Buzz from the Beehive: Crackdown on crime at sea (good luck with that) and a trip to Bangkok (all going well)

We are concerned about the wellbeing of Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor today, after he announced his plans to travel to Thailand this week.  He will represent New Zealand at the annual APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting in Bangkok.

The last time we recorded ministerial travel plans was at the weekend.  Phil Twyford – who is grandly named the Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth – would represent the Government at the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of Timor-Leste’s independence, and the inauguration of Dr Jose Ramos-Horta as Timor-Leste’s next President. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Crackdown on crime at sea (good luck with that) and a trip to Bangkok (all going well)”

Shaw is focused on climate change but Mahuta (with many more Anzac issues to consider) puts indigenous peoples first

International activities, one way or another, have influenced several ministerial announcements over the weekend.

The best news was that our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta, at long last had left the country to engage in the work of being a Minister of Foreign Affairs on foreign soil. She met with Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne, in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains for the biannual Australia-New Zealand Foreign Minister Consultations.

Obviously there was much to talk about (which would have taken the Minister’s mind off Three Waters reform).  The statement mentions:

  • Strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific, the preservation of “the liberal international order” to underpin stability and prosperity in the region and foster a sustainable regional balance where all countries – large and small – can freely pursue their legitimate interests.
  • Their strong support for open, rules-based trade based on market principles.
  • The role of the Pacific Islands Forum in projecting a strong and unified Pacific voice on the global stage.
  • Their commitment to ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, the importance of regional partnerships to stability, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and the role of AUKUS in this network.
  •  Their commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Continue reading “Shaw is focused on climate change but Mahuta (with many more Anzac issues to consider) puts indigenous peoples first”

Govt is “retiring” obsolete gear at Waihopai – but GCSB is not being retired from intelligence-gathering

Latest from the Beehive

Yes, we know the PM has delivered the keynote address to a global business audience at the APEC CEO Summit, the largest business conference in the Asia-Pacific region that runs adjacent to APEC’s Leaders’ Week meetings.  She called for political and business leaders to work together to build a strong, equitable and sustainable recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic.

But was there anything fresh in what she had to say?

Not that Point of Order could find, at  first blush, which is why we focussed instead on press statements by the Government Communications Security Bureau and its minister, Andrew Little.

In his statement, GCSB Director-General, Andrew Hampton, announced that two of the satellite communications interception dishes and radome coverings at Waihopai will be retired and deconstructed, while the station near Blenheim will remain an operational facility.

Andrew Little turned this into a decision which shows a contemporary intelligence agency being open about today’s national security challenges. Continue reading “Govt is “retiring” obsolete gear at Waihopai – but GCSB is not being retired from intelligence-gathering”

Nothing from Nanaia on NZ’s envoy in Turkey (if she’s still there) but you can read about an APEC meeting and vaccination rules

Latest from the Beehive

Covid-related issues and health have dominated the news from the Beehive over the weekend but Point of Order is keen to highlight developments in the foreign-policy domain.

First, we have noted a press statement from Grant Robertson after he chaired an APEC meeting (a virtual meeting, of course). More of this later.

Second, we can’t find  a statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta on developments in Turkey where our Ambassador (according to the news media) has been declared persona non grata.    

Maybe the Minister is busy with Three Waters stuff – or maybe reports of our Ambassador  being one of several envoys declared persona non  grata are the mischievous products of anti-Turkish propaganda.   

If our Ambassador is given a diplomatic eviction notice  – of course – we wonder what arrangements will be made by officials who run our Managed Isolation and Quarantine system.  Will she have to wait until she wins one of those lottery spots? Continue reading “Nothing from Nanaia on NZ’s envoy in Turkey (if she’s still there) but you can read about an APEC meeting and vaccination rules”

Hipkins gets huffy about “hermit” remark while the PM communicates with the UN General Assembly via Zoom

The Minister in charge of the country’s Covid-19 response, Chris Hipkins, was wrong to say former PM John Key’s description of New Zealand as a “smug hermit kingdom” is an insult to New Zealanders.

The Point of Order team  – for starters – are much more inclined to weigh the merits of what Key said in a newspaper column than feel insulted, take offence, or complain about racism, as too many people do nowadays rather than engage in a robust discussion.

Key’s column set out five suggested strategies to get vaccination rates up and end a reliance on managed isolation at the border.

Hipkins said these are generally already being enacted or looked at.

But he bridled at being reminded about our closed borders: Continue reading “Hipkins gets huffy about “hermit” remark while the PM communicates with the UN General Assembly via Zoom”

“Free” counselling for teachers – but maybe Hipkins and Robertson would benefit from counselling on where money comes from

We do admire the wellbeing-focused Ardern  government’s readiness to announce “free” services, even as the public debt comes under pressure from policy responses to the latest Covid-19 lockdown.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced a counselling service that – he hooted – is free for teachers and support staff across all early learning services, kōhanga reo, kura, and state and state-integrated schools.

It was among the latest press releases posted on the Beehive website.

Latest from the Beehive

Speech for the NZ Māori Tourism webinar for Māori businesses

This was a speech by Willie Jackson, who started by acknowledging how difficult it is to be a business right now with the Delta variant of COVID-19 in our communities.

Free counselling service for early learning and schooling workforce during COVID-19

Teachers and support staff across all early learning services, kōhanga reo, kura, and state and state-integrated schools can now access free COVID-19 Employee Assistance Programme support, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

Keynote address to APEC High-level meeting on Health and the Economy

This one’s a speech by Health Minister Andrew Little.

He begins:  Esteemed fellow ministers, delegates and colleagues – Tēnā koutou katoa – it is my pleasure to welcome you all to APEC’s 11th High-Level Meeting on Health and the Economy.

Poroporoaki: Des Ratima, ONZM, JP

Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson acknowledges the passing of Ngāti Kahungungu leader and kaumatua Des Ratima ONZM JP. Continue reading ““Free” counselling for teachers – but maybe Hipkins and Robertson would benefit from counselling on where money comes from”

Govt to contribute $600,000 to recovery from weekend storms in South Island – Pacific businesses will be given $2 million

On the home front, the Government has pitched in $600,000 to help the recovery  for people affected by the weekend’s violent weather and welcomed the New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s decision to take the Government’s improved pay offer to members and to lift strike notices.

Internationally, the PM has had a chat with President Biden and chaired an APEC leaders’ meeting on Covid-19 and conference.

And her government is providing $2 million (more than has been committed so far for the relief of weekend weather victims) to help Pacific businesses.

At the weekend we expanded on the PM’s chat with Biden (see HERE).

Now, at Point of Order,  we are braced for this week’s news from the Beehive. Continue reading “Govt to contribute $600,000 to recovery from weekend storms in South Island – Pacific businesses will be given $2 million”

PM’s foreign affairs speech – fortifying what Mahuta said – resonates strongly with the Biden Administration

 It has taken nearly nine months but finally the government has spelled out its foreign policy, much to the relief of neighbours, allies and friends.  Speeches by both Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta and now Prime Minister Ardern have been followed closely in many capitals.

It’s no coincidence that President Joe Biden called PM Ardern this week. 

Ostensibly, the call preceded the PM’s Zoom meeting with APEC leaders.  The real reason seems to be that – at last – Washington DC has heard the policy, in person, from NZ ministers.

According to Washington and Wellington the call went well and was cordial. Continue reading “PM’s foreign affairs speech – fortifying what Mahuta said – resonates strongly with the Biden Administration”

Big Sister (and her ministers) take “an extraordinary step” by making it mandatory for some workers to be vaccinated

In Britain, an outfit called Big Brother Watch has been lobbying British MPs to vote against making double coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for people working in adult care homes.

It is arguing:

This is a seismic legal change and the crossing of the Rubicon for medical choice, medical confidentiality and bodily autonomy in England – vital components of the right to privacy.

And:

We have sent every MP our briefing, which warns against this unnecessary, dangerous and discriminatory plan.

In this country we must keep an eye on Big Sister, too.

She and her government have issued an amended Health Order which extends compulsory Covid jabs to private sector staff in jobs considered too high risk to be left unprotected.

This now includes aviation security staff working in managed isolation hotels.

According to a Radio New Zealand report, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was aware of the significance of what she had endorsed when she announced the new directive yesterday. Continue reading “Big Sister (and her ministers) take “an extraordinary step” by making it mandatory for some workers to be vaccinated”

Team NZ’s rejection of public funding offer means around $100m won’t be sunk into America’s Cup defence

It’s full steam ahead for the economy, according to the latest GDP statistics and a  Finance Minister who eagerly drew attention to the new data.

Our farm industries, generally, are doing nicely, too, thank you, in spite of head winds which include a growing raft of government regulations.

But prospects of the America’s Cup being defended in this country are in the doldrums.  That’s bad news for yachting buffs (but great news for taxpayers).

GDP increased 1.6% in the first three months of 2021, much better than the Treasury forecast of a modest decline of 0.2% in May’s Budget or (with the benefit of more recent data) economic commentators’ forecast of an increase less than 1%.

Internationally, the OECD average was 0.3%.

The economy was 2.4% above where it was in the March quarter last year.

A measure of the strength of the food and fibres sector – or rather, a measure of the government’s confidence in the sector – can be discerned from two reports released at Fieldays in Mystery Creek. Continue reading “Team NZ’s rejection of public funding offer means around $100m won’t be sunk into America’s Cup defence”