Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Labour’s refocus is working

  • Dr Bryce Edwards writes –     

Labour’s shift in focus is working. Under Jacinda Ardern they were a party and government focused on the voters and ideologies of liberal Grey Lynn and Wellington Central. Now under Prime Minister Chris Hipkins Labour has a laser-like focus directed at the working class politics of places like West Auckland and the Hutt Valley. That’s the pragmatic thinking behind the bold redirection of their policy priorities towards the cost-of-living crisis.
It’s paying off in the polls. Last night’s 1News Kantar poll showed Labour in front of National again, and personal support for Hipkins escalating. His preferred prime minister ratings were up four points to 27 per cent, while rival Christopher Luxon’s were down five points to just 17 per cent.
The poll also asked the public what issue would most likely influence their vote, and 48 per cent chose “cost of living”, way ahead of climate change on only 12 per cent. This is in line with the recent Ipsos poll, which showed that a record 65 per cent believed that cost of living is the top issue for the country at the moment. Continue reading “Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Labour’s refocus is working”

BRIAN EASTON:  Gabrielle’s Trumpet challenges fiscal stability

  • Brian Easton writes –

Cyclonic Storms Raise Economic Questions.

Some years back – it was in the time of the Key-English Government so, as usual, this column is not making a party-political point – a friend working in the climate change area wondered to me whether we should be putting more effort into adaptation. Whatever New Zealand does in reducing its global emissions, it would have little impact on global warming. There was going to be some climate change anyway. Perhaps we needed to pay more attention to taking measures which would reduce its effects.

The thinking at that time was on rising sea levels and their impact on buildings and infrastructure close to the shores. (A related issue is tsunamis.) Storms were mentioned but I do not recall anybody discussing adaption policies other than for the threats from the sea. I knew, even then, that cyclones in the central Pacific were more common; I had seen a long-term record for Samoa. I do not recall any suggestions that they might move south with the intensity that Cyclone Gabrielle did – we forgot about Cyclone Bola.

Could we have mitigated Gabrielle? Lurking behind that question is the abolition of Catchment Boards when they were merged into Regional Councils 1989. We were told at the time that their task to restrain the rivers from flooding was largely over. I wonder if the residents of Esk Valley think that today. Dropping a responsibility down in the bureaucratic hierarchy often results in reducing its ability to do its job. Was this yet another example of short term gains to be offset by long term disaster? Continue reading “BRIAN EASTON:  Gabrielle’s Trumpet challenges fiscal stability”

Greenpeace attacks government on tardiness to cut farm emissions—but doesn’t NZ need all the income it can get?

At a  time  when the nation is reeling from the impact of Cyclone Gabrielle, climate change campaigner  Greenpeace  is demanding answers on why the government has yet to come up with an effective plan to cut emissions from the country’s biggest polluter.

Where’s the long-awaited plan to cut agricultural emissions? Greenpeace climate campaigner Christine Rose demands.

Prime Minister  Christopher Hipkins has been working round the clock, helping New Zealanders get back into their flood-wrecked homes. So he  might be muttering “Give me a  break”. Continue reading “Greenpeace attacks government on tardiness to cut farm emissions—but doesn’t NZ need all the income it can get?”

Karl du Fresne: A few more thoughts on Luxon, Pugh and the media – oh, and press secretaries too

The irony of the Maureen Pugh furore is that it has caused far more damage to Christopher Luxon than to Pugh.

Luxon has come out of it looking like a control freak, intolerant of any deviation from the party line.

This should surprise no one. He comes from a corporate background, and the corporate world values conformity above almost everything else. Original thinkers are seen as problematical and even threatening. Conventional men who play golf and wear suits are naturally most comfortable in the company of other conventional men who play golf and wear suits.

John Key came from a corporate background too, but of a different type: one that placed a high value on individual risk-taking. One difference between Key and Luxon is that Key, for all his faults, seemed to have more trust in his own judgment. Continue reading “Karl du Fresne: A few more thoughts on Luxon, Pugh and the media – oh, and press secretaries too”

Risks – and rewards – are high as Hipkins and his team begin the task of reconstruction

Having  declared  he  would be  “absolutely focussed” on the  cost-of-living crisis, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has another crisis even more pressing on his hands, and perhaps longer lasting, as the  country reels  under  the ravages of Cyclone  Gabrielle.

New Zealanders could scarcely  credit what they were seeing  when television news programmes  presented the visual evidence  of the damage wrought by the storm.

In the hardest-hit regions, thousands of  homes were plunged  into darkness, and  hundreds of people had to be rescued  from the roofs of  their homes  as flood waters raced  past. In Auckland  80  roads  had  to be closed. Continue reading “Risks – and rewards – are high as Hipkins and his team begin the task of reconstruction”

Farm leaders are watching whether O’Connor keeps Agriculture as the climate lobby presses for methane action

Farming leaders  are watching  closely  whether  Damien O’Connor keeps the key portfolios of Agriculture and Trade when Prime Minister Chris Hipkins  restructures his Cabinet.

O’Connor  has been one of the  few ministers during Labour’s term in office who has  won broad support for what he has done as minister, but  he  is now in his 65th year   and  the  heavy  load  he  has  carried  as minister  would have exhausted  any  but  the  fittest.

Hipkins  could be  under  pressure  from climate change lobby groups to put  a  new minister into  the Agriculture  role  to enforce tougher policies on reducing methane emissions from livestock  which make up nearly 40% of NZ’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading “Farm leaders are watching whether O’Connor keeps Agriculture as the climate lobby presses for methane action”

Reform of the WTO, food security and climate change are on the agenda as O’Connor heads for Europe

Buzz from the Beehive

Just as soon as he was back on duty, Damien O’Connor was packing his bags for a journey to Europe.

But first he announced a second dollop of dollars for flood-ravaged farmers, this time in the Wairarapa.

Government funding relief for flood-affected Wairarapa farmers and growers

The Government has extended its medium-scale classification of Cyclone Hale to the Wairarapa after assessing storm damage to the eastern coastline of the region.

 This followed his announcement last week of Government support for flood-affected Gisborne Tairāwhiti farmers and growers.

In that case the government is making up to $100,000 available to help coordinate efforts as farmers and growers recover from the heavy rain and subsequent flood damage across the East Coast region. Continue reading “Reform of the WTO, food security and climate change are on the agenda as O’Connor heads for Europe”

Fresh developments on climate  change measures in the dairy industry: a wake-up call to farmers

The NZ dairy industry faces climate change hurdles beyond the levies the Ardern government has indicated it will impose on farms. Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell drew attention to them when he told an interviewer at the Fieldays at Mystery Creek the giant dairy co-op and its farmers risk not being able to access debt funding in the future if they don’t meet banks’ sustainability expectations.

Banks are wanting to set Scope 3 carbon emissions targets, which includes emissions they are indirectly responsible for, and not meeting their expectations could result in less favourable funding rates or ultimately not being able to access funding in the future.
“That’s something that we need to be aware of but it’s not a conversation we’re having with our banks at this moment,” Hurrell said.

Over the past four years, Solagri has worked with farmers and engineers to build and refine a solar solution optimised for dairy farm operations. Solagri Energy’s capital-free solution means farmers can have an innovative state-of-the-art grid-connected solar generation system without the significant upfront cost.
“The technology is advanced, but the model is pretty simple,” says managing director Peter Saunders. “Farmers provide us with a small parcel of land, about a quarter of a hectare, where we build the solar array. “In return, they receive solar electricity generated on their own farm at a fixed price for 20 years. There is zero capital cost to the farmer, any unused power will supply the local grid.”
Solagri are currently working on the development of their battery energy management system. Having recently received Callaghan Innovation funding, they expect to have batteries as a standard part of the offering within the next 12-18 months.
“The inclusion of batteries will improve the efficiency of solar and enable us to store electricity from the grid for use in the shed during the morning milking. They will also make the farm far more energy resilient with the shed being able to continue milking when the power goes down,” says Saunders.
Point of  Order sees a link between the message Hurrell was delivering an the progress Solagri is making. At its annual meeting, Fonterra told farmer shareholders that the dairy co-operative was likely to set a target for its own Scope 3 carbon emissions, which would include its farmers as 91% of its emissions were behind the farm gate. Fonterra also warned farmers that it risks losing customers and facing trade barriers in its overseas markets if it doesn’t meet sustainability expectations. Hurrell said the co-operative’s customers were setting Scope 3 targets, and putting pressure on Fonterra to come up with its own targets.
“We’ve done a lot of work on Scope 1 and 2 at our own supply chain and now the focus needs to shift to say, what do we need to do in Scope 3,” he said.
“The risks from a customers and consumer perspective is that we may be in a situation where those customers don’t work with us, they purchase from other countries, and there are other countries that do have Scope 3 emissions targets in place in various sectors.
“Of course, there may be markets that still are open to us. But our job is to extract the best value we can and we believe that those customers and consumers that are prepared to pay will be seeking Scope 3 versus those markets that may not pay the same level of return.”
While pressure was being put on Fonterra, Hurrell said the company believed that becoming more sustainable was “the right thing to do.”
“Our job is to paint a picture of what the future looks like, from a market perspective,” he said. “We feel obliged to let them know that’s what our customers and consumers are seeking.”

Govt moves to modernise control of our meds, but wait: Māori healers can bring the Treaty (signed in 1840) into the mix

Buzz from the Beehive

Conflicts between Treaty of Waitangi demands to protect Māori healing methods and the influence of medical science on health regulators have been anticipated, as the Government introduces the Therapeutic Products Bill in Parliament.

The Bill, aimed at modernising the way medicines, medical devices and natural health products are regulated, replaces the Medicines Act 1981 and Dietary Supplements Regulations 1985 with a comprehensive regulatory regime “that is fit for the future”.

But the Treaty-twitchy government is eager to avoid the conflict that seems inevitable when  modernising the regulatory regime – to provide all New Zealanders with health products and services that are safe, high-quality, and effective – rubs up against obligations to preserve the Maori way of doing things.

Accordingly, Associate Health Minister (Māori) Peeni Henare tells us of “a new workstream” which  will consider how “rongoā” might be protected in legislation.

Rongoā is traditional Māori medicine, including herbal medicine made from plants, physical techniques such as massage, and spiritual healing.

This makes it an “alternative treatment”,  but in this country it is a Beehive-blessed and state-subsidised alternative treatment.  Continue reading “Govt moves to modernise control of our meds, but wait: Māori healers can bring the Treaty (signed in 1840) into the mix”

While the PM and O’Connor were announcing VIP visits, Mahuta was pouring out some thoughts on the wretched water bill

Buzz from the Beehive

News of the government hoovering the red carpet for VIP visits and cleaning up the environment by advancing the green cause emerged from the Beehive yesterday, including another announcement of Māori mātauranga being to the fore in the government’s conservation programme.

And there was a speech from Nanaia Mahuta which affirmed the Water Services Entities Bill is a done deal and (she expects) the bosses of the four new co-governed water entities will be appointed before the end of the year.

This means before Christmas, bearing in mind the country then goes on holiday.

The green agenda is being promoted by initiatives headed-

Faster, cheaper, better resource management law given first reading

New laws that will deliver a faster, cheaper, and better resource management system had their first reading in the House today. Continue reading “While the PM and O’Connor were announcing VIP visits, Mahuta was pouring out some thoughts on the wretched water bill”