Yes, there’s lots of money in the PGF – but keep an eye on all the other troughs

The Point of Order Trough Monitor has drawn attention to a fresh batch of handouts from the public purse, reminding us that the Provincial Growth Fund isn’t the only trough in the capital.

Fair to say, in the case of Education Minister Chris Hipkin, the press statement which triggered the trough monitor related to the government’s spending on tertiary fees in the past year.

The statement was deftly crafted to camouflage the cost to taxpayers.  Rather, it brayed that first-year students have been spared the repayment burden that would have resulted from hundreds of millions of dollars in loan borrowing.

On the other hand, Winston Peters unabashedly has announced fresh handouts from a fund in his Racing ministerial bailiwick and encouraged racing clubs to apply for a place at the next serving from this trough. Continue reading “Yes, there’s lots of money in the PGF – but keep an eye on all the other troughs”

Rolls Royce not alone in being troubled by airliner engine problems

Rolls Royce has  had to absorb a public caning — as well as a heavy  blow to  its   reputation  as a world leader  in its field —  over troubles with its Trent engines powering the Air NZ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. It took a further hit when Air NZ chose the GEnx for its new 787-10 fleet.

Point of Order understand a solution is near  for the  problem  with the  Trent.  Air NZ’s flight operations and engineers are working to manage power levels used by pilots at various stages of the flight.

The problems affect the high pressure turbine sections of the engine and what engineers call “sulphidation” – corrosion of turbine blades caused by various combinations of airborne pollutants.

Rolls Royce is not alone. Air NZ has also experienced problems with the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G  geared turbofan engines on its new A321NEO (new engine option). One has had to have an engine change after only 20 flights while another has had oil contamination issues.

All engines have received gearbox modifications including one on arrival after its delivery flight. Pratt & Whitney are working hard to resolve the issues, we are told, mindful of the public furore suffered by rival Rolls.

Robertson talks about the Well-being Budget – and hints we should brace for the long haul

Finance  Minister   Grant  Robertson  exuded  confidence  in  Parliament on Tuesday  that  his budget  this week  will  tackle “NZ’s  long-term challenges”.

He emphasised “long-term” in  answering  a  patsy question  from  a   Labour back-bencher.  He mentioned “ big difference in this year’s Budget“, which is is that “we have integrated evidence and a range of indicators of well-being at every stage of the budget process”.

Hence the Well-being Budget will enable the government “to track New Zealanders’ success on all of the things that they value”. Continue reading “Robertson talks about the Well-being Budget – and hints we should brace for the long haul”

Climate-change activists (when they go back to school) could study why there is good news for energy companies

As NZ schoolchildren  gear   up  for a   ‘strike’   against  the  approaching  apocalypse  precipitated  by  global  warming,  there is  (slightly)  more comforting  news  (though  not  perhaps to the children) from an outfit   familiar with NZ weather  patterns.

Meridian  Energy  reports  that  it  has  seen  no significant  change to  catchment inflows over the last 100 years.  There has been some  seasonal  shift in inflows , with drier   autumns and wetter  summers.  It  notes snowpack  and glaciers  are getting smaller.

Meridian,  NZ’s  largest  electricity generator,  reports it is  projected  to get wetter in its   catchments, including in  winter, with bigger  individual  rainstorms.  But it  will be drier in  irrigation areas.

And  warmer  everywhere.

But is this bad  news  for  a  company  that sells  electricity? Continue reading “Climate-change activists (when they go back to school) could study why there is good news for energy companies”

A carbon tax – an issue on which top economists and James Shaw find common ground

No sooner had the dust settled after the government decided against introducing a capital gains tax than a visiting big-wig from the United Nations was advising our government to introduce another form of tax.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the head of the UN, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has challenged the Government to slap a tax on pollution.

But he was not urging the total tax take be increased.  Instead …

“Shift taxes from salaries, to carbon. We must tax pollution, not people,” he said.

This means reducing income tax as a tax on carbon is applied, Guterres explained.

“We need to make sure that when we adopt measures that increase costs, that we reduce costs in other aspects of the economy.”

Continue reading “A carbon tax – an issue on which top economists and James Shaw find common ground”

Methane and interest rates – the things Brash can publicly discuss without upsetting the thought police

We haven’t spotted any expressions of outrage or dismay, in response to news that Don Brash is throwing his money and weight behind technology that could help to solve New Zealand’s methane headache.

According to Carbon News, the former National Party leader and Reserve Bank Governor is the sole outside investor in Zest Biotech, a family company commercialising technology developed by New Zealand horticultural scientist Nathan Balasingham

Balasingham last year was nominated for the prestigious World Technology Award in the Individual Biotechnology category for his products Biozest and Agrizest.

Anyone searching for a race angle to this story about Brash should note that Balasingham was born in Malaysia through Sri Lankan ancestry and graduated from Massey University with a Masters Degree in Horticultural Science with 1st class honours.

Armed with a PhD in economics as well as his RBNZ governorship experience, Brash stuck his head above the parapet again last week to express concerns after the Reserve Bank cut the official cash rate to 1.5%.  Continue reading “Methane and interest rates – the things Brash can publicly discuss without upsetting the thought police”

How ratepayers have been tapped for art junketing and electronic Christmas cards

The Point of Order Trough Monitor, alas, is limited to keeping an eye on spending and investment announcements from the Beehive. All sorts of squandering of our taxes pass beneath the radar.

The same goes for the wasteful use of our rates by local authorities.

But the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is able to do what our monitor can’t do and regularly reports on the findings of its surveillance.  

Headlines on the union’s press statements succinctly expose two examples  in recent days.

  • Waikato Regional Council spends $9,000 on electronic video Christmas cards  
  • Whangarei ratepayers charged $91,000 for art junket.

Continue reading “How ratepayers have been tapped for art junketing and electronic Christmas cards”