Auckland Light Rail comes off the tracks – and we can only imagine where Twyford might be shunted

Latest from the Beehive –

Winston Peters was chuffed by prospects for New Zealand horse sales, Stuart Nash and Eugenie Sage went out to bat for endangered dolphins, and Carmel Sepuloni and Damien O’Connor were campaigning to introduce Covid-19-affected workers to farm animals.  In the case of help for Covid-19-affected workers, we imagine the ministers were talking about workers who have lost their jobs because of the government’s extreme measures to combat the pandemic rather than workers who have been infected by Covid-19.

Meanwhile Phil Twyford was putting lame ducks into the headlines by announcing a Cabinet agreement to end the twin track Auckland Light Rail process and refer the project to the Ministry of Transport for further work.

Despite extensive cross-party consultation, the said when revealing his latest political setback, government parties were unable to reach agreement on a preferred proposal. The future of the project will now be decided by the government following September’s general election.

Twyford said two credible and deliverable proposals had been received. But neither was sufficiently credible or deliverable – we may suppose – to pass muster with the Cabinet (or New Zealand First components of the Cabinet). Continue reading “Auckland Light Rail comes off the tracks – and we can only imagine where Twyford might be shunted”

We will put money on Peters getting his racing bill to the winning post – but dissuading Israel from its annexation policy is much more demanding

Latest from the Beehive

Police Minister Stuart Nash had something to crow about – the Police had announced ten arrests and the seizure of eight prohibited firearms and six Molotov cocktail explosive devices in an action against a mob known as the Mongols.

Health Minister David Clark reminded us he still has a role to play in conquering Covid-19 by announcing the government is stepping up New Zealand’s Covid-19 testing system at the border as more New Zealanders arrive from overseas.

And Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters dismayed the Israeli government (well, it would be great to think he did) when he expressed the New Zealand government’s serious concern about its proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank.

We suspect it is more likely Clark will vanquish Covid-19 single-handedly with both hands tied behind his back – and maybe win a Nobel Prize for medicine – than Peters will dissuade the Israelis from an annexation programme which he said would gravely undermine the two-state solution, breach international law, and pose significant risks to regional security.

But we would put our money on Peters triumphing on another front, as Minister of Racing, with his plans to restructure the racing industry.  He treated us, in a despatch from the Beehive, to a copy of his second reading speech for the Racing Industry Bill which revokes the Racing Act 2003. Continue reading “We will put money on Peters getting his racing bill to the winning post – but dissuading Israel from its annexation policy is much more demanding”

Challenge for NZ defence planners is determining how to align with the new strategic environment

NZ defence planners have begun a new defence assessment, due next year, to help guide governments for the next decade. They face a radically changing strategic environment with uncomfortable choices looming for NZ.

China provides the major challenge. Already more assertive politically and economically, it has strengthened its defence forces with blue-water capabilities ranging from nuclear submarines to aircraft carriers and long-range precision missiles. Its intelligence agencies are some of the best in the region.

To counter this, a new group is emerging, known as the “Quad”, which links India, Australia, Japan and the United States in primarily air-sea surveillance of the region the Americans now call Indo-Pacific. Continue reading “Challenge for NZ defence planners is determining how to align with the new strategic environment”

Let’s hope health and safety measures ensure applicants aren’t trampled in their rush to slurp at a new trough

Latest from the Beehive

We were a tad puzzled on learning the government is supporting fair and safe workplaces as more and more New Zealanders get back to work in Level 1.

The implication in a Beehive press statement yesterday – unintended, we trust – is that the government is now giving this support but it had not been supporting fair and safe workplaces previously.

Less ambiguously, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway advised us that (a) more taxpayers’ money is being pumped into health and safety and (b) a new trough is being established for oinkers.

Come to think of it, there is a health and safety issue here – the danger of applicants being trampled in a rush to the troughs which ministers eagerly promote.

Lees-Galloway mentioned the establishment of a $3 million contestable fund for business organisations, unions and community providers

“ … to access funding for initiatives that support workers and workplaces to manage employment impacts and position themselves for recovery following Covid-19.” Continue reading “Let’s hope health and safety measures ensure applicants aren’t trampled in their rush to slurp at a new trough”

While Megan Woods plugs leaks in the quarantine system, we may wonder who is delivering the transformation promised in 2017

An epic  failure,  or  just   “missteps”  in  NZ’s  border  controls?   The painful discovery  of  a lack of rigorous testing  in the quarantine regime against Covid-19 has enabled media columnists to rail against one of  the  more spectacular  bureaucratic blunders  of  the  modern  era.      

In answer to our question, the columnists  have been  virtually  unanimous  it  was  the  former although the NZ  Herald, more kindly, in  its  editorial  judged  them to be   just  missteps.

Opposition  politicians, too,  were  not  slow  to  join the  contest:  ACT’s  David  Seymour led  the way, labelling   it  the   “Dad’s Army routine  at  the  border”.

Whether   it  has  taken  the  gloss  off   Jacinda  Ardern’s  political  leadership  is  another  question. Most  of  the  critics  distributed  the  blame  more  widely,   pointing the  finger    at  Health  Minister   David  Clark  or   the  Director-general  of  Health,  Dr Ashley  Bloomfield   (lauded previously as  “saintly”),   and even  to  those  supposedly   tasked, as  one   columnist said, with carrying  out the restrictions  within  the  quarantine  protocol. Continue reading “While Megan Woods plugs leaks in the quarantine system, we may wonder who is delivering the transformation promised in 2017”

Ministers pay tribute to refugees and volunteers (and Lees-Galloway will have more to say in a Beehive speech)

Refugees and volunteers were the subjects of the only two press statements to emerge from the Beehive since our previous report on ministerial announcements.

Saturday was World Refugee Day, giving Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway a pretext for reminding us of his existence, and Sunday was the start of National Volunteer Week, 21 June to 27 June 2020, giving Community and Volunteer Sector Minister Poto Williams a similar platform.

Both occasions left us wondering at Point of Order:  who dreams up these occasions?

Lees-Galloway clumsily said:

“The Government is proud to play our part in international humanitarian work to provide support and protection to refugees, and celebrate the contributions our refugee community makes on World Refugee Day today.”

So how does it regard the contributions our refugee community makes on other days? Continue reading “Ministers pay tribute to refugees and volunteers (and Lees-Galloway will have more to say in a Beehive speech)”

NZ’s border systems were “rigorous” (until two infected women exposed their flaws) – now they are being made “robust”

Latest from the Beehive

Housing Minister Megan Woods has vowed  “robust systems” will be put in place to ensure the managed isolation and quarantine of returning New Zealanders, RNZ reports. And there will be consequences for people who break those rules.

Robust systems will be put in place?  But none other than the PM had led us to believe we already had them.

Correction.  She led us to believe the systems were rigorous.

On April 19, discussing what was being considered by the government before a decision was made next day on whether to extend the level 4 lockdown, Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand’s quarantine and border measures were thought to be “absolutely” sufficient to move into level 3.

“They’re very, very rigorous. We have currently 1601 individuals who are in facilities managed by the government,” she said.

Woods now was appearing at a media briefing and promising a robust  system after the PM gave her Ministerial responsibility for Managed Isolation and Quarantine and appointed Air Commodore Darryn Webb as Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine.

The politically embarrassing reason for those appointments was the exposure of serious weaknesses which made the system somewhat less than rigorous.  Continue reading “NZ’s border systems were “rigorous” (until two infected women exposed their flaws) – now they are being made “robust””

Agriculture Minister is missing in (in)action while climate change warriors harry NZ’s dairy industry

The  world stands  on  the  brink of a  food crisis worse  than  any seen  in the last  50 years, the  UN has  warned  as  it  urged  governments to  act swiftly to avoid  disaster.

So what  is the  Ardern  government  doing about  it?   Shouldn’t   it  be working  to  ramp  up  food production?  After  all,  NZ   prides  itself  on being  among  the world’s  leaders  in producing  high-quality  food.

Instead,  Climate  Change  Minister  James  Shaw is celebrating  being  “ ambitious” in tackling  what he calls the climate crisis with,  he   says,

“ … necessary rule changes that will incentivise NZ’s biggest polluters to invest in the transition to a clean, climate-friendly economy”.

This  includes putting a price  on  farming  emissions.   Shaw  reckons it’s great that this puts NZ further ahead on climate action than many other parts of the world. Continue reading “Agriculture Minister is missing in (in)action while climate change warriors harry NZ’s dairy industry”

Why gun owners are aggrieved by new firearms legislation and have brought poor policing of the old law into their sights

Latest from the Beehive

The New Zealand Police Association has declared it is both pleased and relieved that Parliament voted to pass into law the Arms Legislation Bill.

Association President Chris Cahill said many of the reforms heralded in the bill fall into the ‘better late than never’ category with some at least 30 years overdue.

“The shock to finally act was the murder of 51 people at prayer in two Christchurch mosques 15 months ago. What our politicians have passed today is law that focuses on the future safety of all of us. It also includes a powerful stated purpose – that in New Zealand it is a privilege, not a right, to possess and use a firearm, and with privilege comes responsibilities,” Mr Cahill says.

We suppose he issued this statement with a straight face.  But just just a few days earlier we were told the March 15 terrorist – according to Stuff sources – had been wrongly granted a firearms licence due to a string of police failures. Continue reading “Why gun owners are aggrieved by new firearms legislation and have brought poor policing of the old law into their sights”

How a crash (of sorts) might come

History looks for a trigger for the economy crashing:  the 1929 stock market panic, the 1970s oil shock or the 2008 subprime meltdown.  But while the headline events can be a catalyst, sober analysis usually gives a more complex backstory of growing economic imbalances and disastrous-with-hindsight policy settings.

So casting the Covid shock as the proximate cause, what might be underlying drivers of a sustained deterioration in the economic climate? Continue reading “How a crash (of sorts) might come”