Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – answering questions in Parliament on Tuesday – ominously reinforced impressions she believes the Treaty of Waitangi entitles some New Zealanders to more political rights than others.
The entitlement of tribal leaders to appoint their own representatives to local authorities rather than stand for election, for example.
She was asked if she stood by her statement at Waitangi in 2019 that “Equality is our foundation”, and, if so, did she believe that our constitutional foundation should be equal political rights for all New Zealanders?
As Hansard records, she opted to address only part of the question:
Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: In answer to the first part of the question, yes.
The questions were asked by ACT leader David Seymour, who has called for a public referendum on co-governance decision-making arrangements between Māori and the Crown.
In a speech to the Milford Rotary Club last week, he cited He Puapua, Three Waters and the Māori Health Authority as examples of co-governance principles being wrongly applied.
Presumably he hoped his questions in Parliament would flush out Ardern’s thinking on democracy, co-governance, the Treaty of Waitangi and so on. Continue reading “The PM urges sophistication in our thinking about democracy – to make it gel with co-governance (and unelected councillors)”
For successive days in Parliament this week National’s Mark Mitchell has been asking Police Minister Poto Williams whether gang violence has increased or decreased under her watch—and whether gang membership has risen in that time.
Adopting a technique favoured by her leader, Williams is apt to say “I reject the premise of that question”.
It’s a neat way of answering without providing the information that has been requested.
Here’s how Hansard recorded the exchange on this point: Continue reading “How Poto Williams rejected a premise and denied Nats the data sought about gang membership”
The government – or, more specially, David Clark – has us wondering about the effect(s) of a “prohibition”.
No, not Prohibition (with a capital P), the word applied to the 1920-1933 era when the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages was illegal in the USA and gangsters flourished.
We refer to “prohibition” as in “ban”, meaning something has been forbidden, outlawed, disallowed or made illegal.
Once something has been prohibited, banned, forbidden, outlawed, disallowed or otherwise made illegal – murder, for example – what more can a government do?
It could toughen the penalties, certainly. But it can’t make murder any more illegal – can it?
Our thinking on this question was triggered by a statement from Commerce Minister David Clark which emerged from the Beehive along with news of
- The arrival this week of the first batch of the 60,000 courses of Paxlovid coming this year to be used from next week.
- The Government’s support for Air New Zealand (as the majority shareholder) by committing to participate in the national carrier’s proposal to raise capital and accelerate the recovery for the airline
- The appointment of Karl Le Quesne as the new Chief Electoral Officer of the Electoral Commission.
- Grants totalling $154,000 for rural communities in the Waikato, Otago and the West Coast “to develop and drive solutions to local challenges”.
Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Clark toughens competition law – but can an illegal activity be made more illegal”
Communication, in various forms, was a common factor in three of the latest statements from the Beehive.
One of these – released in the names of the PM and two other ministers – declared that Jacinda Ardern has officially opened the Transmission Gully motorway, in time for the Easter break, school holidays, “and the return of tourists to New Zealand”.
Two other statements, dealing with digital-age technologies, advised us of –
- A new research project which aims to fast-track the delivery of a digital solution for farm environment plans.
- The latest data which records progress in improving internet connectivity for rural areas across the country.
Oh – and there was some stuff about Covid-19 and how to combat it.
The Government has launched a new targeted rural service of rapid antigen tests for those who live in remote rural areas. And new guidance for businesses and organisations to help them deal with upcoming changes to vaccination requirements has been released.
Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta popped up, too, with news she has signed a partnership statement.
Not a treaty partnership statement. This one strengthens this country’s relationship with Fiji. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Oh dear, Robertson dents the Nats in a sideswipe about Transmission Gully delays”
Ministers have been celebrating their wisdom in raising benefits substantially from April 1.
Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni led the chorus by telling Parliament it is the biggest lift to main benefits in decades. For many years, the rate of main benefits has fallen further behind the average wage, placing many people, including children, in undue hardship, she said.
That was an unusual admission, given the Labour Party has been in office for four years.
So now the good news:
“In addition to indexing main benefits to wage growth, we are further lifting main benefits so they don’t fall further behind. The Ministry of Social Development’s analysis shows that from 1 April, a couple on a benefit with children will now be, on average, $237 a week better off than they were when the Government took office in 2017.
“As a Government, we have worked hard to lift as many children out of poverty as possible, and while raising the level of main benefit is only one way to achieve our goal, it is an incredibly important step in the right direction”. Continue reading “Bigger benefits from tomorrow – bravo! But they might not buy as much as before”
Budget Day is now seven weeks away and lobby groups are hammering on the Finance Minister’s door for the relief they believe they need, deserve, and which is their right.
The Save the Children lobby group issued a press statement this week saying:
“The grim reality is many families are continuing to try to make do without life’s essentials such as healthy food, warm homes or access to health care”.
Advocacy and Research Director Jacqui Southey says while the child rights organisation is supportive of the lift in core benefits that will come into force later this week these “small lifts” will not cover the steep rise in the current cost of living.
“Economic modelling on adequate benefit levels released by the Fairer Futures Coalition clearly shows that even with the new increase, benefit levels fall well short of covering the basic cost of living.
“It is essential that every New Zealander can attain their right to a decent standard of living and incomes levels are critical to achieving this. “Families on the lowest incomes are so stretched they do not have the luxury of cost cutting to make ends meet”. Continue reading “Promoting well-being in this year’s Budget (and avoiding an inflationary cycle) will be challenging for Robertson”
The PM has been focussed on the horrors of the war in Ukraine and on offering Kiwi help while her Foreign Affairs Minister – doubtless with a wary eye on China – has been fixed on helping maintain peace and stability in the Solomon Islands.
Two of their colleagues, meanwhile, were fascinated by the glitz of Hollywood and the pizzaz of the Academy Awards presentation (although this was not without a moment of violence).
On the home front, other members of the Ardern team variously were announcing –
- The introduction of the Fair Pay Agreements Bill to Parliament. These agreements are intended to improve wages and conditions for employees, encourage businesses to invest in training, “and level the playing field so that employers who are trying hard to offer fair terms don’t get undercut and disadvantaged”. This means the government aims to reduce a company’s ability to compete.
- Awards of funding (described as a $3.6 million investment) to 16 national and regional organisations to increase opportunities for young people with disabilities in sport and recreation. Moreover, Sport and Recreation minister Grant Robertson has dipped into “my Ministerial Discretionary Fund” to support Special Olympics with a $44,000 grant.
- The closure of depleted scallop fisheries in Northland and most of the Coromandel to allow them to recover.
What might have sounded like a bold decision to provide further military support to Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian invaders actually entails the dispatch of nine Defence Force staff to other countries in Europe. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: nine NZ personnel head for Europe while peace-keeping deployment in Solomons is extended”
Māori are good students when they are afforded the proper opportunity to learn and their right to unbiased access to optimal education should be protected vigorously.
This firm belief is among the reasons why Professor Garth Cooper, DPhil (Oxon) DSc (Oxon) FRCPA FMedSci, joined six other University of Auckland professors and signed a letter, “In defence of science”, published in July last year by the New Zealand Listener. The signatories questioned proposals to include mātauranga Māori in the school science curriculum and to give it equal standing with Western/ Pakeha subjects such as physics, biology and chemistry.
The professors do not oppose the teaching of mātauranga Māori in anthropology, Māori studies, cultural studies, or similar social studies. They do challenge its being taught in the science curriculum.
Cooper and Professor Robert Nola have resigned both as members and as fellows of the Royal Society of New Zealand (as Point of Order reported on March 18) following the society’s decision not to formally proceed with a complaint against them as Fellows of the Society.
The complaint was laid after the publication of the letter In defence of science.
Robert Nola has explained why he resigned from the society.
Garth Cooper – who has Māori heritage and is described on the University of Auckland website as one of New Zealand’s foremost biological scientists and biotechnology entrepreneurs – explains here why he resigned …
Why did I resign from the Royal Society of New Zealand?
Garth J S Cooper DPhil (Oxon) DSc (Oxon) FRCPA FMedSci
My reasons for resigning from the Royal Society of New Zealand relate to its loss of understanding of its raison d’être; suppression of free speech; failure to properly support science and science education; untoward political focus of management and governance processes; and prolonged defamation of myself and Professors Michael Corballis (now sadly deceased) and Robert Nola, by certain of its authorities. Continue reading “Garth Cooper’s reasons for resigning from the Royal Society – they include his stance on science education for Māori”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the “draft agreement” for a move by China to station military forces on the Solomon Islands is “gravely concerning” .
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta is similarly exercised, but whether Defence Minister Peeni Henare feels the same concern has yet to be disclosed, although Point of Order believes the issue may have been discussed with Australia’s Peter Dutton when Henare visited Canberra last week.
Before his meeting with Henare, Dutton said it was a standing agenda item “for all of us to be realistic about China’s footprint, their exertion, their pressure and the way in which they conduct their business”.
Whether the same measure of realism has developed in Wellington is far from certain.
While Australia is busy beefing up outlays on its defence systems, that is not the case with the Ardern government and morale in NZ defence forces is said to be at a low ebb.
What may dismay New Zealanders is that any concern over China’s planning for a military base in the Solomons will not be followed up by a prompt review of the state of NZ’s own military capability. Continue reading “Keeping an eye on China and the Solomons – let’s hope the PM’s concerns are translated into appropriate Defence policy”
Several awards had been presented to Academy Award hopefuls at time of writing, including the first televised award. Ariadne DeBose won the Oscar for best supporting actress.
But ahead of the big occasion in Hollywood, two Ministers aimed to get a share of the spotlight by acknowledging that a New Zealand delegation had headed to Los Angeles to lift the profile of our screen sector. This gelled with the Kiwi co-production The Power of the Dog going up against the world’s best for the Academy Awards.
Fair to say, the press statement (if you read all of it) did acknowledge there was another Kiwi in the running for an Oscar.
Stuff was more appreciative that Wellingtonian Sean Walker was basking among the stars on the red carpet ahead of the Oscars ceremony in Hollywood and described him as a superstar.
Walker, who is nominated for best visual effects for his team’s work on Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is getting the full celebrity experience at the 94th Academy Awards. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Using the Oscars to put a spotlight on the investment of public funds in the movie business”