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”

Now that ‘binding’ has been defined (sort of), let’s anxiously wait for the meaning of ‘hate speech’

The Government seemed to be in a bind about the cannabis referendum to be held at the general election next year.  The dilemma was about whether the referendum should be binding.

Referencing a leaked cabinet paper, National Party drug reform spokeswoman Paula Bennett threw doubt on how binding the referendum would be. 

National declined to release the paper to protect the source (something of an impediment when it comes to establishing the credibility of claims against political opponents) but said only one of four referendum options due to be discussed by Cabinet yesterday might compel the Government to act on the outcome.

The other three possibilities would not be technically “binding” because the government would not be obliged to act on them. Continue reading “Now that ‘binding’ has been defined (sort of), let’s anxiously wait for the meaning of ‘hate speech’”

Innovative waste managers are among the latest beneficiaries of govt spending

As regular posts have demonstrated, Point of Order keeps an eye on how taxpayers’ money is being invested, spent or given away by the Ardern Government.

Ministers typically get a warm glow from announcing spending decisions, grants or the establishment of new troughs within the authority of their portfolios – and from providing photo opportunities to promote themselves.

Troughers aren’t the only recipients, it’s fair to say.  But deciding which spending is prudent – the sort which all taxpayers expect from a good government – and which is questionable can be very much a matter of opinion.

Our Trough Monitor recorded these announcements over the past week.  We’ll leave it to readers to decide the merits of the spending.

24 APRIL 2019

Boost for services to veterans and their families

Minister for Veterans Ron Mark announced additional funding to support the wellbeing of New Zealand’s veterans and their families.

The funding will go towards health and wellbeing assessments for veterans to ensure that when they leave the Defence Force they are linked to the right support services.

The review of the Veterans’ Support Act 2014 published by Professor Ron Paterson identified the need to do more for our veterans and their families, Mark said. This new funding package will address some of his key findings, and help meet increasing demands for services.

The Minister also announced a capital injection for an upgrade of Veterans’ Affairs’ client management system.  Better IT systems will ensure routine transactions can be carried out electronically, while freeing up staff to spend more time on complex cases.

In total the announcements represents an additional funding package of $4.1 million over four years for Veterans’ Affairs. The extra money comprises an extra $2.1 million in operating funding and a capital injection of $2 million to upgrade the existing client management system.

27 APRIL 2019

Minister congratulates Ākarana Sarah whānau on housing

 Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta, who also is Associate Minister of Housing, congratulated whānau from Bridge Pa, near Hastings for their vision of building  homes on their ancestral land.

Te Puni Kōkiri invested $376,661 towards infrastructure costs to assist the Ākarana Sarah Whānau Trust with their seven home papakāinga development near Bridge Pa, Hastings.

The papakāinga needed power and telecommunication services and an internal roadway to connect the homes. Whānau will own and build their own homes and are now well on the way to achieving this objective.

1 MAY 2019

Fresh funding to reduce waste

Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage, opening a fresh round of Waste Minimisation Funding, said the Government is backing New Zealanders with innovative ideas to solve the waste crisis

The fund backs New Zealanders with innovative ideas for new projects that help tackle our mounting waste problem, she said.

New Zealand businesses and community organisations are being invited to work with the government to find new solutions to old problems.

The Waste Minimisation Fund is only one part of the Government’s programme to help turn around New Zealand’s poor track record on waste.

The Waste Minimisation Fund varies each year based on money raised from the landfill levy. In 2017, $9.1 million was approved to fund 15 projects, and in 2018, $16.3 million was granted across 49 projects.

Funding is available for quality projects which will help achieve the Waste Minimisation Fund’s strategic outcomes. These are:

  • Move towards a circular economy in New Zealand
  • Encourage product stewardship
  • Build a more resilient resource recovery sector in New Zealand
  • Develop a sustainable plastics lifecycle.

All applications that are innovative and will have a positive impact on a variety of waste streams will be considered. Projects with secondary benefits, such as considering climate change impacts or economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits, will be given greater priority.

Applications close on May 29.

For more information on the Waste Minimisation Fund go here.


World press cuttings

Online snippets from the last week or so.

  • The lead actor in a popular Ukrainian satirical comedy (about a teacher being elected president after his online ranting against state corruption goes viral) has been elected president of Ukraine on a mandate to clean up corrption. Ukraine is the first country (after Israel) to have a Jewish Prime Minister and President.
  • London newspapers report that the number of violent crimes reported to the English and Welsh police rose – by nearly 20% last year, and doubling since 2008 – while the charging rate for all reported crimes fell to 8.2% – a new low.  The government prefers estimates derived from its annual crime survey of 50,000 households which suggest little change in recent years.
  • But the Wimbledon prowler has been brought to justice: he is thought to have committed up to 200 burglaries in the London suburb of Wimbledon over the last 10 years.  He lived in Manchester, which suggests he clocked up about 1200 hours of commuting time.
  • The New York Review of Books has a cracking review of Fatal Discord: Erasmus, Luther, and the Fight for the Western Mind  by Michael Massing. Both men identified the need for reform in the great institutions.  But Erasmus, the elegant intellectual gradualist, held firm on the need for a consensus of believers, while Luther, the dogmatic absolutist, was (well – perhaps unintentionally) a harbinger of religious and political pluralism.
  • On the subject of religious and political pluralism, two leading sportsmen  and a prominent politician reaffirmed their belief in hell with the BBC reporting differing reactions in each case.
  • In Bloomberg Opinion, Dan Wang makes the case that China will eventually rival the US in high tech.  He thinks market forces (ie, competition) in its huge internal market will outweigh non-market forces (eg, state intervention and political control).   The argument that China does markets better is not intuitive but it is definitely more sophisticated than those which said that the Soviet Union would overtake the the West.
  • Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that China is revising lending criteria for its international Belt and Road infrastructure programme over worries that some projects or countries may have difficulty in paying the money back.
  • The Financial Times also says that Britain’s National Heath Service is facing a staffing crisis.  Senior doctors risk earning nothing from extra work because of inflexible pension rules and high marginal tax rates.
  • The self control couldn’t last for ever. Brexiteers are compared to Nazis.