The government has declared its intention to make hate speech a Crimes Act offence and to increase the penalties for inciting hatred or discrimination.
It has announced a public consultation on proposed changes to the Human Rights Act 1993
“… to strengthen protections against speech that incites hatred and discrimination; and seeking New Zealanders’ views about how they would make New Zealand more socially cohesive”.
Writer George Orwell would have relished the language applied by Beehive spin doctors to describing the objective. The government is launching a “social cohesion programme to address incitement of hatred and discrimination”.
We imagine this is not intended to discourage or eliminate discrimination of the sort that bestows favours or privileges when the government promotes an “us” and “them” society through the increasing development of Crown-Maori partnerships.
Treating Maori and non-Maori separately is reflected in a raft of policies, as evidenced (for example) in the latest announcement on the Infrastructure Acceleration Fund.
Final decisions had yet to be made on how the full Housing Acceleration Fund would be used, Housing Minister Megan Woods said this week, but $350 million has been ring-fenced for a Māori Infrastructure Fund.
So where is a fund that has been ring-fenced for other ethnicities?
The government and its supporters will insist this is “positive” discrimination which makes it an acceptable arrangement – a necessary one, even – under the Treaty of Waitangi, although it seems to be at odds with today’s announcement of a significant programme of work to create a safer, more inclusive society. Continue reading “Hate speech law proposals aim to create a safe and inclusive society – but discrimination is unlikely to be discouraged if it is positive” →
Grant Robertson, perennially exuberant as finance minister when it comes to telling the country how well the government is handling the economy, has been in top form on the subject in Parliament in recent days.
Whether the same buoyancy is being felt in every sector of the economy could be another story.
But here’s how Robertson was responding in the House this week.
On Tuesday he was saying the government’s efforts to secure the economic recovery have been reflected in the latest measure of the country’s economic health. Statistics New Zealand reported last week that GDP rose by 1.6% for the March 2021 quarter, exceeding the expectations of even the most optimistic commentators.
“New Zealanders confidence in the recovery saw a boost in retail spending, particularly on big ticket household items, hospitality, and holiday accommodation. Importantly, activity in the construction sector returned to near record levels, while business investment in plant and machinery jumped by over 15 percent. The higher COVID-19 alert levels during the quarter only had a limited impact on the economy thanks to the quick response which provided cash flow and confidence. Quarterly activity in March has now exceeded the December 2019 quarter pre-pandemic level.
“Nevertheless, the data does show the volatility that NZ has to deal with during the pandemic. This 1.6% increase followed a 1% decline in the December quarter and a record 14.1% increase in the September quarter”. Continue reading “Robertson relishes responding to patsy questions and enthusing about the economic outlook – but is he missing some grim realities?” →
Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta is another member of the Ardern government who believes in the power of the law to eliminate criminal or undesirable behaviour.
But she seems to be aware that laws have their limitations: a Bill she introduced to Parliament yesterday “aims” to prevent serious criminal offending at sea.
Megan Woods, as Minister of Energy and Resources, earlier this week was much more confident about a Bill “to stop taxpayers having to fund oil field decommissions”.
“The Government is preventing taxpayers picking up the bill for the decommissioning of oil fields …”
Preventing? Or discouraging?
While Mahuta cracks down on crime on the high seas, Police Minister Poto Williams has been cracking down on gangs and criminals on land.
She proudly posted news that the Police have seized $500 million in cash and assets from gangs and criminals over the past four years.
But many New Zealanders would have been paying attention to another triumph – the Black Caps’ victory over India in the final of the inaugural Cricket World Test Championship.
The PM and Sports Minister Grant Robertson both extended their congratulations. Continue reading “Mahuta cracks down on crime at sea while Williams counts the cash and assets ($500m) seized from criminals on land” →
Parliament, mostly a humdrum affair these days, nevertheless has moments which fascinate long-time aficinados. One such moment came at Question Time yesterday when ACT’s David Seymour was probing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over the “feebate” scheme which the government is introducing to accelerate the introduction of EVs.
The Prime Minister carries such an aura these days that it is not easy to penetrate the wall of omniscience which protects her from criticism.
But as Seymour pursued his line of questioning, she showed a hint of fallibility.
Seymour, with a smile, teased her:
“Is my line of questioning getting under the Prime Minister’s skin?”
Of course he had only to look at Ardern’s face to know that he had.
So Point of Order decided to reproduce from Hansard the exchanges of this unusual event.
It began when Seymour asked whether Ardern stood by her statement that “a large number of those buyers of those vehicles are not using them for the legitimate use?” Continue reading “Seymour nettles the PM with questions about EVs, “feebate”, the Auckland cycle bridge and the disposal of batteries” →
One Beehive announcement from Megan Woods steers the public to around $1 billion sloshing around in a $3.8 billion trough in her Housing bailiwick by announcing eligibility criteria. Partnership with Maori will be helpful for those who are keen to line up for a slice of the action.
Another announcement from Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources this time, shows the Government wants to ease the burden on taxpayers by
“… preventing taxpayers picking up the bill for the decommissioning of oil fields”.
Whether legislation can “prevent” taxpayers from picking up the bill seems to be a moot point.
But Woods wants to give it a go through a Bill introduced to Parliament today which imposes an explicit statutory obligation on petroleum permit and licence holders to carry out and fund the decommissioning of petroleum fields.
There was a double dose of health stuff on the Beehive website.
First, New Zealand’s Quarantine Free Travel from New South Wales to New Zealand is to be paused while the source of infection of new cases announced in Sydney is investigated.
Second, Health Minister Andrew Little delivered a speech in which he spoke of the government’s vision to create a smarter, fairer health system and its examination of every aspect of our system structure, services, workforce and infrastructure to find “how can we do better?” Climate change loomed large in the matters he discussed. Continue reading “Woods protects taxpayers from oil and gas decommissioning costs – but she invites applications to dip into a $3.8bn housing trough, too” →
One of the government’s myriad of troughs has been replenished, new scholarships are being provided (for those who meet a race eligibility test), and Phil Twyford has delivered another speech about arms control.
Invitations to slurp at the trough are being issued to community organisations that can deliver energy education to households in need. The money comes from the Support for Energy Education in Communities (SEEC) Programme.
$1.65 million is available in this second round.
In total, $7.91 million will be allocated through the SEEC Programme’s regular funding rounds until 2024.
The three new scholarships, for Maori students in vocational education and training (VET), are to be added to “the suite of prestigious Ngarimu scholarships”.
Over 300 scholarships have been awarded over the years to people such as VC medal recipient Willie Apiata, Māori academic Whatarangi Winiata, entrepreneur and Pīpī Mā founder Kristin Ross, and Māori language expert Pania Papa.
The Ngarimu VET Scholarships are worth $10,000 each. The closing date for the Ngarimu VET applications is September 1.
Twyford’s speech, to the AI Forum Executive, addressed the development of policy on autonomous weapons systems.
But here at Point of Order we suspect the issue that will generate the greatest debate –consternation in some circles – is the government’s announcement of new marine protection areas and significant restrictions on fishing.
Fishing folk are likely to be fuming at the effects of a raft of changes being put in place to protect the Hauraki Gulf. Continue reading “Fishing folk will be fuming after govt restricts activities in Hauraki Gulf – but greenies will be grumbling too” →
Peters is back, the headlines shouted.
Well, not quite. Winston Peters may have stepped into the political limelight again, after a spell in political darkness – but he and his party are a long way from Parliament. And even though he looks fit and well, can he – at the age of 76 – find the spark which will fire up the NZ First engine again?
His disciple, Shane Jones, is firmly convinced he can. Furthermore, Jones believes the party can forge a new crusade out of the “perfidy” of what the Climate Change Commission is doing to NZ.
Jones sees the commissioners as “ideological termites”, who hold sway over the government with “mad ideas” of the sort that could required us all as if we are all going to ride bikes
Jones cites the example of 10,000 bikers in Birkenhead exerting their power on the government to build a bridge for them over the Auckland harbour.
Continue reading “Climate could provide Peters and his party with a platform for warming voters and bouncing back at the next election” →
Today is the third birthday of Neve Gayford (or is she Neve Ardern?), an event that was portended on the NZ Herald website in a report which described her dad as a “genius” for rolling three cakes into one for the occasion.
And how (we wonder) would they describe Albert Einstein?
The birthday has not been mentioned on the Beehive website – so far as we can tell from our regular monitoring – but it has been recognised in a post on Cactus Kate’s blog, Asian Invasion.
The highlight of Neve’s life for Cactus Kate so far remains her trip to the UN.
She raised the IQ of the room ten-fold and made more sense that any of them.
And managed to be one of the few attendees to not spit the dummy.
The Beehive has recognised that National Volunteer Week opened today in a statement which announces nominations have opened for the 2021 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.
Another statement recognised that yesterday was World Refugee Day.
Celebrating World Refugee Day is the headline on this statement from Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi, although when we consider the plight of the world’s refugees it’s hard to see what there is to celebrate. Continue reading “It’s hard to see what’s to celebrate when 82.4m people have fled their homes – but Faafoi has found nuggets of cheering news” →
Trade Minister Damien O’Connor kicked off our day with the cheering news that New Zealand and the UK have committed to accelerating their free trade agreement negotiations with the aim of reaching an agreement in principle this August.
This compensated for the news that the first day’s play on the scheduled first day of the cricket test between the Black Caps and India had been abandoned.
“We’ve held constructive and productive discussions towards the conclusion of a high-quality and comprehensive FTA that will support sustainable and inclusive trade, and help drive New Zealand’s economic recovery from COVID,” Damien O’Connor said.
He will leave the UK on Monday morning for Brussels where he will meet with his trade counterpart to advance NZ’s FTA negotiations with the European Union.
His good news landed in our in tray on World Albatross Day but the news from the Beehive for the endangered Antipodean albatross was ominous.
Their numbers are declining at an alarming rate.
Albatrosses feed on fish near the surface, making them vulnerable to being caught on fishing lines or in nets.
Acting Conversation Minister Ayesha Verrall said the government has a plan aiming to reduce domestic bycatch to zero and is funding a wider roll-out of cameras on inshore fishing vessels. Continue reading “The omens look good for exporters wanting a better deal from FTA with the UK – but not so good for endangered albatross” →
New Zealand has imposed travel bans on 50 individuals associated with the Lukashenko regime in Belarus elections. Among those in the naughty books are the President and key members of his Administration, the Electoral Commission, the police and other security forces.
This will show ‘em we mean business, if they can’t or won’t clean up their act on the international human rights front.
On the sea front, up to 300 inshore commercial fishing vessels are to be fitted with on-board cameras by 2024 as part of the Government’s commitment to protect the natural marine environment. The cost: it is expected to be $68 million over the next four years.
The news many people had been anxiously awaiting – not the anti-vaxxers, of course – is a rough timetable for rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine.
Then came Justice Minister Kris Faafoi’s announcement of a review of New Zealand’s 66-year-old adoption laws. Continue reading “Belarus pays penalty for ignoring concerns about its electoral and human rights record – NZ bans its leaders from travelling here” →