Kiri warms towards tougher party funding restrictions (perhaps encouraged by the Nats warning of the “chilling effect”)

Buzz from the Beehive

The National Party’s strong objection to plans to overhaul New Zealand’s political donations regime, expressed in submissions on the Government’s proposed sweeping changes to electoral law, were reported in a Stuff report last week.

The changes would include lowering the threshold for political parties to disclose donors from $15,000 to $1500 and require political parties to make public their annual financial statements .

This would have a “chilling effect” on democracy, the Nats contended.

The Ardern government isn’t too fussed about protecting the country’s democratic electoral arrangements nowadays, of course, as has become glaringly obvious over the past year or so (see here, here and here for evidence)

And hey – if the Nats (a) are bleating about an electoral-reform proposal being disagreeable and (b) are warning about its chilling effect on democracy…

Well, let’s get on with it.

And sure enough, Justice Minister Kiri Allan today announced changes to our electoral laws that will require the disclosure of:

  • donor identities for any party donations over $5,000;
  • the number and total value of party donations under $1,500 not made anonymously;
  • the proportion of total party donations that are in-kind (non-monetary) donations; and
  • loans to candidates from unregistered lenders. 

Continue reading “Kiri warms towards tougher party funding restrictions (perhaps encouraged by the Nats warning of the “chilling effect”)”

Academics announce new Centre of Indigenous Science – and now (it seems) they will find out what they should be teaching

Any notion that “the science is settled” is (or should be) anathema to good scientists.

There is always more to learn

“… because the scientific method never provides absolute conclusions. It’s always possible that the next observation will contradict the current consensus.”

 But in this country the fundamental matter of defining science and determining what should be taught to science studies in our universities has become more unsettling than unsettled.

“Indigenous knowledge” has become “indigenous science”, overriding the conventional view that science is colour blind and culturally neutral – that science is science is science.

And the heads of our most highly esteemed academic institutions do not resist the push to have “indigenous science” incorporated within their science faculties rather than – let’s say – Māori Studies or anthropological departments.

And so last week the Otago Daily Times reported:   Continue reading “Academics announce new Centre of Indigenous Science – and now (it seems) they will find out what they should be teaching”

Culture Minister coy about Film Commission appointments – but she must decide on Dame Kerry’s role as leading lady

No appointments or reappointments to the board of the New Zealand Film Commission have been announced by Carmel Sepuloni, Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, and declared in ministerial press statements since early 2019.  Yet the appointments of two board members she announced then (when she was Associate Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage) should have expired on 30 March last year.

Meanwhile the commission has become embroiled in a conflict-of-interest controversy which has resulted in its governance procedures being subjected to an independent review and its chief executive being on “special leave”.

Its website says the commission is governed by an eight-member board appointed by the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

Members represent the film industry and the wider business and arts community. The Board meets every two months to set policy and budgets, monitor progress and consider applications for feature film financing. Continue reading “Culture Minister coy about Film Commission appointments – but she must decide on Dame Kerry’s role as leading lady”

It’s Matariki (if you hadn’t noticed) but we are being urged to celebrate the occasion and not try to commercialise it

Buzz from the Beehive

Fresh news – since our previous Buzz – comes from Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker.  He has announced he will represent New Zealand at the second United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, which runs from 27 June to 1 July.

Other ministers presumably have gone home for the long weekend to celebrate the nation’s first authentically Māori public holiday, Matariki

Consistent with the Government’s enthusiasm for mobilising the media and commandeering the airwaves to broadcast Matariki-focused mass programming, we imagined they all would be pitching in with press statements to promote Matariki or instruct us about its cultural significance.

Not so.  We found only a speech from the PM and one press statement in the names of the PM, Kelvin Davis and Kiri Allan.

Davis is Minister of Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti and the PM and Allan are Associate Ministers of Arts, Culture and Heritage.

The Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage is Carmel Sepuloni.  We are left to conjecture on why she did not add her name to the statement. Continue reading “It’s Matariki (if you hadn’t noticed) but we are being urged to celebrate the occasion and not try to commercialise it”

Farmers start new dairy season on an encouraging note as Fonterra signals another record milk price

New  Zealand’s  dairy  industry, which is  proving  again it is  the  backbone of  the  country’s  export industries, has  been  given  fresh encouragement with the big  co-op Fonterra signalling  a  record  milk price for  the  season  that  has  just  opened.

It  comes  as the  payout  for  the  just-finished  season  stands  as  the  highest  since  the  co-op  was  formed in 2001.

So although farmers have  made  decisions for  this  season on  the  number  of  cows  they  are  milking,  they  have the  incentive  to go  hard on production  levels,  despite the  pressure  from  higher  costs  and worries  over climate changes measures, including  projected charges on emissions.

Fonterra’s buoyant  forecast contrasts with  a recent  report  by agribusiness banking specialist Rabobank  which  said that despite global milk production looking set to decrease for the fourth consecutive quarter in Q2 2022, weakening global demand is expected to create a scenario that will see moderate price declines in dairy commodities during the second half of the year. Continue reading “Farmers start new dairy season on an encouraging note as Fonterra signals another record milk price”

How we are suckling the sheep-milk industry – Govt invests $7.97m in partnership which involves state-owned Landcorp

Buzz from the Beehive

Damien O’Connor scored twice – he issued one statement as Minister of Trade and another as Minister of Agriculture – while rookie Emergency Relief Minister Kieran McNulty broke his duck, announcing flood relief for the West Coast.

Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall put more runs on the board, too, with a statement about Government work to combat new and more dangerous variants of COVID-19.

In his trade job, O’Connor declared he was pleased with the quick progress of the United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill that was introduced to the House yesterday.

It would  enable New Zealand to implement its obligations under the FTA and was necessary to bring the FTA into force, he explained.

The Bill will align New Zealand’s domestic law with obligations in the FTA, including amendments to the Tariff Act 1988, the Tariff, the Customs and Excise Regulations 1996, the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001, the Overseas Investment Act 2005, the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005, and the Copyright Act 1994. The Bill also creates new regime required to administer a transitional apple export quota. Continue reading “How we are suckling the sheep-milk industry – Govt invests $7.97m in partnership which involves state-owned Landcorp”

When all that money is being pumped into health (as the PM insists), we may wonder why the system is so badly strained

Opposition Leader  Christopher Luxon  has  shown  he  is  a  fast  learner.  Where   earlier  he  often ended  on  the  receiving  end  in exchanges  with  the  Prime Minister in Parliament, now  it  is the Prime  Minister who who can be seen back-pedalling,

Take,  for  example, pressures  in the  health  system  which are causing  so  much anguish  to  New Zealanders.

The  National Party  has  turned  the  spotlight on emergency departments which are facing high demand and staff shortages, with at least one district health board delaying planned surgeries for weeks.

Luxon  had  laid  the  groundwork  for his questions with  an earlier  statement that he would commit to delivering and improving health outcomes.

The government

“… confuses and conflates spending announcements with actually securing outcomes”, Luxon said.

“This government cannot get anything done, it doesn’t matter which portfolio you pick up, they’re actually spending more money, hiring more bureaucrats and getting worse outcomes.” Continue reading “When all that money is being pumped into health (as the PM insists), we may wonder why the system is so badly strained”

Flexing the state’s muscle: Māori ministers are admiring as the media are mobilised to inform the masses about Matariki

Buzz from the Beehive

The state is flexing its muscle in the building and supermarket industries.

In the building industry the intervention can be criticised as long overdue and unlikely to do much good any time soon to remedy a crippling shortage of plasterboard.

A Ministerial taskforce has been set up to look at what more can be done to ease the  shortage, including the potential for legislative or regulatory change.

In the supermarket business, the muscle-flexing has been announced in robust language – the press statement is headed Commerce Commission empowered to crackdown on covenants.

The Commerce Commission will be enabled to require supermarkets to hand over information regarding contracts, arrangements and land covenants which make it difficult for competing retailers to set up shop.

A much more troubling sign of the state flexing its muscle can be found in a statement jointly released by  Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson and Māori Crown Relations Te Arawhiti Minister Kelvin Davis.  Their lark is the mobilising of the media for an exercise in mass education – or is it indoctrination? Continue reading “Flexing the state’s muscle: Māori ministers are admiring as the media are mobilised to inform the masses about Matariki”

Poverty and pessimism – slump in consumer confidence brings more unpalatable news to Robertson and the Govt

When the  country’s  newspapers devote  their  cover  pages  to  advertisements  captioned “The  cost  living crisis”, it’s not something  that  makes palatable  reading  for  government ministers.

When the advertisements come from an organisation like Kidscan, appealing for donations “to make sure children in poverty get the food they urgently need this  winter”, those ministers may well choke on  their morning lattes.

Prime Minister Jacinda  Ardern  has  other  weighty  issues  on  her  mind – at least for now – as  she  prepares to fly off  to  Europe to  talk  trade  in  Brussels with the  EU and  security in  Madrid   with  NATO.

But  for deputy Prime  Minister Grant Robertson,  left  to  mind the  shop while she is away, the media’s highlighting of a cost-of-living crisis and the persistent challenge of child poverty could  dampen  his normally  cheery  optimism on  the  state  of  the  economy.

Yet  another  dampener would be the latest Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Survey, which has  recorded the lowest reading on NZ consumer confidence since the survey began in 1988. Continue reading “Poverty and pessimism – slump in consumer confidence brings more unpalatable news to Robertson and the Govt”

Dishing out awards to volunteers should have been a calming chore for Minister in charge of highly stressed health system

Buzz from the Beehive

We introduced our Buzz report yesterday by observing that while Health Minister Andrew Little was announcing the launch of a meth addiction service in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, two of his colleagues were dealing with global issues.

We introduce today’s Buzz with much the same sentence.  While Andrew Little was at an awards ceremony to celebrate winners of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards, two of his colleagues were dealing with global issues  – the PM announced plans to travel to Europe and Australia “for a range of trade, tourism and foreign policy events”; Trade Minister Damien O’Connor will travel to Europe, Canada and Australia “to advance New Zealand’s economic interests”.

The PM’s travel plans most notably include her attendance of a session of the NATO Summit along with leaders from Australia, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

The awards ceremony in Parliament’s Grand Hall would have provided Little with an hour or so of relief from a slew of challenges within his portfolio and a daily flow of adverse news media reports – Continue reading “Dishing out awards to volunteers should have been a calming chore for Minister in charge of highly stressed health system”