Oh dear – ECan has dug up a bad Bill (that was buried in 2019) to spare Ngai Tahu the bother of winning votes at the ballot box

Legislation to entrench Ngai Tahu representatives on Environment Canterbury – these would be  guaranteed appointments, to spare them the bother of pitching for popular support – failed to pass its first reading in Parliament in 2019.

On that occasion,  New Zealand First’s Shane Jones featured in scuttling a bill which would have entitled Ngai Tahu to appoint two representatives to sit with elected councillors after the local elections later that year.

It seemed that was the end of a bad Bill – but hey:  a few weeks ago the regional council announced it was again promoting a Bill that will provide “for mana whenua representation around the Council table”, by empowering Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu to appoint up to two members of the Council. This will be in addition to the elected members.

The aim – in other words – is not necessarily to bat for Maori generally.  It’s to guarantee two decision-making seats at the council table for “mana whenua”, or the local tribal elite. Continue reading “Oh dear – ECan has dug up a bad Bill (that was buried in 2019) to spare Ngai Tahu the bother of winning votes at the ballot box”

We can discuss waste management as one people – but consultation on indigenous rights is segregated (and iwi come first)

Latest from the Beehive –

The last item we recorded after monitoring the Beehive website yesterday was headed E whakarite ana Te Kāwanatanga i ngā tūāpapa mō tewhakamaumahara ki Te Petihana Reo Māori ka tū ā tērā tau.  The accompanying news dealt with a government decision to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the presentation of the Māori language petition and Māori Language Day as a major anniversary next year

“The Māori language petition, supported by 30,000 signatories, was presented to Parliament on the 14th September 1972 by representatives of Ngā Tamatoa, Victoria University’s Te Reo Māori Society and the NZ Māori Students Association. This is an important opportunity to pay further tribute to their hard mahi.”

This doesn’t mean the government approves so glowingly of all hard mihi that goes into gathering signatures for petitions.

Earlier this year it rammed into law the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill, which removes the right for a petition signed by five per cent of electors or more in a local authority area to trigger a binding poll on the introduction of Māori wards.

More changes that comprehensively change the country’s democratic constitutional and governance arrangements and the management of public services are in the offing. Continue reading “We can discuss waste management as one people – but consultation on indigenous rights is segregated (and iwi come first)”

A bit of a break for big business (via a quick testing deal) but the Nats are niggling about neglect of businesses that are struggling

While the government was bringing good news to  big business – a few of our biggest companies, anyway – National’s Small Business and Tourism spokesperson, Todd McClay, was out batting for small businesses.

The good news was that a “coalition of around 25 businesses across a range of sectors” has been granted an exemption by the Director-General of Health to import and use approved rapid antigen tests.  The number of businesses involved is curiously imprecise.

Radio NZ presumably asked for the names of the companies involved (they aren’t listed in the ministerial press statement) and more specifically reported that “a coalition of 25 firms” was involved, although this suggests it didn’t list them all in its online report:

Companies taking part in the trial: Mainfreight, Foodstuffs North Island, Genesis, Hynds Pipe Systems, Mercury, Summerset Group, Wellington Airport, Christchurch Airport, Sky NZ, Queenstown Airport, Spark, Vodafone, The Warehouse Group, ANZ Bank, Contact Energy, Fulton Hogan, Countdown/Woolworths NZ, Fletcher Building, Carter Holt Harvey, Meridian Energy, DHL Express NZ, Air NZ and Auckland Airport.

But let’s not quibble.  The aim is to quicken the pace of Covid-19 testing among the companies’ workers, no bad thing.

The chosen businesses have signed up to a charter with MBIE and the Ministry of Health, committing to work together and share insights to inform any wider roll-out of rapid antigen testing to other work sites.

Todd McClay’s concern, on the other hand, was that businesses all over the country are in “dire, dire trouble” as half the North Island remains in sustained Level 3 lockdowns. Continue reading “A bit of a break for big business (via a quick testing deal) but the Nats are niggling about neglect of businesses that are struggling”

Foodbanks get a boost as the govt continues to keep northern parts of NZ under Alert Level Three constraints

Uh, oh.  Chris Hipkins , the Minister in charge of the response to Covid-19, had nice things to say about the good people of Northland and the Waikato but the announcement that mattered was bad news.

His press statement declared:

“It’s … great to see Northlanders coming out to get vaccinated. There have been 19,691 vaccinations in the past seven days – that’s more than double the previous week.”

And:

“The Waikato has done a phenomenal job in getting tested and getting vaccinated…”

But you were right if you were expecting a “but” was on its way before Waikato people could celebrate that cheering observation:

“However, this morning we were informed of two new cases that are as yet unlinked to the existing cluster.”

Health authorities believe the risk from these two cases is low and there will be few locations of interest.  Great ….

“However we need to assure ourselves that there is not undetected transmission before lowering alert levels. Genome sequencing is underway and will hopefully shed new light on these cases.”

Moreover,

“…we still don’t have confidence we have a full enough picture of the situation in Northland.”

Thumb screws, water-boarding, stretching on the rack and other techniques for extracting information from people who don’t want to explain themselves or dob in their companions are not being made available to our authorities, apparently. Continue reading “Foodbanks get a boost as the govt continues to keep northern parts of NZ under Alert Level Three constraints”

Relaxed visa rules – a portent (perhaps) of importing teachers and health workers to replace those who eschew vaccination

The big moment came as we had hoped, roughly this time yesterday, and the PM delivered her news on Cabinet’s review of alert level settings in Auckland, Waikato and Northland.  Chris Hipkins, the Minister in charge of the response to Covid-19, then announced the Cabinet’s decisions to make vaccination mandatory for large parts of the education and health workforce.

The news from the PM was disappointing for Aucklanders.  Their level-3 Covid restrictions have been extended for another week and students will not return to class next Monday

Waikato and Northland became subject to tentative plans to be lowered to from level 3 – to level 2 – from 11.59pm on Thursday.

Then Hipkins announced a toughening of the vaccination regimen:

  • High-risk workers in the health and disability sector must be fully vaccinated by 1 December and receive their first dose by 30 October
  • School and early learning staff and support people who have contact with children and students to be fully vaccinated by 1 January, 2022, and receive their first dose by 15 November.

Continue reading “Relaxed visa rules – a portent (perhaps) of importing teachers and health workers to replace those who eschew vaccination”

It will be 4pm soon – and (here’s hoping) the press will have an opportunity to question the PM

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Cabinet is scheduled to meet today to assess alert level restrictions, with announcements to be made during a 4pm press conference.  We look forward to hearing from the PM at that time.

So, too, will National Party leader Judith Collins, who has been pressing the PM to “come out from the shadows” after several days of no-shows at previously daily press conferences.

Collins’ demand for the PM to front up to news media followed the release of the latest Covid-19 numbers, which suggested the outbreak was slowly spreading around the North Island (the news has been somewhat brighter today).  She said:

“New Zealanders will be unsettled by the news – delivered via written statement – that we have 60 new community cases today and yet our Prime Minister did not even get one of her senior ministers to stand in for her at the podium.” Continue reading “It will be 4pm soon – and (here’s hoping) the press will have an opportunity to question the PM”

Opposition MPs demand answers about Covid border breach – they seem coy, however, about Treaty-based local govt reform ideas

Trade Minister Damien O’Connor seems to be earning his keep on his overseas travels.  He and his Irish counterpart have just signed a statement to re-affirm the agricultural cooperation partnership between Ireland and New Zealand.

Among the consequences, and building on bilateral dialogues held late in September, Irish agricultural officials and officials from our Ministry for Primary Industries will develop a joint cooperation agenda around the central mission of Advancing a Progressive International Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture.

But much more media attention has been paid to the announcement from COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins on Northland’s move to Alert Level 3 restrictions

“… following recent information on the risk presented by the positive case initially tested in Whangarei earlier this week and confirmed in Auckland yesterday…”

That person is now in an Auckland Managed Isolation Quarantine facility.

“A public health investigation continues to identify close contacts and any potential locations of interest.”

But huge questions are being asked about how the unidentifed person was able to cross the border that is supposed to protect Northlanders from infectious Aucklanderss and Oppposition MPs are demanding more information Continue reading “Opposition MPs demand answers about Covid border breach – they seem coy, however, about Treaty-based local govt reform ideas”

Mahuta welcomes report which portends the local authority reforms (and Treaty partnerships) she seems keen to promote

The announcement we were expecting yesterday came later in the day, but not from the PM.  Rather, it came from Ayesha Verrall, Associate Minister of Health and Research, Science and Innovation, who said government and businesses are working together to pilot the use of rapid antigen testing in workplaces.

But readers who believe that all citizens in a democracy should have the same entitlements and voting rights and the same ability to hold to account the people who govern us should look beyond Covid to another threat.

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has welcomed the interim report on the Future for Local Government Review.

In her press statement, she says

“.. our system of local democracy and governance needs to evolve to be fit for the future.” 

You could say it has been fast evolving already (or eroding, perhaps) on Mahuta’s watch in the local government portfolio. She has been instrumental in

  • removing the rights of citizens to challenge electoral arrangements which displease them, such as the introduction of Maori wards by local council;  and
  • pushing on with the highly contentious Three Waters reforms, which include arrangements for Maori to become co-governors (unaccountable to the majority of citizens) of four new water-administering authorities.

Continue reading “Mahuta welcomes report which portends the local authority reforms (and Treaty partnerships) she seems keen to promote”

The govt has changed direction on Covid-19 – and today Ardern’s ministers are waltzing into global and transport issues

Just two weeks ago the prime minister was standing in the Beehive theatrette to tell the country the government was still aiming to return to zero cases.   This week she was promising a phased end to Covid restrictions in Auckland, under a three-step plan, which moves away from the current elimination strategy.    

She acknowledged the elimination strategy was coming to an end, saying it had served New Zealand well.

Since then, the PM has said Cabinet has agreed to the use of vaccine certificates in New Zealand as a tool in high-risk settings including large events and the government is consulting on their use in places like hospitality.

According to Stuff, Ardern today will announce plans to roll out Covid testing much more widely, on the strength of a report from Professor David Murdoch, of Otago University, who leads the Government’s testing advisory group.

Ardern is reported to have said his work will form the basis of “a new rigorous testing regime that will be central to our strategy to control the virus” over coming months. 

And about time, too, ACT leader David Seymour huffed: Continue reading “The govt has changed direction on Covid-19 – and today Ardern’s ministers are waltzing into global and transport issues”

More govt money for recreation, conservation and vaccination – too bad about the lift in interest rates

More than $17 million in government spending (by our count) was declared in two of the latest batch of ministerial announcements.  The costs involved in other announcements weren’t mentioned in the press statements.

Grant Robertson exchanged his Finance hat (a portfolio requiring him to maintain some sort of fiscal discipline) for his Sport and Recreation hat to announce the Government is providing $5.3 million to assist sport and recreation organisations in the Auckland region financially affected by the latest lockdown.

Compensation for government decisions to severely constrain economic activity in the Auckland region, in other words

We imagined Robertson would have been preoccupied with examining the ramifications of the Reserve Bank decision to raise the official cash rate to 0.5 per cent today.

His political opponents most certainly were making a noise about it.

National’s Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayly said the Government’s failure to rollout the vaccine and prepare our Covid defences had resulted in the Reserve Bank having to make this decision in the middle of lockdown, even though it is “incredibly risky for the economy”.

He said:

“Obviously, the Reserve Bank has seen that the cost of living is rising too quickly, and its hand has been forced. This has been exacerbated by huge amounts of wasteful, untargeted spending from the Government on matters entirely unrelated to the Covid response.”

Fair to say, Robertson’s handout of money was related to the Covid response.  Continue reading “More govt money for recreation, conservation and vaccination – too bad about the lift in interest rates”