It’s been a quiet weekend in the Beehive. Taxpayers nevertheless have played – or will play – a role in the two latest announcements, both dealing with the adverse economic impacts of the weather.
Too much rain in one case. Not enough in the other.
Conservation Minister Kiri Allan announced the official reopening of the Milford Track, after flood repairs. From today, the entire 54km of track is open, from Glade Wharf to Sandfly Point.
$13.7million was announced in Budget 2020 for repairing vital conservation and visitor infrastructure destroyed in heavy flooding in the region last February.
Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor announced further funding for feed support services and new animal welfare coordinators to help farmers who continue to feel the effects of an extended drought.
The Government has invested $19 million this year in rural communities affected by drought.
O’Connor said more than $350,000 has been approved to extend feed planning and coordination services until June 30 next year. Continue reading “Taxpayers help tourist industry recover from damage done by a deluge and farmers deal with the effects of drought”
Health Minister Andrew Little has announced the Government’s approval of $154 million of funding to add a new tower block with 64 more beds to Christchurch Hospital’s $525m acute services building.
Stuff and RNZ were among the media to report this news.
We found no media reports (albeit our search was not exhaustive) of Defence Ministers from Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and United Kingdom reaffirming their nations’ continued commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA).
The statement from Defence Minister Peeni Henare said the ministers recognised the FPDA’s significant role and contribution in promoting cooperative responses to an increasingly complex contemporary security environment.
The Ministers welcomed the growth in scope and depth of the FPDA over the last 49 years,saying it has evolved to introduce elements of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter-terrorism and maritime security into FPDA exercises and discussions while retaining its core focus on conventional warfare. Continue reading “It’s no secret – but you mightn’t know NZ has signed on for continued commitment to Five Powers defence agreement”
Things are moving fast on Covid, perhaps faster than we realise. But as Europe painfully grinds its way through a second lockdown, it’s easy to miss this.
First of all, it’s more of a lockdown-lite this time. Policy is more nuanced and – although most people are too polite to say – has more or less converged on a Swedish approach.
Secondly, the second wave so far looks less deadly. Excess mortality is considerably below the levels of earlier in the year. And while the institutional response hardly rates as an exemplar, there are plenty of signs of successful adaptation, of government policy certainly and, perhaps more importantly, of individual and business behaviour.
Continue reading “Covid: an endgame taking shape?”
Having reminded Parliament that New Zealanders in October elected a majority Government for the first time under our Mixed Member Proportional electoral system, and that the Government enjoys the confidence of a clear majority of members in the House of Representatives, the Speech from the Throne set out the policy programme we can expect to be implemented.
The first objective is to keep New Zealanders safe from COVID and:
“The first layer of defence is our border. With COVID cases increasing around the world, in a growing number of countries, the risk of travelers arriving at the border with COVID increases. The Government will continue to strengthen border protections. Testing, infection control procedures, and professional and quality staffing will remain cornerstones of the response.”
But the speech also signalled the Government’s intention to
“ … create opportunities for businesses to access the skills they need. The Government will ensure that up to 10 percent of places in our managed isolation facilities are used by people granted exceptions to enter New Zealand to contribute to accelerating our recovery.”
Before the day was done, exemptions were announced to enable 2000 more workers under the “recognised seasonal employers” scheme (RSE) to enter New Zealand from January next year. Continue reading “The border is NZ’s first defence against Covid-19 – but the rules will be relaxed to ensure our crops are harvested”
The inexorable march to separatism – manifest in the political clamour to have Maori children removed from the protection of state welfare agencies – raises questions which most commentators have overlooked or prefer not to tackle.
Lindsay Mitchell is not so coy. She asks if the future of a child with a modicum of Maori blood should be decided solely by Maori members of a family and raises the matter of the rights and claims of non-Maori family members.
Rights were brought smack-bang into the issue when the Human Rights Commission threw its support behind calls by the Children’s Commissioner for urgent action to keep at-risk Māori children with their wider family.
In effect, these authorities are telling us the rights of Maori family members outweigh the rights of non-Maori family members.
The Children’s Commissioner this month published the second of two reports on a review of what needs to change to enable Māori aged 0-3 months to remain in the care of their families in situations where Oranga Tamariki-Ministry for Children is notified of care and protection concerns
The key recommendation in the report is for a total transformation of the statutory care and protection system. Continue reading “The case for putting stability and security above other factors when deciding a child’s best interests (and they are colour-blind)”
Republicans and Democrats across the US are beginning to slice and dice the November 3 election results which showed President Donald Trump and the GOP did much better than anyone – pollsters, analysts and the media – ever expected.
Staggering sums have been spent. The Centre for Responsive Politics calculates both parties spent $US14 billion in all.
This disproved the conventional wisdom that money buys votes. Think of Michael Bloomberg. The former New York mayor and one-time presidential candidate spent more than $US1 billion of his personal fortune estimated at $US55 billion for little.
The $US66.9 billion spent by the Democrats failed to win control of the Senate as expected while they lost ground in the House. In the current Congress, the Democrats hold 232 seats and the Republicans 197. In the next House which takes office on January 3, the Democrats will have only 222 seats and the Republicans 208.
Make up of the new Senate won’t be concluded until the January 5 run-off in Georgia, where the two GOP incumbents failed to make the cut on November 3. Both parties are pouring millions into the race, which the Republicans are expected to hold. This will give them 52 seats to 48. A loss would give the Democrats control because with the 50-50 balance, the Vice President (due to be Kamala Harris) will have a casting vote. Continue reading “Here’s why a trade agreement embracing NZ won’t be too high on Biden’s policy agenda”
Matt Ridley – former science editor of The Economist and prolific popular science writer – has tackled a slippery subject in his book ‘How Innovation Works’. He succeeds in painting a vibrant and at times counter intuitive picture of this process. One that policy makers and public alike can usefully ponder.
A major contribution is demystification. He trashes the model of a tortured genius locked in the lab. Innovation comes from lots of people, competing or in concert, working by trial and error, sharing or stealing knowledge. It occurs when the conditions are right, because it bubbles out of the accumulation and testing of knowledge (hence the prevalence of simultaneous invention from calculus to light bulbs). ‘Ideas having sex’ is his metaphor of choice. And this tends to happen where innovators can gather and experiment free of restrictions.
Continue reading “Innovation works very well indeed”
The Maori component of the PM’s ministerial team was busy yesterday, delivering speeches and/or making announcements of concern particularly to around 15% of the country’s population.
- Rino Tirikatane, Associate Minister of Trade and Export Growth, talked trade to a Wakatū Nelson regional hui. The event was organised by Te Taumata, “the government’s first port of call for trade discussions with Māori”. It boasts a network of more than 700+ whānau followers and works with Māori businesses to deliver better trade outcomes for Māori and a more prosperous future for our whānau and communities.
- Maori Development Minister named an independent advisory group appointed to strengthen the future of Māori broadcasting.
- Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis launched the Te Hurihanganui programme in Porirua to address racism in the education system and improve outcomes for Māori learners and their families.
Maori concerns loomed large in an announcement by Justice Minister Kris Faafoi, too. He has received a Law Commission report which recommends changes to the law governing the way DNA is used in criminal investigations.
The report, called The Use of DNA in Criminal Investigations – Te Whahamahi I te Ira Tangata I ngā Mātai Taihara, recommends new legislation to address how DNA in criminal investigations is collected, used and stored, “while also respecting tikanga Māori and te Tiriti o Waitangi”. Continue reading “Davis launches transformative programme to shake racism (and colonialism) out of our education system”
PM Jacinda Ardern’s cordial exchange with President-elect Joe Biden went far better than anyone dared hope. Both sides were pleased. As one US official said, they are certainly kindred spirits.
Biden wants to “reinvigorate” the US-NZ relationship which, considering the heights it reached under former Foreign Minister Winston Peters, means Wellington and Washington DC have finally put away any lingering resentments from the 1980s and the Anzus crisis.
Biden is keen to work with NZ on broad Pacific issues but, as he points out, the US will have to work with friends on the task. When everyone circumspectly refers to “issues”, they really mean China with its diplomatic, economic and military ambitions in the Pacific.
Biden and his new Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken (a foreign policy veteran), want to try and reset the US-China relationship.
This week Australian PM Scott Morrison urged Washington and Beijing to “show more latitude” to smaller nations. Partners and allies needed “a bit more room to move” as strategic competition intensifies in the region. Continue reading “Ardern and Biden keen to work together as US restores its relationships with world agencies”
The PM’s farmer and grower audience would have been heartened when she said the election success of Labour in rural New Zealand was a huge honour, but with it came huge responsibility and huge opportunities. They would have been braced, too, for her promotion – and defence – of the government’s environmental agenda.
The vote represented both an endorsement of the direction the government is heading and a requirement to work more closely with rural communities, Jacinda Ardern told the Primary Industries Summit.
I have made it very clear to our all our MPs, as well as those in provincial seats, that the primary sector is a key partner and stakeholder for this Government, and I want to see ideas permeate up from the grass roots as well as our engagement at a leadership level.
She then articulated three key objectives for the Government –
- continuing to keep New Zealanders safe from Covid,
- accelerating our economic recovery, and
- laying the foundations for the future.
And she insisted (hurrah!):
Primary industries are at the heart of each objective. Continue reading “The PM reminds summit of state funding on tap to help farmers meet the demands of govt’s environmental agenda”