Omicron threat prompts the PM to resurrect her pitch for togetherness and appeal to the Team of Five Million

An update on the government’s response to the Tongan disaster and news about its response to the spread of  Omicron have dominated the flow – or rather, the trickle – of Beehive announcements since our previous report on what our ministers are doing.

New Zealand is giving an additional $2 million in humanitarian funding for Tonga as the country recovers from a volcanic eruption and tsunami last weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said on Friday (they haven’t reported on developments since then).

That brought New Zealand’s contribution to $3 million.

But the announcement with a much more profound impact on the wellbeing of many more people – much closer to home, too – came from the PM.

The headline, New Zealand to move to Red from 11.59pm today, was not a reference to the state of the government’s finances (they look likely to go much deeper into the red).

No, the PM was saying all of New Zealand would move to the Red setting of the Covid Protection Framework (CPF) at 11:59pm last night “because Omicron is potentially now transmitting in the community”. Continue reading “Omicron threat prompts the PM to resurrect her pitch for togetherness and appeal to the Team of Five Million”

The PM is promising “progress” and Sepuloni is reporting it on the welfare front – but doubts are raised by her benefits data

The PM’s first speech of the year, delivered to Labour MPs in New Plymouth at their annual caucus retreat, largely focused on Covid-19 and the Omicron variant, according to RNZ.

Jacinda Ardern insisted the government has and is continuing to prepare for an Omicron outbreak in the community.

“But it will not be without its challenges, though, we are facing a trickier enemy given it keeps evolving.”

Despite the challenges thrown up by the pandemic, Ardern said, the government must continue to make progress in other areas.

Does this include progress in dismantling our democratic structures in favour of so-called Treaty-based and provocatively race-based co-governance arrangements?

Perhaps, but RNZ said:  Continue reading “The PM is promising “progress” and Sepuloni is reporting it on the welfare front – but doubts are raised by her benefits data”

Record payout for dairy farmers is in the offing – but climate change policy pressure sours the outlook

Behind   all  the  Covid headlines  lurked a  positive  story this week.

Prices at the Fonterra Global Dairy Auction leapt 4.6% to hit an eight-year-high, as tight milk supply stokes demand for NZ’s biggest export commodity.

Almost  certainly Fonterra’s  farmer-shareholders  will receive a  record  payout this  season, and, with  a bit  of  luck, this  could  be  high enough  to end up  ahead  of  rising  costs.

And  even  though  local  consumers  may find themselves paying more  for  their milk, butter  and  cheese, the  country  benefits  from dairy  products boosting  export returns.  Some   economists  are  predicting   Fonterra’s total  payout to  its producers  will  top  $14bn   this  season.

At the  auction,the average price for whole milk powder, which has the most impact on what farmers are paid, posted the biggest gain, up 5.6%  cent to US$4082 (NZ$6041) a tonne, and is now 21% higher than at the same time last year.

Among  other products:

  • SMP up +5% to US$3,963 or NZ$5778
  • Butter up +5% to US$6,158 or NZ$8,978
  • Cheddar up +1.1% to US$5,546 or NZ$8,086 (all per metric tonne)

Continue reading “Record payout for dairy farmers is in the offing – but climate change policy pressure sours the outlook”

Pedants at PoO say “cobblers” to reports about world’s oldest man

The pedants among the scribes at Point of Order (who shall go unnamed) swooped on a headline in the Dominion-Post this week.

In its print edition, the newspaper had published a brief report under the heading “World’s oldest man dies”.

Newshub was a bit more expansive, reporting the news under the headline “World’s oldest man dies aged 112”

But in its first sentence, Newshub gave us cause to question the accuracy of the headline:

A Spaniard believed to be the world’s oldest man has died at the age of 112. 

The Dominion-Post tempered its report, too, saying de la Fuente was “described  by Guinness World Records as the world’s oldest man” and “Guinness World Records dubbed him the world’s oldest man” last September.

Newshub proceeded to tell us:

Saturnino de la Fuente died at his home in León in northwest Spain on Tuesday, Guinness World Records confirmed. 

And then:

De la Fuente was crowned as the oldest living man by Guinness World Records in September 2021. He was born on February 11, 1909 in the Puente Castro neighbourhood of León.

A cobbler by trade, he started his career working in a shoe factory at 13 years old. 

Plainly, the Guinness World Records has played a critical role in telling us what we know about de la Fuente.  It bestowed the oldest-man-in-the-world title on him last September and this week it  confirmed his death.

The media obviously regard Guinness World Records as more authoritative on de la Fuente’s condition than the doctor who signed the death certificate or the funeral director who handled the funeral arrangements .

But if the Stuff team had dipped into their files, they might have uncovered an item headed Was world’s oldest person ever a fraud? 

Jeanne Calment, a woman from Arles in southern France, had gained international fame when she was recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest living person ever.

But a new study has cast doubt on her claim and has come up with a bizarre theory. “Jeanne” was, in fact, her daughter Yvonne, who was just 99 at the time of her death.

Gerontologist Valery Novoselov claims Jeanne actually died in 1934 and that Yvonne took over her identity so she didn’t have to pay inheritance tax.

As for the world’s oldest man, at Point of Order we are adamant he can’t be dead, because the moment he dies someone else will become the world’s oldest man.  It remains for Guinness World Records to identify him for the benefit of media hacks whose readers will be bursting to know.  

 

Yes, Ngai Tahu could campaign for votes to win council seats – but why bother, if privilege is granted to let it bypass the ballot box?

Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey, the highest-ranked South Island and Canterbury MP in National’s recently reorganised caucus, went out to open the batting for democracy in the debate triggered by the introduction of the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill.

He expressed the Nats’ opposition to the legislative entrenchment of a governance arrangement which the council (also known as Environment Canterbury, or ECan) and Ngai Tahu have recognised as “a privilege”.

But Doocey was on sticky wicket, his task complicated by the council’s recent history and by the Nats’ role in the introduction of this privilege.

It was a National-led government which,in 2010, sacked all elected members of the council and replaced them with appointed commissioners.

A few years later, to ease the path to restoring a democratically elected council in 2019, the National-led government came up with a mix of elected and appointed council members, including two Ngai Tahu appointees.

After democracy was restored, the council and Ngai Tahu wanted to keep the Ngai Tahu appointees – and they were keen to stay on.

A joint council-Ngai press statement in October 2020 explained what happened. Continue reading “Yes, Ngai Tahu could campaign for votes to win council seats – but why bother, if privilege is granted to let it bypass the ballot box?”

Tonga update: Hercules takes off with aid supplies

No announcements had been posted on The Beehive website, when Point of Order  checked just before noon on what our ministers have been doing (a) in response to Tonga’s need for humanitarian relief and (b) in response to anything else.

But a fresh announcement has been posted since then in the names of Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare under the heading RNZAF C-130 Hercules flight departs for Tonga as Navy vessels draw nearer to Tongatapu

It says a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules has departed Base Auckland Whenuapai for Tonga carrying aid supplies, as the New Zealand aid effort ramps up.

“The aircraft is carrying humanitarian aid and disaster relief supplies, including water containers, kits for temporary shelters, generators, hygiene and family kits, and communications equipment,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

“The delivery of supplies will be contactless and the aircraft is expected to be on the ground for up to 90 minutes before returning to New Zealand,” Peeni Henare said.

The aircraft is due to arrive in Tonga at approximately 4pm NZ time.

No aircraft could land before now because the runway had to be cleared of volcanic ash. The New Zealand response to the developing situation in Tonga is well under way and the offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington is expected to arrive in Tonga later today. It is carrying hydrographic and dive personnel and also has a Seasprite helicopter to assist with supply delivery.

The Wellington’s first task will be to check shipping channels and wharf approaches to Tonga’s port to ensure vessels can go alongside, and check the structural integrity of the wharf, Peeni Henare said.

Meanwhile, the maritime sustainment vessel HMNZS Aotearoa has bulk water supplies on board, as well as other supplies, and is expected to arrive in Tonga tomorrow.

Water is among the highest priorities for Tonga, and the Aotearoa can carry 250,000 litres, and produce 70,000 litres per day through a desalination plant, Nanaia Mahuta said.

New Zealand is standing by to offer further assistance.

“We are talking to Tonga about what more they need from us and we can assure them of our ongoing support,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

“We are also preparing to deploy HMNZS Canterbury, with two NH90 helicopters on board, which is planning to leave on Saturday,” Peeni Henare said.

Tonga is currently free of COVID and operates strict border controls to keep COVID-19 out.

Communications with Tonga remain limited. Some 2G connectivity has been restored for telecommunications provider Digicel customers. However, demand is exceeding capacity and connection inconsistent. With just a portion of calls being connected, people are asked to be patient. Work is under way to add more capacity.

Before receiving this announcement, Point of Order had turned to RNZ where we learned that a World Health Organisation representative in Tonga says the international airport has been cleared of volcanic ash which will allow humanitarian aid flights to arrive.

WHO liaison officer in Tonga Dr Yutaro Setoya, who is in Nuku’alofa on the main island Tongatapu, told RNZ’s Pacific reporter Eleisha Foon there had been a thick layer of ash on the runway preventing planes from landing.

“The runway, I understand, was cleared to be able to be used from outside [the country]. I understand humanitarian flights are coming in,” Setoya told RNZ by satellite phone.

One of Tonga’s main communications providers, Digicel, said it had restored international calls to Tonga via satellite but until the undersea communications cable is restored its network services will not be fully operational.

Latest from the Beehive

RNZAF C-130 Hercules flight departs for Tonga as Navy vessels draw nearer to Tongatapu

A Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules has departed Base Auckland Whenuapai for Tonga carrying aid supplies, as the New Zealand aid effort ramps up.

Ngai Tahu man in Parliament champions Bill to bypass the ballot box for council seats (and says it’s not a special privilege)

Rino Tirikatane, Labour MP for the Maori seat of Te Tai Tonga, had the job – just before Christmas – of championing a retreat from democracy in his home patch by moving that the Canterbury Regional Council (Ngāi Tahu Representation) Bill be read a first time in Parliament.  

He did so without a blush, arguing that the bill

“… reinstates mana whenua representation on the Canterbury Regional Council in the form of two Ngāi Tahu councillors from the 2022 local body elections”.

Yep.  It aims to reinstate councillors appointed by tribal leaders and cocoon them from voters who might have their own ideas about who should best represent them. 

But let’s not forget the tribe has extensive business interests and the potential for conflicts of interest arises, as Malcolm Harbrow has highlighted on his No Right Turn blog.

Allowing Ngai Tahu to directly appoint two members to the Canterbury Regional Council, he insisted,

“… is both undemocratic – they should be elected, not appointed – and creates serious conflict of interest problems. We’d be horrified at the thought of Fonterra being allowed to appoint members to a council responsible for setting policy around water and pollution, but Ngāi Tahu’s dairy investments and ongoing conversions put it in the same boat.”

Hobson’s Pledge made the same point. 

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu appointees are appointed to represent the interests of Ngai Tahu members but the runanga is the governance organisation of a billion-dollar (charitable) enterprise, holding farming, forestry and aquaculture interests, commerical and residential buildings as well as other businesses such as Go Bus (2/3 owned by Ngai Tahu) which are regulated by the regional council. Continue reading “Ngai Tahu man in Parliament champions Bill to bypass the ballot box for council seats (and says it’s not a special privilege)”

How NZ is responding to Tonga’s call for help …

 Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta issued a press release on Sunday headed “Aotearoa New Zealand stands ready to assist people of Tonga”.

Yesterday she and Defence Minister Peeni Henare issued fresh news headed “New Zealand prepared to send support to Tonga”.

We shall report on the update today, as soon as we receive it.

Latest from the Beehive

Release

18 JANUARY 2022

New Zealand prepared to send support to Tonga

New Zealand is ready to assist Tonga in its recovery from Saturday night’s undersea eruption and tsunami, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Defence Minister Peeni Henare said today.

 Release

16 JANUARY 2022

Aotearoa New Zealand stands ready to assist people of Tonga

The thoughts of New Zealanders are with the people of Tonga following yesterday’s undersea volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami waves, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta says.

Direct democracy is not the same as direct representation (a privilege intended for Ngai Tahu on Canterbury Regional Council)

The case for entitling Ngai Tahu leaders to appoint two representatives to the Canterbury Regional Council prompted your Point of Order team to check out the differences between representative and direct democracies.

Explaining why it has rejected a ballot-box procedure to decide two places at its table, the council contends it is “reinstating direct Ngāi Tahu representation”.

Is the council confused (we wondered) about the differences between direct and representative democracies?

Whether a democracy is direct or representative, it is supposed to ensure power is exercised by “the people”.

A representative democracy is a system of government where citizens elect representatives to vote on laws on their behalf.

A direct democracy is one where citizens vote on every issue themselves.

The key difference between the two systems is who is voting on laws, elected officials or the citizens.

Ancient Athens was a true direct democracy, where every citizen with voting rights was required to vote on all issues. Continue reading “Direct democracy is not the same as direct representation (a privilege intended for Ngai Tahu on Canterbury Regional Council)”

Tamaki is a tad late with his “political prisoner” claim – but it isn’t too late for him to try martyrdom

Brian Tamaki’s grasp of New Zealand history does not match the magnitude of his chutzpah.

News media are reporting the Destiny Church leader has been taken into police custody and his group, the Freedom and Rights Coalition, has broadcast this on social media.

This puts a name to the Police announcement that a 63-year-old man was arrested in relation to a breach of bail conditions following an event in Christchurch earlier this month.

The police said the man was due to appear in the Auckland District Court via audio visual link later today.

According to RNZ:

Tamaki is facing charges of breaching Covid lockdown restrictions and a condition of bail was that he not attend further protests.

Tamaki and his wife Hannah earlier posted a separate video in which he said the police were coming to arrest him.

Was that a joyous hallelujah we heard ringing around the nation? Continue reading “Tamaki is a tad late with his “political prisoner” claim – but it isn’t too late for him to try martyrdom”