Boris’s tough line on trade is NZ’s (and others’) opportunity

British PM Boris Johnson is not one to muck around.  Re-elected last week, he is hustling Parliament back into action to vote on his Brexit legislation before Christmas, to make sure the UK actually leaves the EU on 31 January 2020.

But the new and significant addition to the legislation is a requirement that the proposed transition period cannot be extended beyond 31 December 2020. Continue reading “Boris’s tough line on trade is NZ’s (and others’) opportunity”

Nats support govt’s establishment of a venture capital fund to fill financing gap for high-tech companies

Critics  have long  lambasted  successive  governments  for their failure to  reverse  NZ’s woefully poor long-term economic performance.

So  Point of  Order  found   something positive  to address this in  legislation – given a third  reading in Parliament last week – that will establish a $300m  Venture  Capital Fund.

It’s the  brainchild  of  Associate  Finance Minister   David Parker   who   in an earlier  life  in  Dunedin  had  something to  do with  the  establishment of  A2  Milk,  now  one of the  top  capitalised  firms on the  NZX.

Parker  reckons   the  fund  will play an important role in building a more productive, inclusive and sustainable economy.  As  he puts   it,  NZ needs fast-growing businesses operating in a healthy, well-capitalised venture capital market. Continue reading “Nats support govt’s establishment of a venture capital fund to fill financing gap for high-tech companies”

Primary Sector Council merges science with the metaphysical in vision to guide the food and fibre sector

The Primary Sector Council’s vision for the country’s vital food and fibre sector (you can check it out here) promotes the government’s programme for blending science with the Maori belief system.

In a press statement, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor welcomed the “vision to unite the primary sector”, although he did not mention advice to unite science with matauranga Maori.

But on the vision website we learned:

By bringing together Mātauranga Māori, community based knowledge and modern science, we will form a body of knowledge that can guide and elevate our practices everyday, empowering us to elevate ourselves above compliance.

The vision describes “an active approach” and brings the metaphysical concept of “mauri” into considerations –

Kaitiakitanga (guardianship) is an active practice. Good Kaitiakitanga will involve taking action where things are out of balance and other parts of the system are being affected by resource use. Te Mauri o te Taiao provides a framework for everyone to effectively assess the mauri of all the elements within Taiao. We will look to develop assessment and monitoring tools to assist with implementing Te Mauri o te Taiao successfully. Continue reading “Primary Sector Council merges science with the metaphysical in vision to guide the food and fibre sector”

Lucky Boris – now the long game begins

Napoleon demanded that his generals be lucky.  Conservative PM Boris Johnson, as he surveys a thumping victory in the British general election, would meet that criterion.

His luck bears a resemblance to that of Margaret Thatcher.  Like her, he has made a decisive break with orthodox establishment thinking. That presents both unique opportunity (assuming the break is in tune with a developing public mood) and acute vulnerability (assuming that the mood takes time to, well, develop). Continue reading “Lucky Boris – now the long game begins”

Ombudsman invokes the Treaty and declares his aim to be fair – particularly to one group of citizens

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.  This was the declaration of the pigs who control the government in George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm – a tart comment on the hypocrisy of governments that proclaim the absolute equality of their citizens but gives power and privileges to a small elite.

This country’s chief ombudsman – of all people – has tweaked this and declared that, for the purposes of his office, all citizens are equal but some are more equal than others.

Peter Boshier has established a panel of Maori advisers, which (he says)

“ .. conveys our role as a watchtower ensuring fairness for all, particularly Māori.”

The panel is called Pūhara Mana Tangata and is made up “of prominent experts and rangatahi leaders”.

Boshier says it has been

“ … formed by representatives of tangata whenua for tangata whenua.”

We think he is acknowledging this is a race-based panel to meet the needs of just one of the population’s several ethnic groups.

But creating a watchtower to ensure fairness for all, particularly Māori, will require a rewriting of information we found on the Ombudsman’s website which explains the office’s current purpose: 

The Ombudsman and their staff help New Zealanders in their dealings with government agencies. We handle complaints against government agencies, undertake investigations and inspections, and encourage good administration.

We focus on fairness for all. We are independent and impartial.

Not any more, apparently.

Boshier further focuses on race distinctions when he says:

“One of my highest priorities as Chief Ombudsman is to be more responsive to Māori.”

None of the country’s many other racial groups are embraced by this expression of his mission.

Boshier says he expects the Panel’s experience in Māori governance and iwi engagement will help steer his office’s engagement and communications

” … to focus on matters that have the most positive and enduring impact on Māori communities.”

“We know we have work to do to raise our profile so more Māori are aware of our work”

Why not aim to make ALL citizens aware of his office’s work?

Boshier is supported as Chief Ombudsman by a Deputy Ombudsman, two Assistant Ombudsmen, a General Counsel and more than 100 staff located in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

So what is the reason for reinforcing this support by appointing a panel of Maori advisers?

His press statement says:

“The Chief Ombudsman acknowledges the partnership between Māori and the Crown established by the Treaty of Waitangi, and recognises it to be a critical factor in carrying out his work as the independent watchdog for Parliament overseeing and reporting on the actions of New Zealand crown agencies.”

Oh dear.  He has invoked the troubling “partnership” which is not actually mentioned in the Treaty of Waitangi.

When Kelvin Davis’s ministerial domain was expanded by the establishment of the Office for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti, we emailed questions to him to establish if he supports the establishment of more co-governance arrangements around the country and – if so – in which areas of public administration and governance?

We also asked:

  1. Will the promotion of co-governance arrangements be among the objectives of the newly established Maori-Crown relationship agency?
  2. What does the Minister believe is meant by the Treaty “partnership” (it is not actually mentioned in the Treaty of Waitangi) and when was a Treaty “partnership” first officially invoked for governmental policy-making purposes?

We did not receive answers.

More recently, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage told Point of Order:

“The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are not explicitly stated in the articles of the Treaty itself.  

“They have evolved primarily though jurisprudence…”  

They also have significant governance and constitutional implications.

Sage further said:

Section 4 of the Conservation Act 1987 requires the Minister of Conservation and DOC to give effect to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi in the interpretation and administration of the Act (including all enactments listed in Schedule 1 of the Act). This is one of the strongest weightings of Treaty of Waitangi principles in legislation.

The principles of the Treaty of Waitangi are not explicitly stated in the articles of the Treaty itself.  They have evolved primarily though jurisprudence, most notably the Lands case (New Zealand Maori Council v Attorney-General [1987] 1 NZLR 641).

The Treaty principles most relevant to DOC’s work are as follows:

–       Partnership – mutual good faith and reasonableness

–       Informed decision-making

–       Active protection

–       Redress and reconciliation

Mark Burton, Minister of Justice in the Labour-led government in 2007, reflected on the history and development of the Crown-Maori “relationship”. 

He referenced Sir Robin Cooke, writing in 1994, who observed that 12 decisions from the Court of Appeal between 1987 and 1993 on matters relating to the Treaty of Waitangi

 ” … enabled a new line of jurisprudence to emerge in New Zealand – Treaty jurisprudence.” 

Burton also acknowledged “treaty principles” being hard to pin down:

” In the view of the Courts and the Waitangi Tribunal, Treaty principles are not set in stone. They are constantly evolving as the Treaty is applied to particular issues and new situations. Neither the Courts nor the Waitangi Tribunal have produced a definitive list of Treaty principles.

“As President Cooke has said:  ‘ The Treaty obligations are ongoing. They will evolve from generation to generation as conditions change’.”  

Further information on the Treaty principles and DOC can be found here. 

What about the Ombudsman’s job?

He has authority to investigate approximately 4,000 entities in the public sector in New Zealand.

According to the Ombudsman, the public sector includes:

  • government departments and ministries
  • ministers and the Police (in relation to decisions on requests for official information)
  • local authorities
  • crown entities
  • state-owned enterprises
  • district health boards
  • tertiary education institutions
  • school boards of trustees.

All government agencies must cooperate with the Ombudsman’s investigations.

But the co-governance partners which are spouting at local authority level around the country are not “government” agencies – are they?

Boshier could clarify this during his meetings with the panel and ascertain whether Maori co-governance partners are willing to be subjected to the Official Information Act and Ombudsman’s investigations – or whether they would rather be held accountable only to fellow Maori.

While scientists measure Whakaari tremors, spiritual leaders tell of the warning their ancestors are sending

Two newspaper reports illustrate the contrasting involvements of science and spiritual beliefs in the aftermath of the White Island eruption.

Meanwhile several iwi have placed rāhui over their customary coastal areas.

This effectively represents a customary prohibition on all maritime activities for the whole of the Eastern Bay of Plenty coast.

New Zealand Herald science writer Jamie Morton yesterday examined the role of scientists in a report headed White Island eruption: How do scientists forecast potential further eruptions?

He reported that GNS Science experts had given a 40 to 60 per cent chance of another eruption outside White Island’s vent area in the next 24 hours. Continue reading “While scientists measure Whakaari tremors, spiritual leaders tell of the warning their ancestors are sending”

Boris’s last hurrah before Britain votes on Thursday

Election rallies ain’t what they used to be.  Boris’s election eve shindig was an invitation-only event for party faithful. The location (at a smallish venue in the London Olympic park) was disclosed to attendees only on the day (presumably to head off the risk of protest). Continue reading “Boris’s last hurrah before Britain votes on Thursday”

Faafoi’s folly – his confession to saying dumb things should put focus on his portfolio and the future of fuel prices

Back  in  September,  when the  NZ  Herald  issued  its   supplement  “Mood of  the  Boardroom”,  Commerce  Minister  Kris Faafoi  featured as the  politician who most impressed  top  chief  executives  on ministerial  performance.

The newspaper  reported  it  was the first  time  in the history of the Mood of the Boardroom  survey  that a  minister  ranked towards the tail-end of Cabinet (at  17th) and who  had  been in the position only since   January, had substantially  outranked  his  colleagues.

Faafoi  headed not only the PM, Jacinda  Ardern,  and  deputy PM  Winston  Peters,  but other senior ministers  Grant Robertson, Andrew Little and  David Parker.

Really?

Last week  Faafoi  was  engaged in a  rather  different  exercise, receiving  what he  described  as  a  “stern talking to”  from the  Prime  Minister after  it  was disclosed   he had promised to “speed things up” in an immigration case for Opshop singer Jason Kerrison. Continue reading “Faafoi’s folly – his confession to saying dumb things should put focus on his portfolio and the future of fuel prices”

Post-tragedy rāhui raises questions (which media prefer not to ask) about what it means

Whether tourists should have been allowed to visit Whakaari-White Island in the past and whether tourists should be allowed to visit in future are among the questions inevitably raised in the aftermath of the tragic volcanic eruption this week.

Concerns have extended beyond the operations of White Island Tours, which is owned by Ngāti Awa Holdings, to all adventure tourism.

The effects of the prohibition imposed in the form of a rāhui – does this amount to a ban on tourism, what authority does it have and for how long will it remain in place? – seem to have have gone unquestioned.

The rāhui ceremony was performed by Whakatane District Council pou tikanga Pouroto Ngaropo.

According to a Newsroom report, Ngaropo said the rāhui covers the island and the waters around it.

The report did not mention a time frame.

It did suggest a rāhui is much more potent than a council sign that says:  “Danger – keep out” or “Trespassers will be prosecuted”. Continue reading “Post-tragedy rāhui raises questions (which media prefer not to ask) about what it means”