Peters found much to scorn (and the Nats should be finding fault with the govt too) but Ardern’s popularity is hard to puncture

The country’s politics  are  in  an  interesting   phase. Labour,  despite  a  litany of policy disasters, is  still  riding the  top  of its  wave, buoyed  by  the  incandescent  popularity  of  Jacinda  Ardern.

National  is  plumbing  the  depths, as  it  has  done  before  when  it  has  suffered  a  massive defeat.  ACT, in contrast,  believes  it  is  climbing  out of  the  shadows   to  win  broader, and more  permanent, support. And  Winston  Peters  has emerged, once  more,   from  the political  wilderness and  struck the  themes  which could propel  NZ  First   back  into  the  role  which it has  played  so  often  before.

Peters  scored  direct  hits  on  the  kind of “woke” politics and policies currently in the ascendancy under the Ardern government, delighting in  verbal sprays on the “woke elite” or “Ngati Woke”, cancel culture, the Auckland cycle bridge, the He Puapua report, ditching referendas on Māori wards, the decision to buy the land at Ihumātao, increased state usage of te reo Māori and especially “Aotearoa”. Continue reading “Peters found much to scorn (and the Nats should be finding fault with the govt too) but Ardern’s popularity is hard to puncture”

Mahuta flushes out data to show water reforms will save big bucks but critics say they make the Treaty more important than pipes

Yet again, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is proposing a programme of change which would erode the mechanisms whereby citizens hold decision-makers to account.

Today she has announced plans to establish four publicly owned entities to take responsibility of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure across New Zealand, claiming this will save ratepayers thousands of dollars and better ensure the $120 to $185 billion investment in services can be made.

Her release is part of a package of proposed reforms including the recent establishment of Taumata Arowai, the new water services regulator, and the planned introduction of economic regulation. It includes the proposed boundaries of the four water providers, further details on the proposed water services entities, including governance arrangements, the role of iwi, and how they would be regulated.

“The Government will continue to work with the sector, iwi and industry on some of the details to give these transformational reforms the best chance of success. We will be making further announcements in the coming weeks, including a three waters reform support package for councils and their communities,’’ Nanaia Mahuta said. Continue reading “Mahuta flushes out data to show water reforms will save big bucks but critics say they make the Treaty more important than pipes”

More co-governance – this time it is providing 30 jobs (instead of just 15) as the govt fortifies its role in the labour market

A co-governance system of administration is being introduced to the job-training and employment sector.

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni has announced a raft of co-chair appointments for the country’s 15 permanent Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLG).

Doubling up on chairs has the great merit of providing more jobs than when you have just one chair:  the groups will be headed by 30 co-chairs rather than 15 chairs.

One co-chair (the Crown’s representative in a Treaty-based arrangement, presumably) is nominated through an Expressions of Interest process, the other is selected in consultation with regional iwi and Māori.

Chairs will be appointed for up to three years.

This initiative seems to be fortifying the influence of central planning in the labour market.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website says Regional Skills Leadership Groups were formed a year ago to identify and support better ways of meeting future skills and workforce needs in our regions and cities.​

“They are part of a joined-up approach to labour market planning which will see our workforce, education and immigration systems working together to better meet the differing skills needs across the country.”

Sepuloni says appointing the co-chairs is the first step in establishing permanent RSLGs and developing Regional Workforce Plans.

These plans will explore the labour supply and demand trends for each region allowing us to better plan for, and address, future skills shortages, she says.

“The groups will focus on planning and addressing labour market issues in our regions, and once they are fully up and running will become a valuable resource for Government as we seek to accelerate our recovery from COVID-19.  

“The RSLGs will identify what change is needed from regional and national stakeholders in order to achieve a high-skill regional labour market.”

More information on RSLGs can be found here

Latest from the Beehive

Covid -19

Wellington to return to Level 1; QFT pause with Australia to lift for some states and ACT from Sunday

Cabinet agreed yesterday to shift the Wellington region to Alert Level 1 from 11:59pm last night.

The pause on Quarantine Free Travel from South Australia, ACT, Tasmania and Victoria will be lifted at 11.59pm (NZT) on Sunday 4 July.

A risk assessment has been completed for each state and territory. New South Wales is currently seen as the most risk, Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory are higher risk than the government is comfortable with, and South Australia, ACT, Tasmania and Victoria are consistent with New Zealand’s green flights category.

Travellers must have a test no more than 72 hours before their scheduled departure time, which means they have to have a sample taken and result returned within the three day time period.

Passengers should also:

  • understand the current public health measures that are in place,
  • wear face coverings on the aircraft and at the airport,
  • make a health declaration,
  • know they are subject to random temperature checks.
  • know the importance of downloading the COVID tracer app, and
  • self-isolate and be tested immediately if they have any symptoms of illness.

Further details of pre-departure requirements can be found on the COVID-19 website.

Child welfare

The Inter-yeti – taking the internet by storm to teach kids online safety

Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti announced an initiative to help children learn about online safety.

Gunther the Inter-yeti and his trusty friend Byte feature in an interactive ebook to help children understand what to do when they come across bullying trolls, scary content, and ‘friends’ who may not be who they say they are.

$2.1 million was granted from the Covid-19 Recovery Fund to develop this phase of the Keep It Real Online, with the help of young Kiwis aged 5-12 years old. The story is narrated by Stan Walker.

Labour market

Co-chairs appointed to Regional Skills Leadership

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni has announced the co-chair appointments for the permanent Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLG).

Appointing the co-chairs is the first step in establishing permanent RSLGs and developing Regional Workforce Plans.

The process for standing up interim RSLGs was fast-tracked as a result of COVID-19 to support the recovery of labour markets.

Govt releases draft bill for replacing the Resource Management Act – and for giving The Treaty a stronger role

The Government has invited ethnically eligible organisations (Polynesian in this case) to apply for funding from one of its many troughs (a health fund modestly supplied with a $450,000 swill).

It has also welcomed “a world first natural disaster insurance model” which comes into effect tomorrow.  This is a collaboration embracing eight private insurers, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and the Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ), providing New Zealanders with a single point of contact for natural disaster insurance claims.

But the Beehive release most likely to generate heated discussion is the exposure draft of a law intended to replace the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).

The draft outlining key aspects of the Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA) will be presented to Parliament, then be referred to a select committee inquiry. Continue reading “Govt releases draft bill for replacing the Resource Management Act – and for giving The Treaty a stronger role”

Parker pours $50m into a new trough to reduce waste while announcing plans for further plastics prohibitions

Having announced its plans to further restrict what we may say, the government turned to further restricting the materials used for packaging or for making goods we may buy.

And as part of the plastics announcement, Environment Minister David Parker launched a $50 million trough, enticingly named the Plastics Innovation Fund, to help support projects that reimagine how we make, use and dispose of plastics.

Funding will be available for innovative projects from designing out waste in products and packaging, or adopting and scaling up existing technologies, through to switching materials and developing recycling solutions not currently available.

Another measure with implications for civil liberties and for the wellbeing of the people affected was the extension of Alert Level 2 in the Wellington region.

At time of writing the ACT Party was preoccupied with expostulating against the speech constraints on the Ardern government’s legislative agenda, and had yet to give its views on the proposed plastics prohibitions, but the Nats and the Greens did respond critically.

The Greens, typically were disgruntled that the government hadn’t gone far enough.  But when were they ever satisfied?    Continue reading “Parker pours $50m into a new trough to reduce waste while announcing plans for further plastics prohibitions”

Dunedin’s modern-day gold rush – and business resurgence – has been triggered by a swathe of high-tech developments

For  New  Zealanders    whose  lives  have  been dominated   for  18  months  by  Covid-19, Dunedin’s  renaissance   may  not have registered  on  their  radar.  Yet  quietly  the southern  city has  sprouted  some  of  NZ’s  fastest-growing  hi-tech  businesses.

Once  a  city   that was home to some of  the  country’s biggest  companies, Dunedin had  several decades during which many of  its  brightest and   best  migrated  north and   its  life appeared to  revolve,  as  the  rest  of  NZ  saw  it,  about its  university (and the  Highlanders).

Whereas once it had been the  country’s financial capital, home to the  head  offices of  many  of  the  NZ’s leading  companies,  it  ceded  that title  first to  Wellington  and then  to  Auckland.

But  almost mysteriously,  it  has  found  a  new  life and suddenly   the  rest  of  NZ   has woken  to the  new  era  which  is  enveloping the  city.  It   is  somewhat like  the  gold  rush  which  promoted  it  to  be   at  the  front  edge of  NZ’s first  wave   of  prosperity  more  than 150  years ago.

Just  last week  global  investment firm  Kohlberg Kravis Roberts  announced  it  is acquiring a majority stake in Dunedin-based tech company Education Perfect,  in   a  deal that  values  the   enterprise  at  $435m.

A  month  previously  cloud software firm Timely  was  sold  for  a  sum  reported  to have topped  $100m.  Timely  offers cloud software services for appointment management, often used by those in the beauty or fitness industries. Continue reading “Dunedin’s modern-day gold rush – and business resurgence – has been triggered by a swathe of high-tech developments”

The dismantling of free-market reforms – how Ardern is taking us back to the days when state monopolies limited our choices


The Ardern government is weakening many of the pillars of the free market reforms implemented in the 1980s and 1990s, including undermining the Reserve Bank and Fiscal Responsibility Acts.

 More alarming is its failure to learn that bestowing privileges on a few results in enormous costs for the many.

So says Nicholas Kerr, son of the late Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr.

A marketing consultant in Dallas, Texas, Nicholas Kerr delivered a  speech last month to the Dallas chapter of the Bastiat Society, an organisation established by the American Institute for Economic Research as a forum for business professionals to help advance peaceful trade and human flourishing.   

The speech (the full version can be read here) was headed Unleashing New Zealand’s Potential and Suppressing Washington State’s — Lessons for Texas.

Here’s an edited version: –  


While the New Zealand I grew up in during the 1970s and early 1980s was idyllic for most children, its citizens had long been experiencing declining relative living standards.  In the 30 years prior to 1982, New Zealand’s rank in the per capita gross domestic product league table fell from third to 32nd.

Government owned all manner of things, including but not limited to, one of the largest hotel chains in the country; a shipping company; both television channels (New Zealand only had two until 1989); many radio stations; most hospitals; major banks; a steel mill and a printing company; all the country’s airports, ports, universities and coalmines; half the country’s forests; and, the only telecommunications, electricity, airline, and rail companies. Continue reading “The dismantling of free-market reforms – how Ardern is taking us back to the days when state monopolies limited our choices”

A matter of the right connections – Robertson tells of his digital discussion with APEC politicians and business leaders

We do admire the language employed by our Ministers – and/or their spin doctors – for their pronouncements.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson, for example, tells us that finance ministers and business leaders from across the APEC region “have connected” to discuss the ongoing response to COVID-19.

It was a connection facilitated by the internet and digital technology.

The session was an innovation introduced for APEC 2021, making best use of the digital format to bring together people from across the region for an informal discussion.

“This encouraged an open conversation between participants who might not otherwise have had an opportunity to come together during the APEC year. It enabled attendees to gain a deeper understanding of the issues affecting the region and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead,” Grant Robertson said.

“The views of business leaders and the discussions at this meeting have been valuable and will feed into conversations between Ministers at the Finance Ministers’ Meeting in October.” Continue reading “A matter of the right connections – Robertson tells of his digital discussion with APEC politicians and business leaders”

The dangers of putting media on the government’s payroll

Accusations by Stuff journalist Andrea Vance that the Prime Minister leads an unusually secretive government don’t tell the whole story about its desire to control information, says Graham Adams.

He has taken a closer look at the guidelines for the new $55 million journalism fund in an article for the Democracy Project

He writes:

Despite widespread cynicism about the Government’s ability to fulfil its promises — whether it is KiwiBuild, light rail along Dominion Rd, or planting a billion trees —  journalist Andrea Vance still found enough fresh outrage last week to launch a blistering attack over a pledge Jacinda Ardern made in 2017 to lead “a more open and democratic society” that would “strengthen transparency around official information”.

In fact, Ardern’s lack of transparency was on show very early in her prime ministership. Shortly after the 2017 election, she refused to release notes from the coalition negotiations between Labour and NZ First — leading one journalist to opine:

“A month seems early for a new government to dash hopes of a fresh start yet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s team seems determined to break the speed record when it comes to disregard for public transparency.”

From Vance’s standpoint as a journalist, little seems to have improved since then.

The damning conclusion she arrived at after citing delays in responses to Official Information Act requests and ministers’ refusals to be interviewed was:

“At every level, the government manipulates the flow of information.”

It’s not difficult to find other instances of the Government denying access to important information in addition to those Vance mentioned — not least its record of obfuscation over significant details of its Covid-19 management and vaccination programme.

Examples of the kind Vance offered of the government hiding or distorting important information are the most obvious form of political censorship. There is, however, another form of political censorship which can be even more insidious — that is, attempting to impose narratives which suit the government’s purposes and thereby crowd out competing views. Continue reading “The dangers of putting media on the government’s payroll”

O’Connor (like the Black Caps) will deserve a victory parade if he can secure a trade deal with the UK that outscores Australia’s

The  government  has  been  beating  the drum on the  prospects  for  a  free  trade  deal with the United Kingdom, which it claims  is part  of the wider work  it is undertaking to support New Zealand’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

Following  Trade Minister Damien O’Connor’s sessions  with UK Trade Secretary Truss in London to push along the bilateral negotiation, officials’ teams will spend the coming weeks finalising FTA details with the aim of reaching agreement in principle in August.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta told Parliament NZ  is working to achieve a high quality comprehensive trade deal.

“Our priority is a deal that delivers benefits for all New Zealanders. That includes seeking elimination on all tariffs over commercially meaningful time frames, and that takes account of our ambition across the agricultural sector”. Continue reading “O’Connor (like the Black Caps) will deserve a victory parade if he can secure a trade deal with the UK that outscores Australia’s”