Greenie groups are grouching about the govt as well as the agriculture sector over greenhouse gases

New Zealand’s  agricultural   industries  on   which  the  country   depends  for the  bulk of  its  export  income are  facing  a  renewed onslaught  from environmental  lobby   groups  which are  challenging the  country’s failure  to place what  they see as an effective  charge  on  agricultural  emissions.  But this  time  Jacinda  Ardern  and James  Shaw are  being bayoneted  alongside  the  farmers.

Greenpeace spokesperson  Christine  Rose  says:

“Jacinda Ardern and James Shaw need to show some mettle, stand up to the dairy industry and include 100% of agricultural emissions immediately”.

Forest  and  Bird is  on a  slightly  more  elevated plane: it  says   it  is calling on He Waka Eke Noa to put their plan to price agricultural greenhouse gas emissions in the bin because even He Waka Eke Noa says it wont actually cut emissions”.

He Waka Eke Noa is the name adopted by a Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership which aims to support farmers and growers to protect, restore and sustain the environment and to enhance the country’s well-being and that of future generations.

According to the discussion document He Waka Eke Noa –

Initial modelling suggests these prices would lead to reductions in total agricultural emissions of less than 1% reduction in both CH4 and N2O below 2017 levels, additional to reductions as a result of other environmental policies.” Continue reading “Greenie groups are grouching about the govt as well as the agriculture sector over greenhouse gases”

While Robertson warbles about a robust economy, critics sound a sour note by measuring the debt

Finance Minister  Grant  Robertson  is  still  singing  heartily from the  same  songbook, as he has  done  through   most  of  the  pandemic:  the  economy  has  remained  resilient,  the  government  is  working  closely  with  business,   we  are  well placed for  recovery, the  Crown accounts show  revenue  above   budget  forecasts, the economy’s  performance  has  exceeded the  expectations of  most  economists.

Pause   for  a  roll  of drums….

Robertson has  been careful  to  throw  in  a  caveat , as  he  did  after  singing this  particular  hymn  in   the  House:

“ The recovery is uneven for some sectors and regions, while the pandemic continues to disrupt global supply chains, which is affecting the New Zealand economy”.  

 But, again, the  Ardern   government   is  on  the  job:

“Key government actions to reduce the impact of the supply chain disruption is being led by the Ministry of Transport with an inter-agency forum, where we are working with both importers and exporters. But there is no quick fix to these global issues”.

 And  then  the  final   stanza:

“The government will continue to take a balanced approach and invest in supporting the recovery and meeting other challenges while carefully managing our resources”. Continue reading “While Robertson warbles about a robust economy, critics sound a sour note by measuring the debt”

An Ardern govt version of bread and circuses for Pasifika people – with an app (recording our vaccine status) for all of NZ

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Giving citizens cheap food and entertainment – bread and circuses – helped Roman politicians gain or hold on to power.  The modern-day equivalent of the circus component of that campaigning technique is the Ardern government’s funding of sporting events – such as the America’s Cup – and festivals.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni chipped in more money today through the Pasifika Festivals Initiative, which provides $12 million over three years.

It should be noted she announced this as part of the transition into a new way of managing COVID-19 and of giving vaccinated New Zealanders more freedoms to enjoy the country’s arts and culture.

Nineteen Pasifika festivals “across the motu” are receiving funding.

“This funding will help to future-proof these festivals and support them to ride the COVID wave and withstand the immediate and sustained impacts of the pandemic.”

‘Tolu Wave’ (the name of the trough) will provide $6.7 million, up to two years’ funding for the successful recipients to hold Pasifika Festivals across the country in 2022 and 2023. Funding also includes support “for capability building to strengthen festival organisations”. Continue reading “An Ardern govt version of bread and circuses for Pasifika people – with an app (recording our vaccine status) for all of NZ”

Promoting indigenous aspirations and saying “thank you” are among Mahuta’s successes on Middle East visit

The modesty of our Foreign Minister is to be admired.  She announced her departure from the Middle East at the weekend in a statement headed Foreign Minister concludes successful visit to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Some Ministers might have been tempted to describe their latest doings as a triumph.

Mahuta may be keeping that word on hold until four new organisations have been established with 50:50 co-governance arrangements to deliver the highly controversial Three Waters programme without her having to compromise

Mind you, it is tempting to ask by what criteria success (or failure, for that matter) is measured after a Minister visits other countries.

In this case it could be regarded as a success – a year after her being give that portfolio – that our Minister of Foreign Affairs at long last has ventured overseas.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark’s weekend achievement was to announce the Government’s decision to review the residential building supply market.

The study will enable the Commerce Commission to investigate any factors that may affect competition for the supply or acquisition of key building supplies. Continue reading “Promoting indigenous aspirations and saying “thank you” are among Mahuta’s successes on Middle East visit”

Maybe Judith Curry will be more famous than Greta Thunberg …

Now, a substantive contribution to the post-COP26 debate.

Ted Nordhaus is the nephew of Nobel prize winner William Nordhaus (who got his “for integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis”).  But it’s fair to say they don’t agree on everything.

You wonder what uncle might think about his surprisingly angry but nonetheless coolly rational attack on ‘big climate’ in the Economist.

Continue reading “Maybe Judith Curry will be more famous than Greta Thunberg …”

Energy markets: the more they change, the more they stay the same

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Which, with baroque variations, is the story from the UK domestic energy market.

As we’ve reported before, the market is suffering from the unfortunate conjunction of soaring input prices and a populist price cap.  As suppliers collapse into the consumer-funded government safety net, the regulator is thrashing around trying to cobble together a fix which might avoid prices rising to their true level too fast, without offending voters or damaging long-term supply.

Continue reading “Energy markets: the more they change, the more they stay the same”

Henare grandstands about govt spending on housing – but the public’s trust in Labour to deliver the goods is slipping

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One new government initiative aims to give a boost to the work done at a wananga based in Whakatane, another gives a boost to Maori housing in nearby Opitiki.

The Minister for Children, Kelvin Davis, joined with big-wigs at Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi for the announcement of the establishment of the Tā Harawira Gardiner Endowed Chair and the Centre for the Child

Further along the road,  the Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing), Peeni Henare, had travelled to Opitiki for …

Well, it looks he was among the guests at a house-warming.

“It’s fantastic to be here in Ōpōtiki alongside the iwi Whakatōhea supported by the Whakatōhea Māori Trust Board to celebrate the opening of this new home and the whānau moving into it,” Peeni Henare said.

The new home is one of five financed with support from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, which suggests there will be five house-warming opportunities for ministerial grandstanding and five opportunities for Henare to issue press statements like this one.

The government is collaborating with Maori tribes to deliver more homes to local families where supply is an issue. Continue reading “Henare grandstands about govt spending on housing – but the public’s trust in Labour to deliver the goods is slipping”

$10m is being invested in a rheumatic fever vaccine – but will the most vulnerable people line up to be vaccinated?

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Our good health – and how to make it even better – has preoccupied ministers over the past 24 hours.

Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall has announced a $10 million Government investment in the development of a vaccine to help prevent rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease.

And the Minister for COVID-19 Response, Chris Hipkins, has announced a shipment of 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in New Zealand from Australia.

On the opposite side of the political divide, National’s health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti has criticised the stopping of weekly audits of personal protective equipment (PPE) inventory.

And National leader Judith Collins – on  policing measures being introduced to control the spread of Covid-19 – accused the government of continuing to duck simple questions about how its stop-and-check travel restrictions are supposed to work in practice.

Ayesha Verrall , announcing the investment in the development of a vaccine to help prevent rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease, said rheumatic fever can have a devastating impact, especially for Māori and Pacific children and young people.

The University of Auckland will lead research next year into the vaccine development, which will complement existing work under way in Australia.

“Because New Zealand and Australia are among the few developed countries to still have rheumatic fever, it makes sense for us to collaborate to develop a vaccine. This $10 million investment will help ensure the vaccine is appropriate for the strains of Strep A circulating in Aotearoa New Zealand,” Ayesha Verrall said.

Funding will also support activities such as enhanced surveillance of Group A streptococcus, more infrastructure for laboratory testing, and preparations to ensure New Zealand is ready to conduct clinical trials.

Just how big is the problem Verrall is addressing?

Her statements says that in 2020/21, 107 people were hospitalised for the first time with rheumatic fever in New Zealand.

We can stack this alongside data showing there are about 40,000 hospital admissions of children in New Zealand every year, with preventable illnesses that have links to poverty and unhealthy housing. The number of such admissions has increased since 2000.

This raises questions about the best way to invest $10 million – in health research that might come up with a remedy or  in more immediate initiatives?

But Verrall has focused today on the prospect of one disease being conquered.

She notes that other Government action to reduce rheumatic fever includes the expansion of the Healthy Homes Initiative to prevent childhood hospitalisations – by increasing the number of children living in warm, dry homes.

Her information shows:

  • Rheumatic fever starts from a strep throat infection, and causes the heart, joints, brain and skin to become inflamed and swollen.
  • People who’ve caught rheumatic fever need to have monthly antibiotic injections for at least 10 years, to prevent it returning – and developing into rheumatic heart disease.
  • Māori and Pacific youbng people between the ages of four and 19 years old have the highest rates of rheumatic fever. Among Pacific peoples, rheumatic fever occurs mainly in Samoan and Tongan children and young people.

The Science Media Centre has published this news today and sought expert comment.

It says:

Preventing rheumatic fever may become within reach, as $10mill is secured to support design of a vaccine.

But whoa.  The problem group – Maori and Pacific people – is where  the government’s efforts to lift the vaccination rate to tackle Covid-19.  They are not being vaccinated for a raft of reasons, among them a distrust of government and a wariness about medicines the government  urges them to take.

Why should they treat other vaccines differently?

The Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor has published a report today on rheumatic fever. This Evidence Summary found preventing strep throat infection through vaccination could make a significant difference to the rates of infection and subsequent complications of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease.

You can read it here:

Latest from the Beehive

Funding for vaccine development to help prevent rheumatic fever

Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall has announced today the Government is supporting the development of a vaccine to help prevent rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease.

AstraZeneca arrives in New Zealand; second COVID-19 vaccine available this month

New Zealanders will soon be able to access a second type of COVID-19 vaccine, Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins said.

The PM loses her halo in assessment of ministers – but how did Sepuloni earn her higher rating?

Latest   polling    showed   Labour’s  rating    at 41%,  down  2 points from the  previous  sampling. Significantly,  it  charted  Prime Minister  Jacinda Ardern’s  rating  slipping  even  faster,  to  39%  or  5 points lower.

The trend  confirmed  what  some of  the  country’s  top political journalists (Barry  Soper  of  Newstalk ZB   and Audrey Young  of  the  NZ  Herald) had   already  been  telling their   audiences: that  Jacinda  Ardern’s  halo  had floated  out  to  sea.

In  fact  Audrey Young, in  a  recent   article   on  how  cabinet  ministers have been performing, gave Ardern   only  7  out  of  ten, down 1  from  the  previous rankings  six months  ago.

The  slippage  may  have  accelerated, given that Ardern’s  excusing Auckland’s tardy emergence  to  freedom is  causing  immense  frustration  among  Aucklanders. That   frustration   was  compounded when  Ardern chose  to flip  in  and out  of  Auckland,  using  an RNZAF  757 jet  for the  flight  from Wellington (hey,  no  worry  about the  carbon  emissions, even  though Cop 26  was  in  session  at the  time).

But  back  to  Audrey  Young’s   Cabinet ratings:  what put  her assessment of  Ardern’s  fall  from the  heights into perspective is  that  she  rated   seven   ministers  as  doing  better—-

  • 9/10: Robertson (no change), Sepuloni (+2), O’Connor (+5); and
  • 8/10: Little (-1), Henare (+1), Wood (-1), Shaw (no change).

What  might have  upset  Ardern fans  even  more  was  that the PM was  placed  alongside Phil Twyford, and William Aupito Sio,  not  to  mention  Kiri Allan who had  spent  months  recovering  after treatment  for  cancer.

Of  course   those  fans  might  have  cited  Carmel  Sepuloni  being  given  a  9  out of ten  as    showing something awry with Audrey Young’s judgement.

Lindsay Mitchell, on  her  blog, pointed out   just how  well Sepuloni  had  actually  performed  in the social  welfare  field.

These  are the ministry’s own progress indicators:

  • Average future years on a benefit have increased from 10.6 years in 2017 to 12.4 years
  • Median time to house clients has increased from 54 days to 168 days
  • Percentage of clients who exit a benefit who return to it within one years – increased from 51% to 69%
  • Client net trust score dropped in the last year from +43 to +40.

Point  of  Order   has  difficulty seeing  Nanaia Mahuta  given a  7  out  of  ten  ranking. Her  bludgeoning of local  bodies  in her  Three  Waters policy  demonstrates  a  total  disregard  for  democratic  values.

And  how could Marama  Davidson  rank  alongside Megan  Woods, Stuart  Nash,  or  Ayehsa  Verrall?   Some   would assert   Verrall,  in  her  first  term  in Parliament,  has  shown  a  range  of  skills    that  marks  her  out   for a  senior  portfolio  in  the  next term .

In  any  case,  there   is  plenty   to  chew  over, as  ministers  (and the  country)  enter  the  final  weeks  of  what  history might  mark  as  a  difficult  year  for  politicians  of  all stripes, but  especially  its leaders.


Aucklanders (many of them, anyway) are to be freed from Covid curbs soon – but the rest of NZ has cause for anxiety

More than one announcement from the Beehive yesterday has the potential to affect the country’s health and general wellbeing in one way or another.

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi – for example – was chuffed about the the Three Strikes Legislation Repeal Bill passing its first reading in Parliament.

But critics fear this legislation  will put several of the worst criminals in New Zealand back on our streets over the next four years.

ACT Justice spokesperson Nicole McKee said:

“Three Strikes offenders make up just one per cent of all convictions, they have an average of 75 convictions, they are the worst and most violent offenders New Zealand has seen. They aren’t behind bars for petty theft or minor crimes. They have beaten, raped and murdered people.

“For every offence carried out by these people, there is a victim…” Continue reading “Aucklanders (many of them, anyway) are to be freed from Covid curbs soon – but the rest of NZ has cause for anxiety”