Boris Johnson: the man who saved Europe?

This year has seen some spectacular political victories: Jacinda Ardern in NZ’s election and now Boris’s post-Brexit trade treaty with the EU. But having secured a triumph, the risk is in resting on the laurels, when one should be looking to exploit to the full.

And Boris’s victory does look comprehensive. His critics alternated between saying he would never get a deal or it would be a very bad one. In fact, he has achieved his main objectives of rolling over the existing tariff-and-quota-free trade terms and securing recognition of the UK’s sovereign equality in managing the ongoing relationship.

Continue reading “Boris Johnson: the man who saved Europe?”

Some Christmas cheer from the Brits – their trade deal with the EU is as good as we could have expected

As readers well know, we at Point of Order never rest. So, we break your post-Christmas reverie to report some very good news for New Zealand from Britain’s exit from the European Union. 

The Christmas Eve deal ensures there will be no tariffs and no quotas on British-EU trade.

Neither side will impose tariffs on goods being traded and a zero quota agreement  means there will be no limits on the quantity of any type of goods that could be traded.  Furthermore, the UK will be able to strike free trade deals with other countries including NZ.

In essence, with both sides agreeing there will be no tariffs and quotas, NZ avoids the worst-possible alternative which would seriously impact NZ exports into the EU and Britain. Exporters trading across the UK and the EU may still face issues.  It’s as good as NZ negotiators hoped for. Continue reading “Some Christmas cheer from the Brits – their trade deal with the EU is as good as we could have expected”

Peace and goodwill? Not in the Maori Council’s Christmas message to the Police

The dearth of Beehive news suggests the ministers we  employ to serve us have packed up and headed for home for their Christmas holidays. 

The only statement posted on the beehive website this morning was another ministerial safety message, this time urging Kiwis to take care in the water.   

Political lobby groups around the country seems to have packed up too.

Our visit to the Scoop “politics” page found just three statements posted since Tuesday.

One of these was a Maori Council expression of no confidence in the Police and Independent Police Conduct Authority, an ominous hint that we should brace for demands that these public services  – like the state child welfare agency – be controlled by Maori . 

The headline was Call For Independent Inquiry Into Racial Profiling By Police – Maori Council Furious At Police And The IPCA

In the accompanying statement, council  executive director Matthew Tukaki commented on the illegal taking of photos of Maori youth in the Wairarapa by the Police. Continue reading “Peace and goodwill? Not in the Maori Council’s Christmas message to the Police”

Steering our youth towards employment and away from the criminal justice system

The welfare of young people was the focus of two of the three statements to emerge from the Beehive since we last checked on what our ministerial servants are doing with our money.

The other was an invitation to come and slurp at an energy-policy trough into which a few million bucks of our taxes has been tossed.

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced more than $4.3 million from the Government’s He Poutama Rangatahi fund will support 478 young people “to overcome barriers to employment, education and training”.

The funding will enable seven community programmes in Waikato, Hawke’s Bay, Tairāwhiti, Manawatū-Whanganui and Kāpiti to provide “pastoral care” and “pre-employment training” over two years.

Two of the programme providers, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga Trust and Aotearoa Social Enterprise Trust, are receiving further investment as part of this announcement. This round of funding will enable them to build on their learning and progress to date, Sepuloni said. Continue reading “Steering our youth towards employment and away from the criminal justice system”

The prospect of Peters being dubbed Sir Winston is raised – but maybe he would rather plan another comeback

So  who  will   head  up  the New  Year’s honours list?  Speculation  in the  Wellington  Beltway has  centred  on whether  it will  feature Winston Peters.

On  one  side  there  are those  who contend his long career in politics  culminating in his term as deputy Prime Minister  should be recognised with a  knighthood.  Others  ridicule  the  idea.  There  is,  too,  all   that  mysterious finanacial business involving  the NZ First Foundation, which somehow bypassed the attention of the NZ First leader.

Besides, there  is a  school which contends politics  runs  so strongly  in his blood  he  can’t  resist  thinking  of a  comeback. Continue reading “The prospect of Peters being dubbed Sir Winston is raised – but maybe he would rather plan another comeback”

Trump support is reduced to a ragtag group of conspiracy theorists and political misfits

As the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th president of the United States draws inexorably closer, the current occupant of the White House appears to be losing his grip on political reality.

Long-standing, hard-line Republicans in the Senate including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Lindsay Graham, the South Carolina firebrand, accept the findings of the Electoral College that Biden won by 306 to 232 votes.

Confined to the White House other than escaping for golf at one of his resorts. Trump has surrounded himself with true believers who remain glued to his contention that the presidential election was marked by fraud and that really, he had a “massive win”.

The process of government has been shunted aside. There’s barely a mention of the Covid-19 pandemic which has now claimed more than 320,000 deaths – far more than World War II combat deaths.

More than one commentator has invoked images of the last days in the Fuhrer’s bunker in Berlin in  May 1945. Continue reading “Trump support is reduced to a ragtag group of conspiracy theorists and political misfits”

Nash becomes a publicist for the pedalling caper – taxpayers are tapped to help pave the pathways

On yer bikes, readers – and you don’t have to pedal.  You could do it with a company called On Yer Bike Adventures, operating out of Greymouth, which is the sort of option we at Point of Order might consider because no pedal power (it seems) is required.  The company’s  services involve off road quad biking and buggies

Then there’s an outfit called On Yer Bike Winery Tours with the much greater appeal of linking its customers with wine producers and (again getting rid of the need to pedal) hiring out e-bikes.  

But the Government seems to be more inclined to direct your taxes to more physically demanding forms of cycling – and/or walking.     

Cycle trails and cycle and walking tourism are more popular than ever, with nearly two million trips on the country’s Great Rides in one year, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash brayed in a statement prompted by the release of new stats. 

“New analysis of data from the 22 trails which form the Great Rides shows an increase of nearly 700,000 trips in the year to February, compared to 2015,” said Nash.

Having done with the publication of new figures, Nash became an unabashed publicist. Continue reading “Nash becomes a publicist for the pedalling caper – taxpayers are tapped to help pave the pathways”

Mr Speaker wrongly cried “rape”, and then apologised – now let’s see if he becomes Sir Trevor

As  the political  year  comes   to an end, the  Labour  Party  has  much to celebrate, highlighted by  an electoral victory  that could lead to its longest term in power  under  its  most popular  leader  in history.  This was remarkable, in an era  when  governments  in  most Western  democracies    are  under  strain.

But  there  is   at  least one blot  on the Labour  escutcheon:  the Mallard  affair.

Despite  calls   for his  resignation, Trevor  Mallard has no intention of  stepping aside from  his  role as Speaker, the  third  highest  post  in  NZ’s constitutional  arrangements.

He  has offered  profuse  apologies for having defamed  a  person with  an accusation  of  attempted rape,    the  Prime  Minister  has accepted  he  made    a  “mistake”,  and  the  taxpayer   has picked  up  the  legal bill  of  $330,000 (and  counting) that is the price-tag on this “mistake”.

So  that’s  all  neat and  tidy,   it’s  history  now, and Parliament  can look forward to  another  year  of  his  judicial  guidance  in the  tradition  of   his  predecessors?

Well, not  quite.  Opposition  parties  have declared they have no  confidence  in him.

Hardened Labour  supporters  can  say  this is  just  the  Opposition  parties   playing  politics.  And  many  taxpayers  who  have to pay the legal price  of  the  Mallard “mistake”  may  yawn  at  what  they regard as nothing more than the  ugly side  of the political games played inside  the parliamentary  arena.

Yet  this  is  the  issue:  how  much judicial authority  can Mallard  exert in what  is  supposedly  the  highest  court in the  land?

Presiding  in Parliament  is  not  some  sort of game,  with the  referee  flourishing  a  red  card  now  and then.

Mallard  told a select committee  he almost immediately regretted describing the series of sexual assault complaints  in a review of parliamentary  culture  as  “rape”.  If this be so, why didn’t he offer  an apology earlier?   Is it because  a motion of  no confidence  may have been moved  long before the election?

Veteran  Press Gallery   journalist Barry Soper contends he withdrew  the rape claim just recently because, had he done so last year, chances  are he  would not have survived a no-confidence  vote  in his Speakership.  New Zealand First would not have supported him.

He may, of  course,  have been  bound  by legal advice.  But  meanwhile the  target  of  his  allegation  not  only  had had his employment  suspended  but  was suffering  from  mental stress.  And  if he had  not been tracked down  by a  journalist  and  aided  in finding  a  QC, he  could have   been  left the victim of  an unfounded calumny.

This means scant compassion  was shown  to  a  person  who (Point  of  Order  understands)  had  served  in the  parliamentary  precinct  for 20 years.

Those  who  support  Mallard  argue   he was motivated  by the  need  to  overhaul  the  once prevalent culture  in Parliament  of bullying  and other  unpleasant practices. And  who can be  critical  of  his championing  the  underdog, essentially  the tribal instinct of any  Labour  MP?

With  the  support  of the  Prime  Minister,  accordingly, it  seems  he  can  occupy  the Speaker’s chair  for  as  long as he  wishes.

But Point  of  Order  portends one delicate issue remaining  for the Prime Minister.  It’s the tradition of offering a knighthood to a Speaker  serving  a  second term.

The  dilemma  for Ardern  is that she will be accused of setting a new standard, if she offers Mallard a knighthood, and it will be the mark of disapproval  that  would rule out a  third term in the Speaker’s chair she if she doesn’t.

Tsunami of Nanny State summer safety warnings includes a welcome reminder to avoid a tsunami

Jacinda’s Nanny State wants us to have a happy Christmas and a safe one. 

Ministers devoted to improving our wellbeing have issued advice and warnings on how to avoid food poisoning, how to keep skin cancer at bay and – you can never be too careful, people – how to respond to a tsunami warning.

We are also being equipped to recognise the conditions that increase fire risk.

And there’s advice on the summer programme of resealing and repair work on state highways, to help steer motorists through the holiday driving season.

Transport Minister Michael Wood brought infrastructure investment  and job creation into considerations on that one:  more than 2,000 people will be working on highways across the country this summer, resealing and repairing around 1,900 lane kilometres of state highway (the equivalent of a two-lane road from Picton to Bluff or a single lane on SH1 from Bluff to Kaitaia).

The wellbeing of businesses has not been forgotten.  The Government is working with New Zealand businesses, industry representatives and other stakeholders to ensure they are prepared for all Brexit eventualities from 1 January. Continue reading “Tsunami of Nanny State summer safety warnings includes a welcome reminder to avoid a tsunami”

Tauranga councillors fail to persuade Mahuta she should allow them to stay in their elected posts

The citizens of Tauranga have been given another heads-up about losing their democracy – Nanaia Mahuta, who enthuses about upholding democracy as Minister of Foreign Affairs, has affirmed she intends appointing a commission to replace the dysfunctional Tauranga City Council.

Less controversially she announced New Zealand is providing an initial package of support to Fiji as it assesses the damage from Tropical Cyclone Yasa.

She didn’t mention the cost, but big bucks were involved in another Beehive announcement.  Fresh funding of $1.12 billion – which implies borrowing a sum of that magnitude – will support the COVID-19 health response and quarantine facilities for a further 18 months.

Among other announcements: Continue reading “Tauranga councillors fail to persuade Mahuta she should allow them to stay in their elected posts”