A shot in the arm for the province of Southland came this week with the news that the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter will not shut down in 2024 — and could have a long term future.
Since the global giant Rio Tinto renegotiated the last electricity contract, extending the life of the smelter for three years from 2021, the price of aluminium soared as high as $US3800 a tonne, and although it has retreated from those levels, it is still high at around $US2400.
And because the aluminium produced at Tiwai Point is among the purest in the world, it is not surprising that Rio Tinto, and its Japanese partner, Sumitomo, want to continue production.
Covid-19 was never going to be kind to the country’s education sector, especially when our school children were already sliding down the OECD rankings for literacy, maths and science and there was a lack of equity in terms of at-home and online learning.
But it’s hard to look at the sector and not conclude there has been a colossal failure.
School attendance rates for term 1 fell below 50%.
The polytechnic mega merger is said to be unravelling at pace.
The leaders of 10 regional principals’ associations say schools are at or near breaking point because of the stress of staff and student absences. They have implored the government to reveal as soon as possible how it would help teens pass NCEA this year.
A week ago Point of Order noted how James Shaw was fending off challenges, first from his political opponents on his climate change policies, and then against his co-leadership of the Green Party. He emerged unscathed from the first but then lost his co-leadership.
Yet beneath that quiet exterior lurks a man with intent.
He truly believes in what he is doing in shaping the country’s climate-change policy, and he is not blinking in the face of the challenge from within the party that he is not doing enough to stave off back the climatic apocalypse.
Radio NZ’sMorning Report today reported he will contest the Green Party’s co-leadership after being ousted from the role.
“I’m not done,” he told the programme.
Shaw made the announcement after failing to get the 75% of delegates’ votes he needed at the party’s online annual meeting at the weekend (a formidably high threshold) to be reconfirmed in the role.
The government’s immigration policies have come under heavy fire in recent weeks, even though the shortages of key workers — nurses for example — have become acute.
One response to the critics – included among the latest Beehive announcements – is something the government is calling its “Immigration Rebalance strategy”. But one flaw quickly becomes obvious.
More of that later.
For now, let’s note that the Immigration Rebalance strategy is vying for media attention, analysis and debate along with
The latest ministerial bragging about benefits continuing to fall;
A message to the biggest polluters that they will have to do more to help meet climate targets because of changes the government is making to decade-old settings (these settings “have allocated far too many free climate pollution credits to New Zealand’s largest emitters”, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said);
The launch of the country’s first nationwide tsunami evacuation map (perhaps to heighten our anxieties as we increasingly observe the impacts of climate change around the world);
The provision of $179m of government funding to seven centres around the country for groundwork infrastructure such as pipes and roads that will enable over 8,000 new homes to be built;
A speech from the PM to the Local Government New Zealand conference (our team is struggling to find nuggets of hard news in the contents).
Green Party co-leader James Shaw is fending off challenges, first in his role as Climate Change Minister and then in his role at the head of his party.
At a hearing of Parliament’s Environment Select Committee this week he faced attacks from National and Act MPs on his climate change policies. Meanwhile the party faithful will meet in Christchurch this weekend, with some members of the youth arm planning to force a vote on his leadership.
Here’s a political conundrum: why aren’t Opposition parties doing better in the opinion polls?
National’s leadership has settled in, and it’s fair to say support for the Nats has increased since Christopher Luxon replaced Judith Collins. But the gains have been at the expense of ACT.
And together, the two parties are not polling well enough to form a government on their own.
It will be worth watching to see if ACT does better after holding an upbeat conference last weekend, oozing confidence levels which party leader David Seymour might not have recognised just five or so years ago.
But meanwhile it might take only the suggestion of a success or two for the government to turn around the slump in its fortunes.
Emerging from its annual conference, the ACT Party’s leadership appears to regard itself already as a key element in the next government.
ACT leader David Seymour had the conference cheering as he spoke of how ACT would ensure in the first hundred days of the next government, Labour’s measures on Three Waters, the Māori Health Authority, the 39c tax rate, and Fair Pay Agreements would all be gone, just as ACT’s policies on 90-day trials, three strikes, oil and gas exploration and charter schools would be reinstated.
No surprises there.
But ACT will need far more than this if it is to win over the thousands of additional votes to make certain it does have a powerful voice, rather than being just a prop for National. It will need Cabinet ministers in influential roles.
Most of the issues highlighted by Seymour are likely to get National’s support or are changes which National already has said it will enact. He admits getting them to repeal the Zero Carbon Act will be harder.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, enjoying her global celebrity status in Australia, has also succeeded in clawing back her poll ratings in New Zealand. According to the Roy Morgan poll, Labour has risen a couple of points to 33.5% while National has edged back a point to 39% since May.
On the Roy Morgan sampling, the Maori Party would hold the balance of power. Given the apparent distaste of that party’s two members in Parliament for parties of the Right, this could ensure Labour has another term .
Ardern brushed off a question on the ABC about her global celebrity status, saying her total focus was at home.
Competition for raw milk supplies has sharpened as Synlait Milk has joined Fonterra with a milk price forecast for the new dairy season at $9.50kg/MS.
Earlier the company had announced a milk price for the 2022-23 season at $9kg/MS, but the outlook has got even better since then, with foreign exchange movements further supporting a strong milk price.
The upgraded price is a record for the company.
Synlait CEO Grant Watson says the forecasted lift in milk price reflects an improved outlook for 2022/23 dairy commodity prices, following the recent recovery in pricing, and the current strength of the US dollar.
“Over the next two days we’ll be meeting with our farmers at annual events in the Waikato and Canterbury and it will be great to share this news with them.”
There was no change to its forecast milk price for the 2021/2022 dairy season, which remains at $9.30 kg/MS.