Govt has a senior moment – Verrall announces a pathway (but not too much money) to improve the lot of our older citizens

Amidst a spate of Covid-related announcements, and the third-reading passage of the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill to give enforcement agencies greater powers to protect us from terrorists,  the government has delivered good news – of sorts – for its older citizens.

Whoa.  Maybe we should call them (and ourselves, here at Point of Order)  “seniors”, because the announcement was made by Dr Ayesha Verrall in her capacity as Minister for Seniors.

We fondly recall Verrall being described – just after the 2020 general election – as an infectious diseases expert who

“ .. has been parachuted straight into Cabinet after only being elected last month. Indeed she will be sworn in as a minister before even being sworn in as an MP. New Zealand hasn’t had a first-term MP go straight into Cabinet since Steven Joyce joined John Key’s first Cabinet in 2008.”

Thus looking after our best interests (Point of Order speaks on behalf of all seniors here) was put in the hands of the least experienced Minister.

More interesting, those best interests were put in the hands of a minister of uncertain vintage, although we can confidently declare she is less than half the age of some oldies.

We say this because Wikipedia records Ayesha Jennifer Verrall being born in

1979/1980 (age 40–42)

Invercargill, New Zealand

The Southlanders on your Point of Order editorial team are surprised to find this element of flexibility in the birth records in the country’s southern-most city.

Whatever her exact age, our Minister for Seniors has launched the Better Later Life Action Plan at the virtual Vision for Ageing in Aotearoa conference.

The intention is to set out a pathway for a better future for older New Zealanders.

Mind you, this could be a crafty way of putting our ageing faculties to the test.  Try saying “Better Later Life Action Plan” rapidly three times after sinking a couple of G and Ts in the evening.

Verrall went on:

“Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua is our strategy for ensuring New Zealanders can lead valued, connected and fulfilling lives as they age.”

Commendable, we say. Continue reading “Govt has a senior moment – Verrall announces a pathway (but not too much money) to improve the lot of our older citizens”

Correction: Britain’s gas crisis means Europe’s gas crisis

Remember the 1970s?  We were going to run out of oil and everything revolved around energy prices.

America got into wars because of it and built an enormous strategic stockpile; NZ had carless days and the hydrocarbon developments of Think Big, the last of the great state-directed development projects (well … until the renewables project, national fibre broadband and the distortions of the Resource Management Act that is).

Europe’s natural gas crisis has the potential to head in a similarly dominating direction.

Continue reading “Correction: Britain’s gas crisis means Europe’s gas crisis”

Child care and protection is in for a shake-up but Davis accepts there will still be a need (“as a last resort”) for the state to intervene

A damning review has found that Oranga Tamariki is a “weak, disconnected and unfit” agency – and the Government says it will cease the controversial tactic of child uplifts.

So says NZ Herald political reporter Michael Neilson in the first paragraph of his account of the shake-up in store for the beleaguered Orangi Tamariki child welfare agency.

The Government has accepted all recommendations from the Ministerial Advisory Board which was set up earlier this year to provide advice on how to fix the country’s child care and protection system.

But the press statement from Kelvin Davis does not portend an end to the “uplifts” of children who need to be protected from their parents or care-givers.  

It does say:

Changes will see a major shift in decision making and resources at a local level, empowering communities to work together with Oranga Tamariki in the prevention of harm against children.

Oranga Tamariki has also been given a clear direction that uplifts, or without notice orders, should only be used as a last resort. Continue reading “Child care and protection is in for a shake-up but Davis accepts there will still be a need (“as a last resort”) for the state to intervene”

Govt unveils its guide to housing policies and investment – but check out who gets partnerships and who gets relationships

Border controls have been eased in two government announcements over the past day or so.  Megan Woods, meanwhile, has been busy issuing statements variously as minister of Housing, of Research, Science and Innovation, and of Energy and Resources.

As Housing Minister she drew attention to the Government Policy Statement on Housing and Urban Development (GPS-HUD), which will guide government policies and investments in tackling the housing crisis.

But she announced yet another government initiative – the National Māori Housing Strategy – which is grounded in the government’s highly political interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, an interpretation which has given rise to a spate of race-based “partnerships”.

The place of non-Maori in the Ardern government’s policy-making pecking order is plain from the language in Woods’ press statement:

“The housing crisis we inherited is a challenge the Government can’t tackle on its own.

“We need to pursue meaningful partnerships with iwi and Māori as Te Tiriti o Waitangi partners to make progress.

“We also need to cement resilient relationships with community housing providers and other non-government organisations, local government, the private sector, and communities.”

It’s a “partnership” with Maori and “relationships” with everybody else. Continue reading “Govt unveils its guide to housing policies and investment – but check out who gets partnerships and who gets relationships”

Lower the drawbridge – the PM is planning to bust out of the NZ bubble to talk trade (among other things) in Europe

PM Jacinda Ardern is planning a major visit to Europe next month. Details have yet to be announced but she is expected to visit Paris, Brussels and possibly Berlin.

She is heading NZ’s campaign to secure a free trade agreement with the European Union. First visit is likely to be Paris where she will have a warm welcome from President Emmanuel Macron. This couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.

The French are feeling bruised over the Australia-UK-US nuclear submarine agreement and the cancellation of the $80 billion contract to build French nuclear submarines converted to diesel-electric power in Adelaide. France has already signalled it would not impede a NZ-EU trade pact.

European countries generally are concerned at the new nuclear submarine pact.  EU capitals had no prior warning despite President Joe Biden’s expressed desires to repair relations bruised under Donald Trump.  It was also angered by Biden’s failure to alert Europe of his withdrawal from Afghanistan despite the presence of European forces in that country. Continue reading “Lower the drawbridge – the PM is planning to bust out of the NZ bubble to talk trade (among other things) in Europe”

With MMP the politicians have to decide what Germany has decided

Voters in the German federal election on Sunday had the opportunity to sweep away the detritus of 16 years of compromises from retiring Chancellor Angela Merkel.  

The Green party led in the opinion polls by a good margin earlier in the year.  Only a few days ago, the Guardian dared to dream of a red-blooded left-wing coalition between Social Democrats, Greens and the former communist Left Party united by desire for higher taxes, more pernickety controls and a slug of anti-Americanism.

In the end, the German voters did what they have done for much of the post-war era, giving victory to the parties of the right (acknowledging that these labels seem to be less meaningful these days).

Continue reading “With MMP the politicians have to decide what Germany has decided”

Hipkins gets huffy about “hermit” remark while the PM communicates with the UN General Assembly via Zoom

The Minister in charge of the country’s Covid-19 response, Chris Hipkins, was wrong to say former PM John Key’s description of New Zealand as a “smug hermit kingdom” is an insult to New Zealanders.

The Point of Order team  – for starters – are much more inclined to weigh the merits of what Key said in a newspaper column than feel insulted, take offence, or complain about racism, as too many people do nowadays rather than engage in a robust discussion.

Key’s column set out five suggested strategies to get vaccination rates up and end a reliance on managed isolation at the border.

Hipkins said these are generally already being enacted or looked at.

But he bridled at being reminded about our closed borders: Continue reading “Hipkins gets huffy about “hermit” remark while the PM communicates with the UN General Assembly via Zoom”

The case for Air NZ focusing more on its freight operations

New Zealand’s vulnerability in terms of air and shipping services has been among the ominous consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Air NZ has parked its fleet of eight Boeing 777-200 and seven Boeing 777-300 and reckons they will never fly them again. All its international services are based on its Boeing 787-9 with the -10 on order. These are providing limited passenger and freight services.

Pure freighter services are provided by Qantas with its cargo Boeing 767s while other carriers offer ad hoc Boeing 747-400 cargo flights.

Shipping is even more compromised with limited and increasingly expensive services to North America and Asia.

In the US the situation is more dire because of the notoriously inefficient and slow-moving container ports on the US west coast.  The east coast is much better but the shipping times via the Panama raise costs for shippers. Continue reading “The case for Air NZ focusing more on its freight operations”

Graham Adams: Going where the media won’t

Behind the coverage of David Seymour’s rise in the polls and Maori Language Week lurk inconvenient truths. Graham Adams argues journalists need to be more even-handed to maintain their credibility.


IN THE HULLABALOO that followed Curia’s poll results last week, the media focused mainly on the startling fact that National’s support had collapsed to 21.3 per cent — with all its dire implications for Judith Collins continuing as the party’s leader.

Predictably, the dismal figures spawned a flurry of articles predicting a palace coup — with the rider that the mutiny could not be immediate because Level 4 lockdown prevented the party’s Auckland MPs flying to Wellington en masse to disembowel their leader in person. A coup conducted over Zoom would have been unseemly and presumably unsatisfying to those consumed with blood lust.

The fact that Act reached its highest number in any poll — at 14.9 per cent — was also widely covered, partly because it was seen as a fresh humiliation for Collins, with the party described as “hot on National’s heels”.

While the media was keen to dissect the causes for Collins’ poor showing, however, it didn’t seem nearly as interested in analysing possible reasons for David Seymour’s ascension — including the role played by his tweet revealing the confidential code prioritising access to vaccinations for Māori.

Seymour posted the tweet at 9.49am on September 6. The poll of 1000 respondents was conducted between September 5 and September 9, with the median responses on September 7.

In short, nearly all the polling occurred in the days immediately after Seymour’s message appeared, which also saw his defence of his actions published prominently in the NZ Herald on September 8.

It is clear that despite the widespread condemnation he received in the media — ranging from the Māori Party describing the tweet as a “lowlife move” to the extraordinary response of Newshub’s political editor, Tova O’Brien, calling him a “cockwomble” — his popularity hit new highs. Continue reading “Graham Adams: Going where the media won’t”

China’s problems in property are a difficulty for everyone

As China’s most indebted property developer Evergrande hovers on the brink, the question is where the government will draw the line on support for the firm – and for the financial system.

Markets are nervous but the consensus seems to be that while an example may be made of Evergrande, the damage should be contained there.

But the Financial Times’s Gillian Tett (an insightful chronicler of the 2008 global financial crisis) sees the issue as more fundamental:

“… what is the pillar of faith on which asset values rest? Is it government support? Or is it the independent scrutiny of accounts by investors? Does either pillar work?”

Continue reading “China’s problems in property are a difficulty for everyone”