THOMAS CRANMER: Questions remain over the appointment of Tuku Morgan

Many questions remain unanswered about the appointment of Tuku Morgan to his new Three Waters role, and the reforms are set to speed up once this Bill is passed into law.  THOMAS CRANMER writes – 

Four weeks after Tuku Morgan issued a press statement confirming that he had been appointed as chairperson of the entity A iwi representative group for Three Waters questions still remain as to the process for that appointment. It also remains unclear why it was considered appropriate to appoint Morgan to a role within entity A when he had represented entity B in working group discussions only months earlier.

As well as confirming his new role, Morgan’s statement included the following:

“While it is easy and convenient for Auckland Council and Watercare to keep increasing the water take from our awa tupuna to supply water to Taamaki Makaurau, it is not sustainable.”

Following the announcement I asked the Department of Internal Affairs for some details about Morgan’s appointment process. A spokesperson responded: Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Questions remain over the appointment of Tuku Morgan”

THOMAS CRANMER: Mahuta ditches the ‘no surprises’ policy

As Cabinet Ministers have been blindsided by developments in the Three Waters legislation, the events of last Wednesday night give a glimpse of the power politics that are at play within government.  THOMAS CRANMER writes: 

As the furore over the government’s attempted entrenchment of the anti-privatisation provision within the Three Waters legislation continues to buffer the government, Ministers could be forgiven for thinking that their ‘no surprises’ policy has been replaced with something rather more dramatic.

Last week, the Prime Minister was blindsided when Barry Soper asked for an explanation about the expansion of elements of the reforms to include geothermal and coastal waters. Ministers Robertson and Woods similarly both confessed to not knowing anything about the change. It gave the impression of a Cabinet that had lost its grip on Three Waters. More broadly, it raised questions as to who is actually in charge. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Mahuta ditches the ‘no surprises’ policy”

THOMAS CRANMER: Labour reintroduces blasphemy laws

The government repealed blasphemous libel laws three years ago but now looks set to re-introduce something remarkably similar. It is an amendment that not even the Royal Commission has recommended.  THOMAS  CRANMER writes-

As the government was labelled “reckless and irresponsible” on Wednesday for attempting to rush through 24 bills, some without public consultation, the chances of bad law being made is extremely high.

Already this week we have seen the Prime Minister and her Cabinet colleagues so badly exposed on the Water Services Entities Bill, that it has required Minister Mahuta to make an amendment in an effort to quell growing public concern about the scope of the Bill.

That amendment, by the way, is merely a drafting sleight of hand that doesn’t change the substance or scope of the Bill but more on that next week.

Given the speed at which the government is moving we can be sure that it is not the only wrinkle that will make its way through the House and onto the statute books. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Labour reintroduces blasphemy laws”

THOMAS CRANMER: Government ducks Bill of Rights assessment on Three Waters bill

While politicians and commentators raise concerns about the race-based nature of the Three (or Five) Waters reforms, the government has produced its Bill of Rights analysis which is superficial and slapdash at best.  THOMAS CRANMER writes –

It may come as a surprise to some that the government has already obtained legal advice from the Ministry of Justice and the Crown Law Office to scrutinize whether the Water Services Entities Bill is consistent with the Bill of Rights Act. In fact the advice was considered by Cabinet at the end of May, and was then quietly published on the Ministry of Justice’s website.

Given the racial component to the proposed co-governance structure of Three Waters and to the Te Mana o te Wai statements, which confer broad rights exclusively on mana whenua, that advice would seem to be highly relevant to the current public debate regarding the suitability of the reforms. Continue reading “THOMAS CRANMER: Government ducks Bill of Rights assessment on Three Waters bill”

Unions press ahead to win “fair pay” agreements. But what if they add to inflationary pressure?

One of  NZ’s leading economists Cameron Bagrie told  the TV3 AM show on Tuesday the increase in wages in NZ is a “success” but we are getting to a point of too much success.

His warning came as  the Dominion-Post reported what it called “an avalanche”  of fair pay applications are expected to be made over the next few months as unions gather momentum to launch bids for better pay for workers under the new fair pay agreement law.

Fair pay agreements set out specific conditions and deals between workers and employers in an industry or occupation, with the regime for establishing them coming into effect next month.

They can be triggered by support from 1000 workers or 10% of a workforce. The fair pay legislation stemmed from a major plank in the Labour Party’s election policy. 

So how will that  “avalanche”  fit  with what the Reserve Bank  is  trying to do  with its action  to halt the momentum in inflationary pressure?.

Will  it be  another  economic disaster to be  chalked up by the Ardern government?

Here is  what  Bagrie told  AM  viewers:

“What we’ve got there at the moment is success. It’s a great story that wages are moving up, of course, but we are now into that zone where it’s too much success because it’s actually adding to inflation.”

It’s only a  month since the Ardern government passed into  law its flagship fair pay legislation.

Workplace Relations Minister Michael Wood called it an historic moment for New Zealand workers.

“The Fair Pay Agreements Bill will improve employment conditions, by enabling employers and employees to bargain collectively for industry or occupation-wide minimum employment terms,” he said.

 “By increasing bargaining co-ordination to agree minimum employment terms within a sector, outcomes for vulnerable employees will be improved and we will see growth in the incomes of New Zealand employees.”

Similarly, the Greens said the passing of the legislation was a “landmark change” and a “huge step forward”.

But will the  enthusiasm for  the  new  legislation  be  as  strong if, as Cameron   Bagrie  says,  it  adds to  inflationary pressure  just as the Reserve Bank raises interest rates again in its battle to control the inflation that is pushing  up mortgage bills so fast?

As the Dominion-Post reported this week,many sectors are already prepared to get their applications for fair pay agreements through on December 1.

First Union’s Louisa Jones said bus driver and supermarket retail members wanted to initiate the process and put in applications as soon as possible.

“This is massive. Workers are excited to try and do it.”

They already had over 1000 signatures for supermarket workers, she said.

Earlier this month a deal saw Countdown staff receive an average pay rise of 12% over a two-year collective agreement, with the union wanting to see other supermarket workers offered a similar rise.

First Union is working with the Tramways Union on the bus driver application, with secretary Kevin O’Sullivan saying they would have the numbers to kick off the fair pay process, “no problem at all”.

 O’Sullivan says people in regional NZ and smaller towns will benefit most from fair pay agreements.

“I’m completely confident we’ll [see] no problem having the numbers. The issue will be once we get down to negotiations”.

O’Sullivan said a fair pay agreement would have the most impact in the regions and in smaller towns.

As Point of Order sees it, it would be fiendishly ironic if the wage increases negotiated under the new fair pay legislation add to inflationary  pressure within the economy.

Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters, Te Mana o te Wai and a control mechanism the Govt is providing for the sole use of mana whenua

Thomas Cranmer is  the pseudonym adopted by a legal analyst who has been carefully dissecting the Three Waters legislation and tweeting his findings on Twitter.

Over some months, he has been unpicking the threads of the Three Waters command structure to reveal the extent of the control being gifted to Māori over water.

This is the first of a series of articles he is posting on the Three Waters issues…

Three Waters and Te Mana o te Wai

Deep within the Water Services Entities Bill is a mechanism that will have significant  influence at the operating level of the structure – it is a mechanism that is only available to mana whenua.

By the Government’s own admission the Three Waters reform is a highly complicated proposal made necessary by the need to upgrade our existing water infrastructure whilst upholding the Crown’s Treaty obligations. But despite its complexity the public has been repeatedly assured in plain and simple terms that co-governance will not give Maori ownership or control of water assets. Continue reading “Thomas Cranmer: Three Waters, Te Mana o te Wai and a control mechanism the Govt is providing for the sole use of mana whenua”

Abortion regulation – in New Zealand and the USA – belongs in their democratically elected legislatures 

 

Guest column by Nicholas Kerr 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s comments about the US Supreme Court’s recent ruling on abortion inadvertently help explain why the court was right to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the issue to the states.  She noted that New Zealand “recently legislated to decriminalise abortion and treat it as a health rather than criminal issue.”

The passage of that legislation was only the latest in a long and incremental series of policy changes on the subject that have taken place over the past century. 

While many policy issues in New Zealand have divided the country, the divisions have tended to be short-lived as each side had their voices heard and the debates concluded.

As I think back to my days growing up in New Zealand during the 1980s and ‘90s, I recall many controversial public policy debates, but abortion isn’t one of them. Continue reading “Abortion regulation – in New Zealand and the USA – belongs in their democratically elected legislatures “

We don’t recall Ministers drawing attention to their new road-block laws – but Hone Harawira is making the most of them

There were no new statements on the Beehive website when we checked today, which means ministers have nothing fresh to announce – or rather, nothing they want to boast about or let us know about.

Matters such as changes to the Covid laws which determine who can mount road blocks to stop people going where they might want to go.  

The COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Act (No 2) 2021 was enacted on 20 November 2021.

According to the  Ministry of Health website, this legislation mainly continues to enable the Minister for COVID-19 Response to issue Orders to respond to COVID-19 in a flexible and agile way.  

Many of the changes made by this Amendment Act are technical in nature. These include clarifying some terms in the Act and improving transparency around decision making.

And:

Most of the changes in this Amendment Act will not immediately have direct impacts on the general public. However, future Orders made under the Act using these changes may impose obligations or requirements on individuals to ensure the Government can supress and minimise the impact of COVID-19 and reconnect New Zealand.

The one change that will have a more immediate direct impact on all New Zealanders is the increase of infringement penalties for people who breach orders under the Act. The Government believes these higher penalties will more accurately reflect the risks associated with breaching an Order. Continue reading “We don’t recall Ministers drawing attention to their new road-block laws – but Hone Harawira is making the most of them”

Chloe Swarbrick helps scuttle medicinal cannabis bill because it embraces a “pharmaceuticalised commercial model”

The National Party’s deputy leader and health spokesperson, Shane Reti, popped into the news yesterday because he was promoting a bill before Parliament which aimed to make medicinal cannabis more affordable and accessible.

The Greens Chloe Swarbrick was among the MPs who voted against the bill, among other reasons because …

“It represents a highly pharmaceuticalised, commercial model…” 

Does this mean she wants amateur growers to get a slice of the medicinal action? Or gang members?

Reti told RNZ the bill had three key points: cannabis with low THC could be obtained over the counter; it improved the MedSafe consenting process; and the prescribing regime would be pharmacy dispensing, such as in the US.

Moreover, the bill addressed some issues under the current regime, such as tightening up the eligibility of who can manufacture medicinal cannabis.

A key consideration was that two years after the medicinal cannabis law took effect

“ …  we have no new affordable products on the shelf and we need to change that really quickly.” Continue reading “Chloe Swarbrick helps scuttle medicinal cannabis bill because it embraces a “pharmaceuticalised commercial model””

Let’s see how the milk flows – and to whom – after DIRA changes are included in a deluge of new laws

Latest from the Beehive

While the news media have been preoccupied with matters such as the resignation of a National MP and sacking of a Labour minister in recent days, Parliament has been getting on with legislating.  It has passed a tanker-load of bills, since we last posted a Beehive Bulletin, including legislation that government the economically vital dairy industry and Fonterra’s role in it.

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill amends legislation passed almost 20 years ago to enable the creation of Fonterra and promote the efficient operation of dairy markets in New Zealand.

But the dairy sector has changed considerably since 2001 and the amendments made to “this very aged legislation” ensure this regulatory regime puts the sector in the best possible position in a post-COVID world, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

The Primary Production Select Committee had recommended removing the requirement on Fonterra to accept all applications from dairy farmers wanting to become shareholders and supply milk to Fonterra, or re-enter Fonterra after leaving the co-operative.  O’Connor agreed on this point.

“This Government is determined to ensure we move milk up the value chain. This change will enable Fonterra to invest in that higher-value end.

“The new and improved DIRA Bill will serve our dairy sector, and New Zealand, well for many years to come.”

The Bill:

  • Removes the requirement for Fonterra to accept applications to become shareholders, and provides guidance on what it should consider when assessing applications.
  • Provides for a regular review of the DIRA on a 4 – 6 yearly basis, to provide regulatory certainty.
  • Limits Fonterra’s discretion in regard to setting a key assumption in calculating the base milk price (the ‘asset beta’).
  • Requires Fonterra to appoint one member of its Milk Price Panel on the nomination of the Minister of Agriculture.
  • Removes the requirement for Fonterra to supply regulated milk to independent processors with their own supply of 30 million litres or more in a single season.
  • Updates the terms on which Fonterra supplies regulated milk to Goodman Fielder for the benefit of domestic consumers.

But our legislators have been frenetically busy on several other fronts.-

The passing of the Public Service Legislation Bill will repeal and replace the State Sector Act 1988.   The new Act:

  • provides a more flexible set of options for how the Public Service can organise itself to better respond to specific priorities
  • allows public servants to move between agencies more easily
  • clearly establishes the purpose, principles, and values of an apolitical Public Service, as well as its role in government formation
  • supports the Crown in its commitment to and its relationship with Māori
  • strengthens leadership across the Public Service and, in particular, provides for system and future focused leadership, and
  • shifts the focus from state services to public services, changing the name of the State Services Commission to the Public Service Commission.

Parliament has passed the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill, intended to provide better information on log supply and build investor confidence in the forestry sector. The Bill was introduced as part of Budget 2020 and supports the predictable and long-term supply of timber. Forestry Minister Shane Jones says it will help build stronger linkages between forest growers, domestic processors and exporters, improved professional standards, and greater confidence in business transactions both domestically and internationally.

The Equal Pay Amendment Bill was passed, aimed at giving people working in female-dominated professions a clearer pathway for pay equity by ensuring that businesses, workers, and unions can bargain more effectively and fairly. It aligns with the bargaining process in the Employment Relations Act 2000.

The Infrastructure Funding and Financing Act – described as a breakthrough for housing developments in high-growth areas – has been passed into law.  It establishes the Infrastructure Levy Model, which the Government has developed in partnership with high-growth councils. A key feature of the model is the establishment of an entity called a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a financing tool that enables debt finance to be raised from the private sector and ring-fenced from a council’s balance sheet, not affecting their debt levels or credit rating.

The just-passed Rates Rebate (Statutory Declarations) Amendment Act makes it easier for eligible ratepayers to access the Rates Rebate Scheme. This is expected to make it easier for low income ratepayers to get rates support from the Government. In the 2019 rating year, 103,000 people successfully applied for a rates rebate.

The passage of the Urban Development Bill aims to give Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities the tools it needs to build homes at scale and pace by bringing together councils, communities, mana whenua and private developers .  It will lead projects that will transform communities all around New Zealand, and provide much-needed housing and infrastructure.

The passing of Te Ture Whenua Māori (Succession, Dispute Resolution, and Related Matters) Amendment Bill ensures the legislation works better for Māori land owners and fixes some of the barriers to succeeding Māori land.  The legislation changes the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act to give Māori land owners better support to resolve disputes and build papakāinga housing on their whenua .

The passing of the Taumata Arowai – the Water Services Regulator Bill creates a new regulatory body to oversee, administer and enforce a new and strengthened drinking water regulatory system. It will also have a national oversight role to improve the environmental performance of storm water and wastewater networks.

Law changes to end tenure review and provide for better management of Crown pastoral lands in the South Island high country were considered by Parliament with the first reading of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill.  Publicly owned Crown pastoral lands comprise 1.2 million hectares of land in the South Island and represent about 5% of New Zealand’s land area. The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill ends tenure review. It aims to ensure the ecological, landscape, cultural, heritage and scientific values of Crown owned pastoral land are maintained or improved, while at the same time providing for ongoing pastoral farming.

While those bills were being considered, some ministers nevertheless had time to dole out million of dollars of our money.

  • A $50 million investment is being made from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to address the backlog of cases across the court system following the COVID-19 lockdown period. It will provide for five District Court judges, four acting High Court judges, one acting Associate judge and around 40 fulltime support staff. The funding also provides for extra Police prosecution staff to support more criminal events in court; two extra Corrections prison officers to support those held on remand and for transport to-and-from court or AVL appearances; further resource for Oranga Tamariki for the increase in care and protection of children applications; and a small investment in Crown Law for increased Crown prosecution work.
  • The Government is putting $8.5 million towards the restoration and strengthening of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Wellington. The funding comes from the $3 billion tagged contingency set aside in Budget 2020 for infrastructure.  Almost 300 construction jobs will be created.
  • The Government is investing $53.3 million in a variety of projects in the Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman regions. The projects are being funded by a combination of loans and investments from the Provincial Growth Fund and the Infrastructure Reference Group’s shovel ready projects.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Government has invested $48 million in seven infrastructure projects in Taranaki to support jobs and the regional economy. The grandstands at Yarrow Stadium get the lion’s share, a $20 million investment, with co-funding from the regional council, to bring the stadium back to full operational use (and create 150 jobs).

Then there were matters we can sum up as “other business“.

  • New rules to help our fastest growing cities make room for their rising populations have been released. The National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) will direct councils – particularly in the five high growth centres of Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, and Christchurch – to free up their planning rules while focusing on well-functioning neighbourhoods and communities.  Later this month an announcement will be made on the timeline for the companion National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL), which will ensure highly productive land for food and fibre production is not permanently lost to developments without considering other options.
  • The report back of the Royal Commission into the Attacks on Christchurch Mosques on 15 March 2019 has been further extended due to delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Commission will now report back on November 26.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Energy Minister Megan Woods launched “Ara Ake” in New Plymouth.  That’s the name they have given the National New Energy Development Centre funded (to the tune of $27m) by the Government and established by Venture Taranaki. Are Ake will lead the development of new clean energy technologies and work with businesses to commercialise their innovations creating high-paying local jobs.
  • Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Simon Birmingham and New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker met virtually yesterday to conduct annual Closer Economic Relations discussions between two of the world’s most integrated economies.

Release

24 JULY 2020

Government ensures greater safety for our drinking water

The passing today of the Taumata Arowai – the Water Services Regulator Bill draws a further line under the Havelock North tragedy and will lead to safer and sustainable drinking water for all New Zealanders.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta

Local Government

Release

24 JULY 2020

Whenua law changes help whānau

Māori land owners will be better supported to resolve disputes and build papakāinga housing on their whenua with targeted changes to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act now becoming law.

Release

24 JULY 2020

Better access to rates support

Minister of Local Government Hon Nanaia Mahuta welcomes legislation that makes it easier for low income ratepayers to access rates support from the Government.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta

Local Government

Release

24 JULY 2020

Mosque Attack Royal Commission to report back in November

There has been a further extension to the report back of the Royal Commission into the Attacks on Christchurch Mosques on 15 March 2019, Minister for Internal Affairs Tracey Martin has confirmed.

Hon Tracey Martin

Internal Affairs

Release

24 JULY 2020

Law to help infrastructure financing passes

The Government has passed legislation establishing a new tool to enable infrastructure for housing and urban development.

Hon Phil Twyford

Economic Development

Release

24 JULY 2020

DIRA Bill will serve the dairy sector well for years to come

Legislation to deliver ongoing benefits for New Zealand farmers was passed today, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

Hon Damien O’Connor

Agriculture

Release

24 JULY 2020

Over $53m for Top of the South projects

The Government is investing $53.3 million in a variety of projects that will provide a huge boost to the Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman regions.

Fletcher Tabuteau

Regional Economic Development

Release

24 JULY 2020

Sacred Heart Cathedral to be restored and strengthened

Almost 300 construction jobs will be created with work getting underway on the restoration and strengthening of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Wellington.

Hon Grant Robertson

Arts, Culture and Heritage

 

Finance

Release

24 JULY 2020

Support to clear COVID-19 affected court cases

The Government is taking action to address the backlog of cases across the court system following the COVID-19 lockdown period, Minister of Justice Andrew Little announced today.

Hon Andrew Little

Justice

Release

23 JULY 2020

Equal Pay Amendment Bill Passes with Unanimous Support

New Zealanders working in female-dominated professions will have a clearer pathway for pay equity with the passing of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill at 11:59pm this evening, say Minister for Workplace Relations, Andrew Little, and Minister for Women, Julie Anne Genter.

Hon Andrew Little Hon Julie Anne Genter

Women

Workplace Relations and Safety

Release

23 JULY 2020

New legislation to end tenure review and improve management of Crown pastoral lands

Law changes to end tenure review and provide for better management of Crown pastoral lands in the South Island high country were considered by Parliament today with the first reading of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill says Minister for Land Information, Eugenie Sage.

Hon Eugenie Sage

Land Information

Release

23 JULY 2020

Log Traders & Forestry Advisers Registration Bill passed by Parliament

Parliament has today passed the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill that will provide better information on log supply and build investor confidence in the forestry sector, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.

Hon Shane Jones

Forestr

Release

23 JULY 2020

Joint Ministerial Statement: New Zealand-Australia trade talks

Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and Hon David Parker MP, New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth, met virtually on Thursday 23 July to conduct annual Closer Economic Relations discussions between two of the world’s most integrated economies.

Hon David Parker

Trade and Export Growth

Release

23 JULY 2020

Kāinga Ora gets tooled up to build more homes

Legislation to transform our urban areas and create sustainable, inclusive and thriving communities was passed today, Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said.

Hon Phil Twyford

Urban Development

Release

23 JULY 2020

New rules to help our cities grow up and out

New rules to help our fastest growing cities make room for their rising populations has today been released by Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford and Environment Minister David Parker.

Hon Phil Twyford Hon David Parker

Environment

Urban Development

Release

23 JULY 2020

Parliament passes Bill to reform public service

Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins said today’s passing of the Public Service Legislation Bill will deliver the most significant change in the public service in 30 years.

Hon Chris Hipkins

State Services

Release

23 JULY 2020

Grand plans funded for Yarrow Stadium as Govt invests in Taranaki infrastructure

Repairs and redevelopment of Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth will bring it back to full use while creating economic stimulus and jobs, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced while visiting the region and the stadium today.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister

Release

23 JULY 2020

Clean energy boost as Ara Ake launched

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Energy Minister Megan Woods launched Ara Ake in New Plymouth today – the National New Energy Development Centre funded by the Government and established by Venture Taranaki.