Buzz from the Beehive – was it Winston Peters who last mentioned “democracy” in an Anzac Day speech?

It is a measure of the Government’s regard for the democracy that is being “tweaked” on her watch that Jacinda Ardern didn’t drop that word into her Speech to Mt Albert Anzac Day Service.

More than a century after the first Anzac Day commemorations were held in 1916 “in sober remembrance of those who had been involved in the Gallipoli campaign”, she said,.

“… this annual recognition of the service and sacrifice of New Zealanders in war remains equally significant, as we take pause to recognise all who have returned from service, and all who have been lost to us.”

And:

“Anzac Day is a time to give thanks to today’s armed forces who strive to uphold the values we hold dear as they continue to serve in areas of conflict overseas.”

Point of Order delved back to 2019 to find mention of democracy in a ministerial speech on Anzac Day.  On that occasion the speech was delivered by Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters at the Danish Institute of International Studies in Copenhagen.

Peters, leader of New Zealand First, is no longer in office to impede Labour’s constitutional reconstruction as its coalition partner.  But it seems he is still a champion of democracy because he recently declared:

“The insidious creep of the racist, separatist, secretive co-governance agenda must be stopped now…”  

In Copenhagen, he explained that Anzac Day was the day on which Kiwis and Australians commemorate the sacrifices made by our service men and women over the last century and more in the pursuit of freedom. He said.

“A great number of New Zealanders lost their lives during two world wars fighting to defend Europe from tyranny and from fascisim.  It is therefore a privilege to speak today in Denmark, a thriving, peaceful and innovative democracy with which our country – New Zealand – shares so much.”

 Peters mentioned “the values that drive us”, including democracy.

“New Zealand is one of only nine countries with an uninterrupted sequence of democratic elections since 1854”.

But now – as Deputy PM Grant Robertson acknowledged this morning – our government is “adapting” core democratic principles to ensure better outcomes for Māori.

Radio NZ’s account of this interview includes a pointer to an item headed –

“We’re interested in things that work” Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson (7 min 53 sec)

Work at what?

If efficiency of government spending is the objective, for example, we could learn a lot from the United Arab Emirates, which ranks number one on a World Economic Forum, Executive Opinion Survey for efficiency in fiscal management.

Qatar (fourth), Rwanda (fifth) and Saudi Arabia (seventh) are worth emulating, too, because they all come in ahead of New Zealand (eighth).

None of those countries has much time for “democracy” of the sort Peters mentioned in his speech,  although maybe Robertson’s recognition of the benefits of other forms of government  explains why he is arguing the case for tweaking…

Latest from the Beehive

26 APRIL 2022

Helping some of New Zealand’s highest energy users slash their emissions

The Government is helping even more of New Zealand’s biggest industrial players slash their emissions faster, with one of the Government’s biggest hitters when it comes to supporting decarbonisation, Minister of Energy and Resources, Dr Megan Woods announced today.

Boosting biggest city’s environment cred

More than 50 jobs are being created across Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland with the launch of three new Government-backed initiatives, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.

Celebrating 30 years of Great Walks

The opening of the 2022-23 Great Walks booking season next week heralds 30 years of epic adventures in our backyard throughout the country, says Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan.

Speech 

25 APRIL 2022

Prime Minister’s Speech to Mt Albert Anzac Day Service

Let me start by saying how wonderful it is to see people up and down the country gathering together in person again this year, in commemoration of Anzac Day.

Let’s recall how NZ was surprised by signing of indigenous rights declaration – and how Mahuta criticised the Key govt’s secrecy

Announcing the completion of the first stage of the two-step engagement process to develop “a Declaration Plan”, Willie Jackson acknowledged the work was being done through race-tinted glasses.

Almost 70 “targeted engagement workshops” had been held mainly online, the Minister for Māori Development said.

“Māori rōpū represented diverse groups ranging from iwi, hapū, tāngata whaikaha Māori (disability community) and rangatahi, to groups interested in health, education, and the environment.

“There were 12 key themes from the Māori targeted engagement covering areas such as rangatiratanga, participation in government, equity and fairness. It ran from Sept 2021 to Feb 2022 and some engagement is ongoing. You can read the full report and other resources here.”

The drafting of the Declaration Plan would now begin in partnership with the National Iwi Chairs Forum’s Pou Tikanga and the Human Rights Commission

“… before being shared for public consultation later this year”.

Under the Government’s discriminatory consultation timetable, and at long last…

“All New Zealanders will get the chance to comment on the range of actions proposed in the draft Declaration Plan.”

And so the leaders of one ethnic group representing 17 per cent of the population, have been enabled over several months to give the Government a wish list which now is being curated by officials before being presented for discussion by the whole population.  Continue reading “Let’s recall how NZ was surprised by signing of indigenous rights declaration – and how Mahuta criticised the Key govt’s secrecy”

Buzz from the Beehive – and a fly in the ointment for Tweaker Coffey’s plans to rattle Rotorua’s voting arrangements

Alerted by press statements from National and ACT (here and here), Point of Order wondered if the  Report of the Attorney-General under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 on the Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill had been mentioned on the Beehive website yesterday.

It hadn’t.   Since our previous report on the activities of our ministers, just two press statements had been posted.

One advised us of the Government-financed rebuild of the Rangiriri Pa Trenches complex in Waikato, the first project completed from a special regional economic development fund for sites of cultural significance. The other was a Statement on Cooperation in Agriculture between Japan and New Zealand.

The Attorney-General’s advice has been  sent to Parliament’s Maori Affairs Committee, which is chaired by list MP Tamati Coffey, and can be found on the Parliamentary website here.

It more than somewhat challenges the thinking of the Government’s Tweakocrats and Sophistocrats by stating (more or less) that in terms of complying with this country’s Bill of Rights, the Rotorua bill is a crock.

Among other things, it says:

In a representative democracy, it is important to maintain approximately the same level of representation for everyone. The proposed arrangements in the Bill would make the number of council members for the Māori ward disproportionately higher than the number of council members for the general ward in comparison to their respective populations. As the disadvantaged group is those on the General roll, changing representation arrangements away from proportional representation therefore creates a disadvantage for non-Māori as they cannot in future elect to change rolls.

And:

This proposed arrangement detracts from the key constitutional principle of equal representation in a representative democracy. I consider that there must be strong reasons to depart from this fundamental constitutional principle and, accordingly, to justify the limit on the right to freedom from discrimination. Departures from the Local Electoral Act may also have broader constitutional impacts and need to be carefully considered. Arrangements like these, if replicated across other local bodies could result in significant impacts, which may be better considered in full by central government and Parliament.

This (we imagine) will be of interest to Coffey not only because he is chairman of the select committee but also because he is the bill’s sponsor.

Another good reason for ditching the bill – of course – is that the recently published Local Government Commission’s determination for Rotorua offers a more equitable representation arrangement for that city.

More than a week after politely asking Coffey whether the bill will proceed on the strength of that determination , we have yet to hear from him.

Latest from the Beehive

23 APRIL 2022

Rangiriri Pa trench rebuild shines a light on our shared histories

The shared nineteenth-century histories of Aotearoa-New Zealand have come to life with the official opening today of one of the most culturally significant sites of the 1860s New Zealand Wars.

 Statement on Cooperation in Agriculture between Japan and New Zealand

Japan and New Zealand’s strong partnership is built on a long tradition of official and industry engagement, underpinned by our natural complementarities and strong business relationships.

Dr Bryce Edwards:  Rotorua’s voting proposals and the polarising issue for Parliament of co-governance

****

Announcing completion of the the first stage of the two-step engagement process to develop “a Declaration Plan”, Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson today said valuable feedback had been received to help with drafting the plan on indigenous people’s rights over the next few weeks before it is taken out to wider consultation. 

As stated previously, he insisted, He Puapua is not the Declaration Plan, nor is it Government policy.  Furthermore, the Declaration Plan will not just be about co-governance, he said.

But this does not necessarily mean co-governance is being lowered in the government’s considerations.   In this article, DR BRYCE EDWARDS canvasses the debate the co-governance issue has engendered …

 ****

Co-governance is currently the most polarising issue in New Zealand politics. There’s something of a culture war over the concept of giving Māori voters or leaders a mandated equal political influence in public affairs. It’s an issue that has the potential to be socially explosive as plans are being developed and debated for how far the co-governance concept should be introduced in different areas of public life.

The co-governance issue of the day is whether local government elections could be altered so voters on the Māori electoral roll have the power to elect exactly the same number of councillors as those on the general role. The council in question is the Rotorua District Council, which has asked Parliament to give it legislative permission to introduce a new system for this year’s elections, allowing voters on the Māori and general rolls to elect three councillors each.

Critics point out that there are 22,000 voters on the Māori roll in Rotorua and 56,000 voters on the general roll, and that means voters on the Māori roll will have 2.5 times the electoral power as voters on the general roll. Continue reading “Dr Bryce Edwards:  Rotorua’s voting proposals and the polarising issue for Parliament of co-governance”

Sepuloni is chuffed about reduction in numbers on benefits – but more than 300,000 Kiwis are being succoured by the state

Social Development  and  Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni  was  quick  off  the mark to announce  the government’s  achievement in  getting  more  people off benefits. She  says the government’s response to COVID-19 has helped keep people in work, with March Quarter Benefit statistics showing a further fall in the number of people receiving a main benefit and jobseeker assistance.

There were 19,883 fewer people on a main benefit, compared with December, with near-record numbers of people moving into work, Sepuloni said.

The figures also showed an annual fall of 4.8 per cent in the number of people receiving a main benefit.

She  claims  it  was the government’s quick response to COVID-19  that had worked, with initiatives such as the Wage Subsidy and the economic support packages keeping people in work and delivering record low unemployment. Continue reading “Sepuloni is chuffed about reduction in numbers on benefits – but more than 300,000 Kiwis are being succoured by the state”

Buzz from the Beehive – the people are being consulted (hurrah) but most must wait to see Jackson’s “Declaration Plan”

A government aiming to “tweak” our democratic governance arrangements – in a programme  which our PM says requires  “sophistication” – has declared its readiness to listen to the people.  On some things, at least.

On the health-restructuring front it has announced

“… how New Zealanders will have a real voice in determining the health services provided in their community as part of the new health system”.

Health Minister Andrew Little said this when announcing nine locality network pilots intended to improve the delivery of healthcare in local communities.

On a programme of more far-reaching constitutional significance, the government has completed the first stage of a “two-step engagement process to develop a Declaration Plan”.

A Declaration Plan?  This is something on which Māori leaders and interest groups have been consulted, which is ominously instructive.  Drafting will now commence in partnership with the National Iwi Chairs Forum’s Pou Tikanga and the Human Rights Commission before it is shared for public consultation later this year. So just be patient, folks – your turn will come, presumably well after you can change things much.

But this consulting caper hasn’t been allowed to go too far.  In Tauranga the commissioners who displaced elected councillors  have been reappointed by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

Latest from the Beehive

22 APRIL 2022

Commissioners reappointed to Tauranga City Council

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the reappointment of four commissioners to the Tauranga City Council.

Next steps in Declaration Plan

“We’ve now completed the first stage of the two-step engagement process to develop a Declaration Plan.

Public Media entity Establishment Board appointments

The Minister for Broadcasting and Media has confirmed the nine-member Establishment Board to lead the work on creating a new public media entity in New Zealand.

Prime Minister has productive meeting with Prime Minister of Japan

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had a productive meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo today.

Joint Statement: Japan and Aotearoa New Zealand: a Strategic Cooperative Partnership for Common Peace, Security and Prosperity

The Prime Minister of Japan His Excellency KISHIDA Fumio and the Prime Minister of New Zealand the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern held a productive and substantive meeting in Tokyo on 21 April 2022.

21 APRIL 2022

NZ, Japan team up on renewable energy

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today welcomed two renewable energy initiatives that highlight the growing partnership between Japan and New Zealand as both countries work towards a greener future.

Veterans Minister congratulates RSA on 100 years since first Poppy Appeal

Veterans Minister Meka Whaitiri has congratulated the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association (RSA) on 100 years since the first Poppy Appeal in New Zealand, held on April 24, 1922.

New technology for e-waste switched on

A new state-of-the-art machine that sorts and shreds electronic waste has officially started operation in Auckland today.

CPI figures highlight global economic challenges

Further increases in consumer prices are a reminder of the current global economic challenges and the need for responsible fiscal policy in New Zealand, Grant Robertson said today.

Government supports more people off benefit

The Government’s response to COVID-19 has helped keep people in work, with March Quarter Benefit statistics showing a further fall in the number of people receiving a main benefit and jobseeker assistance.

Speech

Andrew Little Locality network announcement speech, Levin | Taitoko, 21 April 2022

Locality planning networks are an essential feature of the health reforms which, subject to the legislation passing in Parliament, will take effect on 1 July.

Health Reform – Govt ensures local say in health services

The Government has announced how New Zealanders will have a real voice in determining the health services provided in their community as part of the new health system.

Overseas forces are to blame for the surge in our living costs? But non-tradables inflation (up 6 per cent) then must be explained…

In the wake of the latest inflation figures being published today, showing the consumers price index has risen at its fastest pace in some 30 years, the burning question is whether we  have  a  cost  of  living  crisis.

Opposition  parties  (inevitably) seized on the annual 6.9 per cent CPI increase to insist prices  are  out of  control.  National Party leader  Christopher  Luxon says prices   are  a  “silent  thief in  your  pocket”.

On  the other side  of  the political fence, the  Council of Trade Unions contends that inflation  is  being  driven by the price  of  property  and  the  price  of  fuel.

The man who is  running the economy accepts  no  responsibility.   Finance  Minister Grant  Robertson   says  the increases in consumer prices are a “reminder of the current global economic challenges” – but he  adds, almost as an afterthought, they  do  show the need for responsible fiscal policy in New Zealand.

Whatever the huffing and puffing politically, the  hard  fact  is that a  New  Zealander  who  took out  a  30-year  mortgage a  year  ago fixed  for  a  year and  who is  now  looking  to refix could  find  monthly  payments  go  up a formidable 33 per cent. Continue reading “Overseas forces are to blame for the surge in our living costs? But non-tradables inflation (up 6 per cent) then must be explained…”

Democracy and voter equality is all Greek to Coffey – but he does favour tweaking the electoral system to give us a Treatocracy

Tamati Coffey, a Labour list MP and chairman of Parliament’s Māori Affairs Committee, may well be busy answering hundreds of letters. Point of Order therefore should be more patient while we await his responses to questions we put to him.

On the other hand, he may ignore all correspondence.

In that case we would have cause to be aggrieved because – as the chairman of a select committee – we understand that our taxes contribute to his Parliamentary salary of $179,713 plus an expenses entitlement of $16,980.

The questions we emailed to Coffey on Thursday last week were triggered by the recently published Local Government Commission’s determination for Rotorua.

This would result in three Māori Ward Councillors being elected in Rotorua’s local government elections, but (as Kiwiblog pointed out) without sacrificing the important principle of equality of suffrage. Continue reading “Democracy and voter equality is all Greek to Coffey – but he does favour tweaking the electoral system to give us a Treatocracy”

Buzz from the Beehive – and a mouthful from Michael Wood as he invites us to muse on ministry’s future-proofing mission

Great minds have been at work in the Ministry of Transport to concoct a catchy name for a new discussion paper – and a forest will be toppled to provide the paper simply to print the title page.

The ministry’s objective is to provide New Zealand with a more resilient, productive and lower-carbon freight and supply chain sector that will play a pivotal role in growing the economy “and future proof it from further international shocks”.

By the time you have read the title of the discussion paper, we suspect, the future will be upon us…

Transport Minister Michael Wood revealed it when he launched Te rautaki ueā me te rautaki whakawhiwhinga o Aotearoa – New Zealand freight & supply chain issues paper, the first step in developing a strategy that will optimise the supply chain over the next 30 years.

The PM, before leaving Singapore for Japan, announced an arrangement with her hosts about supply chains, too, as well as announcing the signing of a “sustainable aviation arrangement” with Singapore.

Latest from the Beehive

20 APRIL 2022

Sustainable Aviation Arrangement signed with Singapore

A New Zealand-Singapore Sustainable Aviation Arrangement signed today marks the start of greater collaboration as both countries move towards low carbon economies, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

NZ, Singapore join forces on supply chain disruptions

New Zealand and Singapore have pledged to continue working together on supply chains following global disruptions caused by COVID-19.

Taking action on biodiversity challenges

The Aotearoa New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy 2020 – Te Mana o te Taiao – now has an accompanying implementation plan, aimed at driving collective action to tackle New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis.

New rules to include all finfish in combined daily bag limit for recreational fishers

Rules for daily limits on recreationally caught finfish will change to include species that previously had no limit, Oceans and Fisheries Minister, David Parker announced today.

Government takes action to future proof supply chain

A more resilient, productive and lower carbon freight and supply chain sector that will play a pivotal role in growing the economy, and future proof it from further international shocks, is now a step closer.

Luxon’s health-reform (and co-governance) predictions are dismissed as “misinformation” – but shouldn’t we wait and see?

On the Māori Television website, a contretemps involving National leader Chris Luxon is innocuously described as Te Ao with Moana, Series 4 Episode 7.

There’s a bit more information.  It happened on Monday this week:

Moana sits down with the leader of the National Party Christopher Luxon.

But she did not down to chat with him – or, necessarily, to conduct an interview.

What transpired is better summed up on Newshub:

Veteran Māori broadcaster Moana Maniapoto accused National leader Christopher Luxon of “misinformation” during a fiery debate about co-governance. 

We can argue about whether Luxon was guilty of spreading “misinformation”, “disinformation” or neither. But let’s put that aside for now.

Luxon raised Maniapoto’s hackles while explaining his opposition to the Ardern Government’s centralised co-governance arrangements, like the new Māori Health Authority.

“We’ve had co-governance in the past-National government that’s been bounded around Treaty claims and iwi managing local natural resources essentially working with local government,” Luxon explained. 

“What we now seem to be talking about is co-governance with respect to the delivery of public services and my issue is I believe a single system with innovation and components around targeting people on the basis of need and partnering through devolution and through localism with iwi and through local government, to actually get better outcomes.”

The Newshub report notes that the Maori Health Authority is a key component of the Government’s health system reforms.  The country’s 20 District Health Boards are being replaced by a new centralised entity, Health NZ, and a Māori Health Authority is being established.

The Māori Health Authority was decided after the Health and Disability System Review found that Māori health outcomes were “significantly worse” than those of other Kiwis.

The review said those outcomes represent a “failure of the health and disability system” that did not reflect Treaty of Waitangi commitments.

Luxon has committed his party to scrapping the Māori Health Authority if National wins the election next year.

Maniapoto plainly believes this is a bad policy commitment, regardless of the financial costs or whether the money spent on setting up the Maori Health Authority – and keeping it going – might be better spent on supplying treatment rather than administration.

“Isn’t Māori health in such a crisis that we do need to pile more money in and be very brave and bold in our thinking?” Maniapoto asked Luxon. 

He replied: “All we’re going to do is amalgamate and centralise and build a massive bureaucracy that will end up competing with Health New Zealand.”

Luxon presumably meant to say that all the Ardern government was going to do was amalgamate and centralise and build a massive bureaucracy that will end up competing with Health New Zealand.

But rather than seek clarification, Maniapoto disputed what Luxon had said and unabashedly became a spokesperson for the government:

“No, we’re not. That’s misinformation,” she said.

And:

“You want the one system that you suggest will work for everybody. In the last 40 years, there have been massive attempts to address inequities within the health system,” Maniapoto said.

“Everybody, all the experts – the Heather Simpson report, the Māori health advisory group, all the NGOs that wrote to you and David Seymour last weekthe Waitangi Tribunal with its interim recommendation – they all say that we need an independent Māori authority that will work in a certain way. Why do you not trust expert advice?”

Luxon replied: “I think we’ll create a massive amount of bureaucracy.”

The Newshub report was written by Zane Small, described as a “digital political reporter” for Newshub based in the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

He explains that the Māori Health Authority will commission kaupapa Māori services and work alongside Health NZ to develop system plans and commissions for primary and community services.

He does not delve into the question of which authority will get what portion of the health budget or how their claims for bigger budgets will be resolved if money is tight.

He does acknowledge that a Māori Health Authority was recommended in the controversial He Puapua document, “a think-piece report” commissioned by the Government in 2019 that sets out a roadmap to co-governance between the Crown and Māori by 2040.

Māori have been consulted on what should be done with the He Puapua agenda. Wider public consultation will begin later this year.

Let’s get back to Maniapoto, who told Luxon in the interview – sorry, heated debate:

“You’re not helping with that conversation. You’re using words like separatism.”

He replied: “I’m not.”

Small’s report points out that Luxon’s predecessor, Judith Collins, did talk of “separatism”.

He recalls her accusing the Government of “separatism by stealth” for introducing the Māori Health Authority and scrapping the ability for Māori wards to be overturned by a local poll.

But the point of this recollection is open to question, because any notion that Luxon should be bound by everything Collins said while she was National’s leader is absurd.

Moreover, Newshub goes on to report:

“I’m up for that conversation. That’s why I’m here with you today. I’m coming on your show because you want to discuss these issues,” Luxon told Maniapoto. 

“I’ve given you a different perspective. I appreciate it’s not your perspective but I’m putting forward what I think and what we think.”

Then Luxon said the Government needs to be clear about its co-governance intentions. 

“I don’t think the Government is being very clear about co-governance and I think if you went outside on the street and asked an everyday New Zealander: what is co-governance? They’d be unable to explain it.”

Luxon’s suggestion was to focus on former Prime Minister and National leader Bill English’s ‘social investment model‘, “targeting support on the basis of need”.

“A good example for me would be the COVID story. Initially, the Government said we’ll just run everything centrally from Wellington and it wasn’t until they engaged with Chinese communities with language issues to get vaccination rates up – the same happened with Māori/Pasifika – that we were able to use local community organisations to get to those communities.”

As for Luxon’s “misinformation” – well, according to dictionary.com,

Misinformation is “false information that is spread, regardless of intent to mislead.” Put a flag in the second half of this definition…

For example,

“… say a party starts at 8pm, but you forget or misread the invitation and tell your friends it starts at 9pm, you are supplying them with misinformation. But don’t fear: we’re not calling the fact police on you! The key, here, is that you unwittingly spread false information around; you didn’t mean to, or even might have thought the information was true.”

“Misinformation doesn’t care about intent, and so is simply a term for any kind of wrong or false information.”

On the other hand:

“Disinformation means ‘false information, as about a country’s military strength or plans, disseminated by a government or intelligence agency in a hostile act of tactical political subversion.’ It is also used more generally to mean ‘deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda’.

“So, disinformation is knowingly spreading misinformation. Our first definition of this word gives one major reason why a person or group might want to spread wrong information, but there are many other nefarious motivations lurking behind the creation of disinformation.”

In the case of Labour’s health reforms, Luxon is predicting they will result in a burgeoning bureaucracy.

The government is in the predicting caper, too, by insisting our wellbeing will be improved by its restructuring of the health sector.

We won’t know who is right – Labour, Luxon or his bellicose interviewer – for some time.