Porirua’s Mayor Tana should take a lesson from Sir Tim about the electoral importance of “heart”

Down south, Invercargill  mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt this month demonstrated the political nous that explains why is the country’s longest-serving mayor.

He exercised his casting vote to side with the employers of disabled workers, contrary to an advisory group’s recommendation that another preferred tenderer be hired for a recycling contract.

Southland disAbility Enterprises has held the contract for the past eight years but it is due to finish at the end of this month.

According to the Otago Daily Times, Cr Toni Biddle asked for the tender debate to be made in public, while excluding financial and commercial information, which would be received in committee before the debate.

That vote was split 5-5, requiring Sir Tim to use his casting vote.

”I think you should vote with your heart,” he said, voting in favour of the motion.

After concern was raised about the potential consequences of releasing commercially sensitive information to the public, another motion was passed that only the final vote would be made public.

That vote, which was made in public after two and a-half hours of public-excluded debate, again came down to a split decision.

Sir Tim said, as chairman, he could vote twice in such circumstances, and voted against the recommendation for a preferred tenderer, put forward to the council by the Waste Advisory Group. Continue reading “Porirua’s Mayor Tana should take a lesson from Sir Tim about the electoral importance of “heart””

There’s much more to the govt’s Defence Capability Plan than the $1bn purchase of C-130J Hercules


Defence Minister Ron Mark has fleshed out more details from the Defence Capability Plan.   These include the government’s approval of spending $56.8m on the Operational and Regulatory Aviation Compliance project from within internal departmental depreciation funding.

This will ensure military aircraft comply with civil and military air traffic management and identification systems, which are necessary to abide by domestic and global regulatory safety and security requirements.

It aligns with the Civil Aviation Authority NZ’s New Southern Sky programme, which will provide new airspace management and air navigation technologies by introducing new standards.  These follow global demands to realise the safety, environmental, social and economic potential of better airspace management.

A project to deliver an Enhanced Maritime Awareness Capability is also under way. Mark says this complementary capability will consider smaller manned aircraft, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) or satellites, for additional maritime surveillance tasks in NZ’s Exclusive Economic Zone and the wider region.  This will free up the P-8As to fly more missions, in the South Pacific and further afield.

Defence is working with more than 20 agencies to identify cost effective recommendations including Police, Customs, Biosecurity New Zealand, DOC and Fisheries.  The government expects to consider initial options later this year. Continue reading “There’s much more to the govt’s Defence Capability Plan than the $1bn purchase of C-130J Hercules”

Hawke’s Bay gets a $68.3 million fillip from the PGF – and there’s more to come

The latest handouts from the Provincial Growth Fund were announced today as “a suite” of investments comprising transport infrastructure, digital connectivity, water storage, and skills and employment in the Hawke’s Bay region.

Suite? Or sweets?

This has been a lolly scramble.

Some of the $68.3 million is racially tagged with handouts from the PGF’s Whenua Māori programme.

The Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, today issued four separate press statements.

Environment Minister David Parker got in on the act with one of the announcements to deliver an assurance about investments in two water storage initiatives, an aquifer mapping project, and a region-wide water assessment project “to better understand the region’s wider water needs”.

These projects are unlike the highly controversial Ruataniwha scheme, he said – they will assist the conversion of livestock farms to horticulture.

But wait – there’s more.  Further investments in industry-led activities in the Hawke’s Bay region will be announced in the coming months. Continue reading “Hawke’s Bay gets a $68.3 million fillip from the PGF – and there’s more to come”

Polls apart – but what are we to make of political surveys when the results are so divergent?

What  to  make of the latest   opinion  polls?   Because they diverge  so far  from  each   other,  experts   say  one   must be  wrong.

Perhaps some of those pollsters who got the mood of the  Australian  electorate so  badly  out of kilter with the actual election  result have been  imported to  carry out   one or  other of  the two samples.    Or, maybe,  because  the polling  done  by  each organisation covered   different   periods, there  was  a  dramatic revision  in the political mood almost  overnight.

Even given the divergence, the pundits were virtually unanimous:  Simon Bridges  is  gone—if not  by  lunchtime,  then some time soon.

That’s, of course, what they said at  the time  of  the  last set  of  polls.

National’s leadership preoccupies these  commentators much more than the actual performance of the  government. Continue reading “Polls apart – but what are we to make of political surveys when the results are so divergent?”

If you aspire to a place on the Honours List, we suggest you eschew science and take up sport

The Queen’s Birthday Honours list further attests to our having a government that has a greater regard for sport than for science.  Or does this reflect a societal indifference to science and scientists?

One measure of this is a press statement released by  Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation.

She has congratulated Professor Charles Eason on his appointment to the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

There are no other scientists to congratulate.

Professor Eason is an accomplished scientist, currently the Chief Executive of the Cawthron Institute.

“In 2017 he was awarded the Thomson Medal by Royal Society Te Apārangi for outstanding leadership in his research career and for his achievements as head of the Cawthron Institute,” Megan Woods said.

“Professor Eason’s science speciality is toxicology, particularly in relation to drugs and natural compounds. He has recently been involved in the development of new drugs derived from marine algae with European pharmaceutical companies.  Continue reading “If you aspire to a place on the Honours List, we suggest you eschew science and take up sport”

Replacing neoliberal economics – the ideas of Joseph Stiglitz perhaps influenced authors of the Wellbeing Budget

A view of economics that might well be reflected in Grant Robertson’s Wellbeing Budget was expressed by American Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz last month in an article headed The Economy We Need.

After 40 years of market fundamentalism, he wrote, America and like-minded European countries are failing the vast majority of their citizens.

“At this point, only a new social contract – guaranteeing citizens health care, education, retirement security, affordable housing, and decent work for decent pay – can save capitalism and liberal democracy.”

Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University and chief economist at the Roosevelt Institute, is the author, most recently, of People, Power, and Profits: Progressive Capitalism for an Age of Discontent.

He has elaborated on his early-May article in After Neoliberalism in which he contends:

“For the past 40 years, the United States and other advanced economies have been pursuing a free-market agenda of low taxes, deregulation, and cuts to social programs. There can no longer be any doubt that this approach has failed spectacularly; the only question is what will – and should – come next.” Continue reading “Replacing neoliberal economics – the ideas of Joseph Stiglitz perhaps influenced authors of the Wellbeing Budget”

Taxpayers Union frets at social spending – but look who is in the queue to complain about being short-changed

The Taxpayers Union was unlikely to see much merit in the Wellbeing Budget and has issued a bundle of statements to complain –

  • The Government’s ‘wellbeing’ focus is just an excuse for billions of dollars of poorly-targeted spending (here),
  • Between 2018 and 2021, social security and welfare spending is expected to sky-rocket from $26 billion to $32.4 billion a year, a 25 percent increase in just three years. (here).  “Fiscal discipline has been jettisoned in favour of a classic Labour welfare spend-up.”
  • Pouring another billion dollars into KiwiRail shows terrible business acumen (here).  “As a State Owned Enterprise, KiwiRail is required to be as profitable as possible, yet it has never paid a single cent in dividends to the Government – despite receiving more than $5 billion of Government funding since 2008. Pouring an additional billion dollars into KiwiRail will not change reality – KiwiRail will never be a profitable company.”
  • Race-based spending initiatives announced in the Wellbeing-Budget (such as an extra $80 million for Whanau Ora) will lead to wasteful and unfair outcomes (here).  Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says many Maori and Pasifika spending initiatives are either vague or over-ambitious. For example, “why is the Government spending taxpayer money to ‘strengthen personal identity and connection to the community’? Is it even capable of achieving that?”
  • With business investment growth expected to fall from 6.8 percent in 2018 to 0.7 percent in 2019, the Government needs to reconsider its economic strategy (here). “Tax cuts for businesses and individuals would be a great start.”

But The Maori Council’s disappointment that Maori have been short-changed can be found in their post-Budget statement, headed Government has failed Maori across the board.

Continue reading “Taxpayers Union frets at social spending – but look who is in the queue to complain about being short-changed”