Plenty of numbers amplify the Beehive’s braying but farmers find fault with EU trade deal and RBNZ appointments are challenged

Buzz from the Beehive

Numbers, quotas and ratios have been high in ministerial considerations over the past 24 hours or so.

Export revenue to the EU will grow by up to $1.8 billion annually on full implementation of the trade deal being ballyhooed by the PM and her Trade Minister.

More than 57,000 light-electric and Non Plug-in Hybrid vehicles were registered in the first year of operation of the Government’s Clean Car Discount Scheme, the most on record, Transport Minister Michael Wood brayed.

Seventy new constables heading for the frontline after Police wing 355 graduated in Porirua brought the total number of new officers since Labour took office to 3,303, Police Minister Chris Hipkins boasted.

A number – or quota – that seems to have been important  to Finance Minister Grant Robertson is not immediately apparent.  But a cursory reading of the CVs of his new appointments to the board of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand suggests he was aiming for co-governance – or a balance of Maori-non-Maori directors. Three of the seven appointees have tribal affiliations.  A fourth is a director on the Ngai Tahu board.

There are many numbers in the press statement from the PM and her Trade Minister on the free trade agreement  with the EU.  Among them:

  • Export revenue to the EU to grow by up to $1.8 billion annually on full implementation.
  • Duty-free access on 97% of New Zealand’s current exports to the EU; with over 91% being removed the day the FTA comes into force.
  • NZ exporters set to save approx. $110 million per annum on tariff elimination, with $100 million slashed from day one.
  • New quota opportunities worth over $600m in annual export revenue for dairy and red meat sector once fully implemented, with an eight-fold increase in beef access to the EU market.

 “It’s a strategically important and economically beneficial deal that comes at a crucial time in our export led COVID-19 recovery,” the PM said.

But farm leaders have expressed their disappointment, if not dismay, some saying it would have been better to have no deal at all.

Jane Kelsey, Professor Emeritus of law at the University of Auckland, is critical, too. She has posted an opinion piece which asks:

“When will governments and trade negotiators realise they have more credibility if they tell the truth about free trade agreements (FTA) like the new deal with the European Union (EU), instead of their fancifully positive spin.”

Kelsey points out there is much more at stake than just agriculture, with several chapters of the agreement seeming to impose greater restrictions on New Zealand laws and how the government can regulate than the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

“How far that’s the case we can’t tell without access to the text, which only the governments have.”

The headline on Chris Hipkins’ statement about the latest bunch of police graduates highlights his race-mix and gender-mix priorities:  Police Wing 355 includes the highest ever proportion of Wāhine Māori

 The text says:

“This graduating wing – Wing 355 – has the highest proportion ever of wāhine Māori in a wing, with 24 wāhine.

“Wāhine Māori are under-represented in the constabulary workforce and Police have a recruitment focus on lifting their numbers.

“Police is aiming to match its workforce demographics to population demographics, and after today Wāhine Māori will be approximately 3.9 per cent of the constabulary workforce.

“This is nearly double the number at the start of the 1,800 investment in 2017 and about half way to matching the wider population.”

This accomplishment follows another recent milestone of one in four Police officers – a quarter of our Police – being women.

“It represents a near-50 per cent increase over the past five years and equates to more than 800 additional women working on the frontline than there was five years ago.

“The previous growth of 800 women in police took 22 years, so this represents a significant step towards achieving a more representative workforce that better reflects the communities police serve. That can only be a good thing.”

What about Asians, who comprise around 15 per cent of the population?

Oh dear.  They were not mentioned (although they have been recruited in encouraging numbers in recent years).

Nor are there any Asians on the RBNZ board announced by Grant Robertson.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 2021 comes into force today and the new statutory governance board includes members appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the government.

It includes the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Adrian Orr.

Robertson said:

“I have worked through with the transitional Board to understand the range of skills needed to fulfil the mandate of the new Board. People with both the intellectual capacity to engage with the very challenging issues, and the background of experience and perspective to be able to bring common sense, political awareness and a strong understanding of New Zealand’s economy and society to the table.

“We have also sought to get a mix of backgrounds and experience to give a wide range of perspectives.  Members not only have knowledge of the New Zealand and global economy, but also experience of managing people and culture, and digital change.”

Robertson said two highly experienced members of the previous Board have been retained, current Chair, Professor Neil Quigley and Susan Paterson.

Rodger Finlay, who has been providing assistance with the transition to the new structure over recent months, has also been appointed to the new Board. He previously chaired NZ Post Ltd and PGG Wrightson and is a director of Ngāi Tahu Holdings Ltd.  

Other appointees are Byron Pepper, Professor Rawinia Higgins, Jeremy Banks and Hinerangi Raumati-Tu’ua.

Brief biographies are included with the press statement.

Former RBNZ economist Michael Reddell, on his blog Croaking Cassandra, is not impressed:

“For the most part I am not suggesting that as individuals are unsuited to being on a mixed Board (although Higgins appears utterly unqualified, and Pepper questionable on ethical grounds), but what you end up with is a Board that is deeply unimpressive and really unfit for anything like the role the legislation envisages for the Board of the Reserve Bank.

“There is no one with any real expertise or authority in banking, no one with any real expertise on financial regulatory matters, no one who really seems fit (or ready) to be holding the MPC to account or making good choices about who should go on the MPC in future. And perhaps a little surprisingly given the limited pool of expertise locally and the risks of too inward looking an approach, there is no one from abroad.

“As a group – however nice, and perhaps able they each are in their own fields – they simply aren’t up to what the job should entail, and that against the background on an inexperienced and underqualified senior management team. One can only imagine the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority people reading of these appointments with some mix of despair and bewilderment while – condescendingly, but as they are prone to – suggesting that fortunately it doesn’t matter too much as APRA does the prudential supervision that really counts for New Zealand…”

Latest from the Beehive

1 JULY 2022

Joint media release on the occasion of the meeting between European Commission President von der Leyen and New Zealand’s Prime Minister Ardern, 30 June 2022, Brussels

European Commission President von der Leyen and Prime Minister of New Zealand Ardern met in Brussels on 30 June 2022.

New Zealand secures major free trade deal with European Union

  • Export revenue to the EU to grow by up to $1.8 billion annually on full implementation.

30 JUNE 2022

Biggest Year for Clean Cars on Record

The Government’s Clean Car Discount Scheme has been a success, with more than 57,000 light-electric and Non-Plug-in Hybrid vehicles registered in its first year of operation, the most on record.

Police Wing 355 includes the highest ever proportion of Wāhine Māori

Police Minister Chris Hipkins congratulates the newest Police wing – wing 355 – which graduated today in Porirua.

New RBNZ board takes up role from 1 July

Members with a range of governance, financial and technical skills have been appointed to the Reserve Bank Board as part of the shift to strengthen the Bank’s decision-making and accountability arrangements.

New measures to help manage COVID-19 as country stays at Orange

The Government is taking action to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools and early childhood services.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.