE NEXT major defence project on the books after the C-130J Hercules and the Boeing P-8A Poseidons are replacements for the RNZN’s two Anzac Class frigates Te Mana and Te Kaha. While these are due to remain in service until late in the next decade, planning is under way.

Across the Tasman, the Australians expect the RNZN will select the new Hunter class frigates being built by ASC in South Australia to replace the RAN’s Anzacs.  These are essentially the British BAe Type 26 ships being constructed for the Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy.

However, within the Ministry of Defence and RNZAN, minds are far from settled.  The Hunters are bigger vessels intended to operate at the high end of Allied fleets based around aircraft carrier task forces.  Our Anzacs have had to work hard to keep up with US forces when operating in the Gulf.

So, planners are watching carefully a new programme under way to build a new frigate for the US Navy, designated FFG X and intended to replace the Navy’s Oliver Perry class vessel.  They will be smaller, around 4000 tons and equipped with the latest systems and weapons.

Another candidate could be the US Coastguards’ new Legend class high endurance cutters.  These are essentially frigates but carry the traditional Coastguard “Cutter” designation as they have a law enforcement role alongside a naval function.

The USCG is building 11 ships, 418ft long, displacing 4500 tons with a maximum speed of 28 knots, a range of 12,000 miles and a crew of about 148. They are powered by diesel-electric and gas.

According to the Coastguard it will have automated weapon systems capable of “stopping rogue vessels far from shore” with state-of-the-art command and control systems to provide inter-operability with the Navy, a flight deck and a full suite of sensors and defence systems.

USCG cutters have been exercising with the RNZN and RAN in the Pacific and the Coastguard Command expects deployments to this region will increase. In a sense the RNZN’s role is similar to that of the US Coastguard.

The two forces know each other well especially with the USCG icebreakers working from NZ into the Antarctic.

Both the US Navy and the US Coastguard recognise the need for more and cheaper warships to patrol areas (such as the Pacific) which have a lower-level of threat.

Even the Royal Navy has recognised the need for more smaller warships and has chosen the Babcock-Thales Group, the type T31 general purpose frigate with five ships with an average production cost of £250 million per ship. This is based on the Danish Iver Huitfeldt-class frigates with four diesel engines rated providing a maximum speed of at least 29 knots and range of 9,300 nautical miles at 18 knots.

Stats NZ says race is a biological indicator – but we can choose our ethnicity

While Point of Order was posting news of self-identification being extrended to race in British academic circles, portending a bizarre world in which black can be white and white can be black, Stats NZ was distinguishing between race and ethnicity.

Statistics about ethnicity give information by the ethnic groups that people identify with or feel they belong to, the department explained.

Ethnicity is a measure of cultural affiliation. It is not a measure of race, ancestry, nationality, or citizenship. Ethnicity is self perceived and people can belong to more than one ethnic group.

An ethnic group is made up of people who have some or all of the following characteristics:

    • a common proper name
    • one or more elements of common culture, for example religion, customs, or language
    • unique community of interests, feelings, and actions
    • a shared sense of common origins or ancestry, and
    • a common geographic origin.

Ethnicity should not be confused with other related terms, Stats NZ insists:
Continue reading “Stats NZ says race is a biological indicator – but we can choose our ethnicity”