The Waikato and Waipa Rivers have been declared off limits during Level 3 of the Covid-19 emergency, prohibiting food gathering and all recreational activities on the waterways..
Elsewhere around the country people have been barred from going to some beaches by vigilante groups who set up checkpoints to impede the public.
In the case of the two rivers, the prohibition has been imposed by a former truck driver who now rejoices in the title of Māori King Tuheitia.
He has declared the rivers are subject to a rahui, a cultural and spiritual prohibition. It came into effect on Monday.
The king’s authority to make a rahui binding on anyone who feels they should not be constrained by it is dubious.
Point of Order hoped Local Government New Zealand would guide us on King Tuheitia’s entitlement to bar people from swimming or fishing in the rivers or boating on them. Continue reading “Maori monarch flexes muscle to make waterways off-limits but we may muse on the matter of legality”
Italy has been particularly badly hit by Covid. And recent reports suggest that there is a great deal of anger at the failure of the EU to provide more aid.
Nor is Italy well placed to deal with the economic fallout. As Financial Times commentator Wolfgang Munchau points out, its high levels of public debt could well be headed to Greek-style levels.
“As of the end of last year, Italy’s public sector debt was 136 per cent of gross domestic product. Over the previous decade, it had increased by 30 percentage points. If you assume that what the IMF calls the Great Lockdown leaves Italian GDP 10 per cent lower than in 2019, and if outstanding debt increases by 20 per cent, then its debt-to-GDP ratio balloons to 180 per cent.” Continue reading “Italy’s woes are another blow to the European project (as currently constituted)”
Provincial Growth Fund troughers will be delighted to learn they are back in business (or some of them are).
They may not be so chuffed to learn that troughing has become commonplace and many more Kiwis are dipping into public funds through an array of programmes set up to revive an economy ravaged by Covid-19 and the government’s response to it.
The bigger the number of troughers, the smaller the serving for each of them, although this consideration perhaps is overcome by the printing of money, quantitative easing, and what-have-you.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones brought news of the resumption this week of Provincial Growth Fund projects around the country that were halted during Alert Level 4.
At Alert Level 3, more than 60 projects representing $439.8 million worth of investment are expected to get going again.
While we were digesting this news, Jones – in tandem with Kris Faafoi, Minister of Communications and Digital Media – threw out another announcement. Continue reading “PGF projects – and $439.8 million worth of investment – are up and going again under Alert Level Three”
As folk step out to enjoy their new-found freedom (and not just in NZ), it’s worth bearing in mind that we are still mired in uncertainty. Indeed, the sense that the data is not good enough and governments are feeling their way as they go along, is perhaps even stronger now than it was a few weeks ago.
So a few high-level principles might help in thinking about the future. Continue reading “Covid: still plenty of known unknowns”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a point of thanking the Director-general of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, for his service over the Covid-19 lockdown. She described working with the health official “as a real honour”.
“I consider NZ to be very lucky to have a public servant of Dr Bloomfield’s calibre leading the health response. His background in public health has meant I consider NZ to be among those countries who are a lucky to have the expertise in leading the response: one that considers the health and wellbeing of NZers in every respect.“
It’s a tribute most folk think well deserved, coming as it did on the last day of level four of the lockdown. And Bloomfield has earned international acclaim. Continue reading “The D-G should be chuffed after being praised by Ardern – now let’s see how hard the Minister is cuffed …”
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We trust a handsome contribution has been made by the fast-food franchise featuring on Stuff’s menu of news reports today – and, remarkably, on the websites of many other news services including Radio New Zealand.
The PR department at the company in question will be thrilled to see the franchise’s name pop up in association with the breaking of the Covid-19 fast whereas rival companies – including an American chain best known for its fried chicken – don’t get much of a look-in.
It would be great if we could post this report without naming the company which has been given this inglorious glut of headlines around the country.
Just refer to them as a burger joint, perhaps.
But we gave up on the attempt. Continue reading “Well I’ll be burgered – queues for just one brand of fast foods (would you believe?) show that Level Four is over”
Barely a week ago, we reported on suggestions in a minor UK periodical that the British government was not planning to extend the year-end deadline in the current EU trade talks.
It looks like they might have a subscription to The Spectator in Brussels, judging by statements from Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator (reported here in the Financial Times). Continue reading “Brexit: The Empire strikes back”
There’s mounting enthusiasm in both Anzac countries to create a Trans-Tasman bubble linking both for air travel and tourism.
Those familiar with history say the two countries should go a step further and re-invent the famous open market which was killed by the then Australian Transport Minister, Laurie Brereton, back on October 23, 1994?
Reincarnated, this might serve both countries well at this critical point for their economies.
In the early 1990s, both Canberra and Wellington envisaged a single market where the airlines of each country could fly freely to and within the other. The idea had its genesis with the late Sir Peter Abeles when he chaired TNT, the former Australian multi-model transport giant.
Sir Peter was joint chairman, with Rupert Murdoch, owner of the vast News media empire, of Ansett Australia. He took advantage of NZ deregulation to launch Ansett NZ in 1987 but soon realised the only way it would ever become commercially viable would be to link Ansett operations in both countries.
This ran foul of the current air services agreements between each country. Continue reading “An open aviation market is worth revisiting while we consider the merits of an Anzac bubble”
Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who only four months ago would have been quietly rejoicing at the prospect of presenting an election-winning budget, now has the challenge of framing a programme to salvage the economy. It will be a formidable task, even if at the time of presentation the country is in sight of freeing itself from the blight of Covid-19.
He says he has a strong personal belief in the power of the state to do good. And certainly the Ardern coalition has deployed the power of the state effectively in the campaign against the Covid-19 pandemic.
If Robertson can do the same with the economy, he will win a place in history. But with economists predicting unemployment will soar above 10% of the workforce, and consequently inequality set to deepen, many New Zealanders could be disadvantaged for life.
Already Robertson is getting plenty of advice on what his priorities should be. Labour’s coalition supporter, the Green Party, is calling is calling for an “ economic stimulus package fit for the 21st century that puts people, climate, and nature first with significant investment in nature based jobs”. Continue reading “Now let’s see how Robertson harnesses the powers of the state to revive the economy”
We wonder if Stuart Nash is too busy trying to catch up with his small business duties to find time to reply to Point of Order’s questions about highly contentious goings-on in his police portfolio.
Nash was criticised earlier this week for providing the Epidemic Response Committee with scant information about the effect on businesses of an additional week of lockdown and another two weeks at alert level 3.
In his Police patch, meanwhile, the legality of checkpoints set up by Maori communities has become a matter of confusion.
Point of Order has tried to establish if there is any statutory authority to legitimise these checkpoints.
Our questions to the PM and to the Police were not directly answered while our questions to Nash received only an automated response. Continue reading “A checkpoint charlie would be someone who doesn’t question the legality – but the PM seems comfortable they pass muster”