PGF pumps more millions into Northland while Internal Affairs draws attention to another trough

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”

Bill Clinton’s nemesis is now defending Donald Trump

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”

Infrastructure grumbles: Govt is chided for ignoring climate change, neglecting the poor and being too slow

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”

Waikato gets another $1m of goodies but Kapiti perhaps has been shunted out of the PGF lolly scramble

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”

How centre right parties win and lose elections these days

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”

Payout perplexity – more money for farmers would impede Fonterra’s financial recovery

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”

Withdrawal agreement – done; Brexit – happening; now for the EU – UK trade deal …

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 …”