The Point of Order Trough Monitor reminds us that the government has filled more than one trough with taxpayers’ money for oinkers. It was alerted when the Department of Internal Affairs invited “members of the public” to line up for a dip into a trough under its control.
At much the same time the monitor’s sensors were triggered by New Zealand First leaders announcing they were dishing out more millions in their home patch of Northland.
Point of Order readers will recall that at November 30 last year, Northland had secured funding of $353.3 million (22% of the $1.6 billion total distributed at that time from the Provincial Growth Fund) for 86 projects.
This put it far ahead of the second-placed East Coast ($238.6m for 45 projects, or 15% of the total) as major beneficiaries from the fund.
In the past few days another $126.4m has been poured into the region.
But first, let’s look at the Department of Internal Affairs announcement: Continue reading “PGF pumps more millions into Northland while Internal Affairs draws attention to another trough”
One of the more compelling moments in the Trump impeachment proceedings was Monday’s defence statement by former Solicitor General and federal Court of Appeals judge, Ken Starr. That is Ken Starr, the court-appointed special prosecutor who investigated former President Bill Clinton when he was in office, and whose report provided the basis for the unsuccessful attempt to impeach him.
Starr’s role in the current trial – for which he is perhaps uniquely qualified – was to provide a judicial historical perspective.
Nearing the end of what, in less partisan circumstances, would be termed a long and distinguished career, his presentation was more academic colloquium than rigorous interrogation of the facts. One might almost think that he sees his role as an officer of the court, rather than an advocate. Continue reading “Bill Clinton’s nemesis is now defending Donald Trump”
Several Ministers were given an opportunity yesterday to bray about infrastructure spending and try to persuade voters what a splendid job they were doing.
National brayed, too, that the government was implementing its investment programme while quibbling about a two-years pause.
Oh – and Chris Bishop took credit for having some of the government’s spending being directed to the Melling interchange.
The flood of press statements started with a grand announcement from the PM and two of her ministerial colleagues (here), followed by statements from Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones (here ), Finance Minister Grant Robertson (here), Deputy PM and State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters (here), Education Minister Chris Hipkins (here), Climate Change Minister James Shaw (here), Health Minister David Clark and Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter (here), and Transport Minister Phil Twyford (here).
A quick costing for households from the Taxpayers Union found
“Grant Robertson just spent nearly $7,000 per Kiwi household in a single announcement. Continue reading “Infrastructure grumbles: Govt is chided for ignoring climate change, neglecting the poor and being too slow”
The Point of Order Trough Monitor was further massaging Provincial Growth Fund data – and wondering what’s going on in Kapiti – when news arrived from the office of the very busy Fletcher Tabuteau.
Tabuteau, Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, was announcing combined funding of just over $1 million from the Te Ara Mahi allocation for two projects focussed on supporting youth into the construction industry.
Our wondering about Kapiti was not affected by this decision. The money on this occasion is going further north:
Continue reading “Waikato gets another $1m of goodies but Kapiti perhaps has been shunted out of the PGF lolly scramble”
As New Zealand’s politicians contemplate a September election, are there lessons for them from the successes of right of centre parties in Australia, the US and UK – and their failure in Canada?
Caution is needed in drawing conclusions, given a few well-placed ballots can be the margin between radiant success and crushing failure. Reference the election of Donald Trump with fewer votes than Hilary Clinton in 2016, and last year’s defeat of Andrew Scheer’s Canadian Conservatives despite winning more votes than Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party.
But one thing to reflect on is what right of centre parties stand for – and what the median voter thinks they stand for. Continue reading “How centre right parties win and lose elections these days”
Synlait Milk’s updated forecast milk price— now $7.25kg/MS, up from $7kg/MS —renews pressure on Fonterra to hit the upper limit of its own forecast.
For the industry as a whole, the higher milk payouts underline the strong global demand for NZ dairy products. And they provide some welcome sunshine into many of the county’s dairy sheds.
When Fonterra in December flagged it was aiming for the midpoint of its $7 to $7.60 forecast range, it said that a $7.30 milk price would be the fourth highest in its nearly two decades of operation.
That $7.30kg/MS is comfortably ahead of Dairy NZ’s estimate of break-even for Fonterra’s suppliers of $5.95.
But now Synlait is saying is it has raised its forecast payout on the back of higher than expected commodity prices at the end of 2019. It believes those will hold in the medium term as supply and demand continue to be evenly matched. Continue reading “Payout perplexity – more money for farmers would impede Fonterra’s financial recovery”
As Britain ticks closer to its formal departure from the European Union on 31 January, attention is focusing on negotiations for a trade and economic treaty.
Britain’s PM, Boris Johnson, has said a deal has to be done before transitional arrangements expire at the end of 2020. European leaders are equally insistent that the deadline is impractical – unless of course the UK falls into close alignment with the EU’s rules and policies.
But the indications are that Johnson is serious, both in relation to the deadline and also the need for the UK to follow a divergent policy path. Continue reading “Withdrawal agreement – done; Brexit – happening; now for the EU – UK trade deal …”
Readers who haven’t encountered the concept should brace to hear more about the use of Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV).
An SPV is a legal entity created for a specific purpose, such as raising capital – the SPV then can be a funding structure, through which all investors (or investors under a given investment threshold) are pooled together into a single entity.
The NZ Productivity Commission last year said SPVs could help debt-burdened councils to supply the infrastructure needed to support housing development.
The idea is supported by the Auckland Business Chamber.
Just before Christmas, the government introduced legislation to give effect to it. The Infrastructure Funding and Financing Bill establishes a framework for the establishment of SPVs to fund infrastructure such as roads and sewers in “high-growth” councils.
Eric Crampton, chief economist at the New Zealand Initiative, described it as a linchpin of Phil Twyford’s vision for better-functioning housing markets. Continue reading “SPVs are hailed as a way of funding infrastructure for housing – but will they be open to public scrutiny?”
The Jones boy is back in the business of making good-news announcements about the Provincial Growth Fund, rather than being asked to explain his role in one of hundreds of applications made by business people keen to slurp a few million from the $3 billion trough.
Today our Regional Development Minister is braying about log trains being about to run between Wairoa and Napier following PPF investment to reopen the rail line.
The Government invested $6.2 million to reopen the mothballed rail line which was closed after significant storm damage in 2012.
“With PGF support the rail line has been rebuilt and KiwiRail has established a road-rail log yard in Wairoa. On Sunday the first loaded log train will leave Wairoa for the Port of Napier,” Shane Jones said today.
“Export log volumes in the Hawke’s Bay region are predicted to reach 3.3 million tonnes per annum in the next few years and remain at high levels until the mid-2030s. The harvest growth around Wairoa is part of that picture. Continue reading “Faster broadband comes to Rātana – and now they are better connected to the world than many people in the capital”
Prince Charles has called for a new economic model in order to save the planet. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he pleaded with world leaders and businesses to revolutionise the interaction between nature and global financial markets,saving the planet from “approaching catastrophe”.
In an unprecedented royal intrusion on government policy, he argues market-based solutions and tax reform are the best options to halt the damaging impacts of climate change.Outlining 10 ways to transform financial markets and reduce global emissions, Prince Charles said nothing short of a revolution was required.
“I’ve come to realise it is not a lack of capital holding us back but rather the way in which we deploy it. Therefore, to move forward we need nothing short of a paradigm shift – one that inspires action at revolutionary levels and pace.”
He called for companies and countries to outline how they will move to net zero emissions – a signal he is not satisfied with the commitments made under the Paris climate accord. The United Kingdom has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050 but Australia and other countries have been reluctant to make similar promises. Continue reading “Climate change challenge for the Nats is to take scientists’ advice on GE and gazump the Greens”