POAL – Aucklanders (not the government) should decide its future

Barrie Saunders writes…

One of the 1984-90 Lange-Douglas government’s most successful reforms is now at serious risk, because of a self-serving political campaign by NZ First, aided and abetted by others driving their own agendas.

In 1988 the Port Companies Act came into operation, which commercialised New Zealand’s ports and required them to operate as a “successful business”.   At the same time the failed New Zealand Ports Authority was disbanded and harbour regulatory functions were left with local government.

The reforms worked extraordinarily well as the port companies became very efficient and cost-effective.  Some including the ports of Auckland, Tauranga, Timaru, Napier, Lyttelton and Bluff, ended up at various stages with private shareholdings, but the local authorities typically held the majority of shares, and some partially privatised were later bought back.  Undoubtedly the private shareholding improved the performance of port companies. Continue reading “POAL – Aucklanders (not the government) should decide its future”

PGF goodies are dished up in Wairoa today – in the region which ranks tops for funding per project

An above-average helping  was dished up today, when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, announced the latest distributions from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Tabuteau had moved further up the East Coast after yesterday delivering $2.8 million to the Ngā Ara Tipuna –  Waipukurau Pā Site Interpretation project “to create an authentic cultural tourism experience”.

Today he announced…

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing up to $6.1 million to revitalise business and tourism opportunities in Wairoa, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today.

The PGF is funding:

  • Up to $4.8 million for the Wairoa Integrated Business and Tourism Facility
  • Up to $960,000 for the Wairoa Digital Employment Programme (funded through Te Ara Mahi, the PGF’s skills and training allocation)
  • $400,000 for the Wairoa Regional Digital Hub.

Continue reading “PGF goodies are dished up in Wairoa today – in the region which ranks tops for funding per project”

Yep, you guessed right if you figured Northland is getting more than a fair share from the PGF

About the same time as Fletcher Tabuteau was announcing the latest handouts from the Provincial Growth Fund, the Point of Order Trough Monitor was massaging all available data on where the money from the fund has been going.

The figures take us up to November 30 2019 and affirm what most readers would have suspected – the region to benefit most, by far, is Northland.

The fund had dished out almost $1.6 billion to 427 projects.

Northland had secured funding of $353.3 million (22% of the total) for 86 projects.

Next best was the East Coast, securing funding of $238.6m. (15% of the total) for 45 projects.

But  Gisborne is listed separately and is credited with winning further funds of $5.030m for one project.

Then there are two separate categories – Pan-Region and National – without obvious regional distinctions.

The Pan-Region has been given funding of $344.2m (like Northland, this accounts for 22% of the total) for 19 projects.
Continue reading “Yep, you guessed right if you figured Northland is getting more than a fair share from the PGF”

Questions are raised by RNZ report about a forestry company, the PGF and a meeting with Shane Jones

So when did Shane Jones first learn about NZ Future Forest Products’ bid for a $15 million government loan from the Provincial Growth Fund.?

According to a Radio NZ report today, when NZFFP applied for PGF on 8 April, 2019, the company was asked whether the project had been “previously discussed” with the government.

The application form shows NZFFP ticked the ‘yes’ box and said it had made a “presentation to the Minister” about its forestry and wood processing plans “including descriptions of the applicant”.

Jones, a New Zealand First MP who is forestry minister and the minister responsible for the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund, has consistently claimed he first heard about the NZFFP bid on 14 October last year.

The forestry company is described as having close links to New Zealand First.

NZFFP’s directors include

  • Brian Henry, lawyer to New Zealand First Party leader Winston Peters, judicial officer of the party and one of two trustees of the New Zealand First Foundation, and
  • NZ First leader Winston Peters’ partner Jan Trotman, who joined the company in August 2019.

Continue reading “Questions are raised by RNZ report about a forestry company, the PGF and a meeting with Shane Jones”

Another New Year handout from the PGF nudges us to wonder: where’s the Jones boy?

So where’s Shane Jones, we wondered after the Point of Order Trough Monitor sounded its second alert of the week.

Again, the alert was triggered by the sound of taxpayers’ money being given away by the Parliamentary Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau.

The Provincial Growth Fund – he brayed – is investing $10.88 million to boost business and tourism opportunities in Kaikōura.

As part of the Kaikōura Marina Development Programme, two projects will receive PGF funding:

  • A $9.88 million investment to begin the design and build of the Wakatu Quay
  • $1 million to look into the potential of South Bay Harbour and surrounding areas

Both projects will be managed by the Kaikōura District Council.

Inevitably, job opportunities were highlighted in the press statement.

“This is a great time to support tourism and business opportunities in the Kaikōura region as they turn around economic and environmental struggles following the devastating earthquake in 2016,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

“Tourism is one of Kaikōura’s largest employers and main industries. The Kaikōura Marina Development Programme begins the process of increasing the tourism destinations available in Kaikōura.

“The development programme is projected to create up to 50 new jobs and up to 100 indirect new jobs in the wider Kaikōura region.

PGF funding of $9.88 million has been allocated for the design and build of Wakatu Quay Development – a new destination intended to revitalise the wharves “and celebrate the linkages of Kaikōura to its marine environment”.

You could say that about any development in any seaside town – couldn’t you?

The space will include dining, retail and local cultural elements.

“The purpose of the Wakatu Quay redevelopment will mean visitors can take in the beauty of the surrounding scenes including the Seaward Kaikōura Range,” Fletcher Tabuteau said

But wait.  There’s more.

PGF funding of a further $1 million is earmarked “to look into the potential of South Bay Harbour and surrounding areas”.

It sounds as if this sum will be spent on finding if a good reason can be found for calling Tabuteau or Jones back to Kaikoura to announce PGF funding in yet another project.

“The PGF boost will also provide the foundation for the future development of South Bay Harbour which is currently the launching site for the marine eco-tourism operators, commercial fishing sectors and recreational users.

“These PGF projects align with the Canterbury Regional Economic Development Strategy’s regional visitor aims, with a strong focus on sustainable growth in tourism,” Fletcher Tabuteau said.

The press statement reminds us that funding from the Provincial Growth Fund is approved in principle and announced, after which contracts are negotiated.

Some funding may depend on the completion of business cases. Payments are made once agreed milestones are met. These are set as part of contract negotiations, and differ from project to project.

Continue reading “Another New Year handout from the PGF nudges us to wonder: where’s the Jones boy?”

Make-or-break year for Bridges – he must prove he is PM material without shouting down Ardern

Already  it is shaping  as  the  most challenging year  for  National  since it   lost   the Treasury benches  in  2017.  For  Simon Bridges,  it’s  make-or-break   for  his leadership.

Going  head-to-head  with the  Jacinda  phenomenon,  he has  little chance of  monstering  her   in  television  broadcasts,  and even if he did it could backfire  on  National.

Bridges’  task is  more  complex.    He has  to prove himself  as   the  Prime  Minister-in-waiting,  clearly   the underdog  in a contest   where he  cannot be  seen to be   shouting down  his  opponent.

Yet he  must win enough  support  to  overwhelm  Labour  and  its  coalition allies  combined – a   feat   which  far more popular  National leaders  (John Key or Bill English)   could not  achieve.

He  will  need  more than a  cunning plan,  or  the  social  media  wizardry of the  Topham Guerin  team  (who were  credited   with a  key role  first  in Scott Morrison’s  surprise  election success and  then  with  Boris  Johnson’s triumph  in the UK.

So  how   could  National  frame  an  election-winning  strategy? Continue reading “Make-or-break year for Bridges – he must prove he is PM material without shouting down Ardern”

You can shop around for an affordable gluten-free sandwich – but being sure of what’s in it is not so easy

One way to express dismay at the price being asked for the goods and services we want is to shop elsewhere.  Another is to cough up, then grumble about being ripped off on social media.

Taking the second course of action may well attract the mainstream media and soon an aggrieved customer’s grouch has been turned into a newspaper headline.

An example can be found today at Stuff:  Coeliac sufferer says cafe $4 gluten free surcharge is profiteering.

The report beneath the headline says cafes are charging more to cover rising costs, including wages – but a woman charged $4 extra for gluten free bread says this is  profiteering.

A woman with coeliac disease who was charged $4 for gluten free bread at an Auckland cafe says the business is profiting off people’s illnesses and allergies.

Wellington woman Emma Ward said on Twitter on Sunday: “I am at a cafe in Auckland and the GF bread is $4 extra. $4! I understand it’s an extra cost but it is also super ableist.”

The 27-year-old said gluten-free bread was quite pricey, but the surcharge was usually $2.

“It’s frustrating when you can tell the bread is just a slice of Vogels from the supermarket,” she said.

The Stuff report. alas, then demonstrates a feeble grasp of economic concepts such as “free enterprise” and “competition”:  Continue reading “You can shop around for an affordable gluten-free sandwich – but being sure of what’s in it is not so easy”

Former NZ diplomat lands key post with major public relations company in US

High-flying former New Zealand diplomat Kirsty Graham has been appointed CEO Global Public Affairs for major US public relations company, Edelmans.  She takes up her duties at the end of February.

Dunedin-born Graham’s last MFAT post was deputy head of mission at the NZ Mission to the United Nations in New York. She also served in Washington DC and on the staff of former foreign minister Sir Don McKinnon.

From New York she was recruited by the US drug manufacturer Pfizer as senior vice president, corporate affairs for its Biopharmaceuticals Group and senior vice president Global Policy and International Affairs. She has also been vice president and Corporate Affairs lead for the company’s Essential Health group.

During her 10 years at Pfizer, Graham also held the title of vice president, Policy, External Affairs and Communications for the Primary Care Business unit as well as senior director, International Public Affairs for Asia-Pacific and Canada.

Graham will become a member of Edelmans’ Operating Committee, whose businesses operate in more than 125 countries and have a portfolio of more than 600 products generating about three-quarters of the company’s revenues.

PGF pumps millions into Wairarapa water projects – but who will own the water?

The providers of public handouts are back in action and the Point of Order Trough Monitor has sounded its first alert for 2020.

Wairarapa water projects are the beneficiaries of a $7.11m boost from the Provincial Growth Fund, announced this morning by Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau.

This is a significantly greater lump of money than the PGF investment of $800,000 which Tabuteau announced in May last year for Wairarapa Water Limited to investigate the development and construction of community water storage.

The money was to help the company to review and update a 2015 pre-feasibility study which investigated six potential water schemes in the region and to align the study to recent climate change projections and current Government policies regarding small-scale water storage schemes for communities.

Today Tabuteau said two projects will receive funding:

  • A $7 million investment in Wairarapa Water Limited for the pre-construction development of water storage (and associated distribution) infrastructure at the Wakamoekau site in the Wairarapa.
  • $110,000 to the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency Ltd led by the Wairarapa Water Resilience Committee to develop and produce a Wairarapa Water Resilience Strategy.

Tabuteau has become fluent in speaking the language of Beehive largess: Continue reading “PGF pumps millions into Wairarapa water projects – but who will own the water?”

If dollops of trivial news are the best measure, we may never know when the silly season is over

The so-called “silly season” isn’t a Kiwi phenomenon.

According to Wikipedia, in the United Kingdom and in some other places

” … the silly season is the period lasting for a few summer months typified by the emergence of frivolous news stories in the media.

“It is known in many languages as the cucumber time.

“The term is first attested in 1861, was listed in the second (1894) edition of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, and remains in use at the start of the 21st century. The fifteenth edition of Brewer’s expands on the second, defining the silly season as “the part of the year when Parliament and the Law Courts are not sitting (about August and September)”.

“In North America the period is often referred to prosaically as the slow news season, or less commonly with the phrase dog days of summer.

“In Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, the silly season has come to refer to the Christmas/New Year festive period (which occurs during the summer season in the Southern Hemisphere) on account of the higher than usual number of social engagements where the consumption of alcohol is typical.” Continue reading “If dollops of trivial news are the best measure, we may never know when the silly season is over”