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”)”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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.
“… 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”
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”
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”
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”