Sio looks back to the Dawn Raids – but (more grimly) he addresses the implications for the Pacific of ocean changes

Ministers hadn’t finished their outpouring of Covid-related announcements, when Point of Order posted its update on news from The Beehive on  Friday.

Before the day was done, businesses were being reminded of a corporate welfare programme named Resurgence Support Payments, and more Covid news flowed during the weekend, including the news we will be shipping in more Pfizer vaccine from Denmark.

Two further announcements harked back to the past – the PM’s acknowledgement of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and an announcement of details of scholarships described as a goodwill gesture that follows the Government’s apology for the Dawn Raids of the 1970s.

The scholarship details were released by Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio.

But more much critical for the future of Pacific islands than governmental breast-beating about events several decades ago was the sobering information in a speech Sio delivered to South Pacific Regional Environment Programme ministers.

“The new science released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on 8 August paints an alarming picture of the projected impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable countries, including in the Pacific.

“The Kainaki II Declaration confirms the grave threat that climate change poses to the Pacific region.” Continue reading “Sio looks back to the Dawn Raids – but (more grimly) he addresses the implications for the Pacific of ocean changes”

Govt contributes $16.7m to breeding partnership to beef up cattle productivity while abating the gas emissions

More spending for science has been announced by the government and another partnership has been established to do the work.  This time the aim is to tackle the climate-change challenge.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund is contributing $6.68 million to a $16.7 million genetics programme, which aims

  • to have productivity benefits, thereby creating a competitive advantage for New Zealand beef, and
  • to lower the beef sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by delivering cows “with a smaller environmental hoof-print”.

Informing New Zealand Beef is a seven-year partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

But we wont necessarily see the hoped-for results within that time span.  Rather, O’Connor says this work

“… is expected to result in more efficient cows within the next 25 years”. Continue reading “Govt contributes $16.7m to breeding partnership to beef up cattle productivity while abating the gas emissions”

Woods reminds us she still has science among her ministerial jobs – and she dishes out $244m in grants for good measure

A big hurrah, today, for the first statement from Megan Woods as Research, Science and Innovation Minister since – let’s see.  Oh yes:  June 1.

On that occasion she announced Project Tāwhaki, a special partnership with two rūnanga in Canterbury that would

“…  rejuvenate a nationally unique environment, honour deep cultural relationships, and provide amazing opportunities to tap into the multi-billion dollar aerospace economy.”

Kaitōrete Limited and the Crown had entered into a Joint Venture partnership to purchase critical parcels of land (1,000 hectares) near Banks Peninsula. The Crown  contributed $16 million to secure the land. The Crown and the Rūnanga would each own 50 percent shares in the land and project. Continue reading “Woods reminds us she still has science among her ministerial jobs – and she dishes out $244m in grants for good measure”

There’s no escape from climate change – and NZ should brace for the tariffs imposed by our trading partners to deal with it

When a magazine as authoritative as The Economist  heads   up   its  lead  “No Safe Place” ,   even  climate  change  deniers  should  sit  up  and  take  notice.

The  Economist”  says  the  most terrible  thing   about the  spectacular scenes of  destruction that  have played out  around  the  world  over recent  weeks  is  that there  is  no  safe place  from  which  to  observe  them.

“The  ground under the German  town of Erftstadt is torn apart like tissue paper by flood  waters; Lytton in British Columbia  is  burned  from the map just a  day after setting  a freakishly  high temperature record; cars  float  like  dead fish  through the streets-turned-canals in  the Chinese  city  of Zhengzhou. All  the  world  feels  at risk,  and  most  of  it  is”.

NZ   had  its  own   headline:  “The  Buller River  recorded  largest NZ  flood  flows in  almost 100  years”.

The  Economist argues  the  extremes of  flood  and fire  are  not  going  away  but  adaptation can  lessen  their  impact.

Greenhouse gas  emissions have produced  a  planet  more  than 1 degree  warmer  than  in  pre-industrial  days. Continue reading “There’s no escape from climate change – and NZ should brace for the tariffs imposed by our trading partners to deal with it”

Climate change just got cheaper – or maybe not …

Britain’s fiscal watchdog – the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) – has some good news.  It thinks the cost for the UK of getting to zero carbon could be much less than anticipated:  

While unmitigated climate change would spell disaster, the net fiscal costs of moving to net zero emissions by 2050 could be comparatively modest.”

Under its ‘early action scenario’ government net debt would rise by a mere 20% of GDP in the years to 2050 from the current 105%.  That almost seems encouraging when compared with the near-30% of GDP increase responding to the Covid pandemic , and the roughly 50% surge which followed the global financial crisis.

Continue reading “Climate change just got cheaper – or maybe not …”

Forcing folic acid into flour (unless it’s organic) may cost taxpayers $1.6m – upgrading rail infrastructure will cost much more

The mandatory fortification of flour with folic acid – a decision which is bound to trigger expressions of dismay in some quarters – is being introduced at an estimated $1.6 million cost to taxpayers.

A modest cost, perhaps, when stacked alongside the projected savings to the health budget, but it was recorded fairly well down the government’s press statement.

The  much bigger investment of $1.3 billion in rail infrastructure was similarly buried.

Other Beehive announcements advise us that –

  •  Public sector boards are now made up of 50.9 per cent women, up from 45.7 per cent in 2017.
  • Education Minister Chris Hipkins joined 54 newly appointed Workforce Development Council (WDC) members at a launch in Wellington.
  • The government’s ideas of a Treaty partnership are a critical considerations in its Emissions Reduction Plan.
  • Medsafe has granted provisional approval of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older.

The mandatory doctoring of the flour that is a key ingredient in bread-making will follow the government’s decision to approve the addition of the B vitamin, folic acid, to non-organic bread-making wheat flour to prevent spina bifida and similar conditions. Continue reading “Forcing folic acid into flour (unless it’s organic) may cost taxpayers $1.6m – upgrading rail infrastructure will cost much more”

Climate could provide Peters and his party with a platform for warming voters and bouncing back at the next election

Peters  is   back,  the  headlines  shouted.

Well,  not  quite.  Winston Peters  may  have  stepped  into  the political  limelight  again, after  a  spell  in political  darkness – but he  and  his  party  are a  long  way  from  Parliament.   And  even  though  he  looks  fit  and  well,   can he – at the age of 76 –  find  the  spark  which  will fire  up  the  NZ  First  engine  again?

His  disciple,  Shane Jones,  is  firmly  convinced  he  can.  Furthermore, Jones believes the  party can forge a  new  crusade  out  of  the  “perfidy”  of  what  the Climate  Change  Commission is  doing  to  NZ.

Jones   sees  the  commissioners  as  “ideological  termites”,  who  hold  sway  over  the  government  with  “mad  ideas”  of the sort that could  required us all as if we  are  all  going to  ride  bikes

Jones  cites the  example  of 10,000 bikers in  Birkenhead  exerting  their power  on the  government  to build a bridge  for them over  the Auckland  harbour.

Continue reading “Climate could provide Peters and his party with a platform for warming voters and bouncing back at the next election”

Cleaning up Christchurch earthquake insurance mess “proactively” could cost the govt (or taxpayers) $313 million

Earthquakes, climate change and terrorism were embraced in press statements that flowed from the Beehive yesterday.

We learned that cleaning up an insurance mess related to the Christchurch earthquakes – it’s being done through a “proactive package” for some Southern Response policyholders – could cost $313 million if all eligible claimants apply.

Another announcement tells us about an initiative to meet the government’s climate change targets:  state agencies which are required to apply Government Procurement Rules must follow the advice in a new Procurement Guide when deciding about new buildings with an estimated value of $9 million or over.

The new Procurement Guide reflects the government’s goal to transition to a carbon neutral public service.

The private sector is being encouraged to follow the guidance for new projects, too.

And then there’s the speech by the PM to a conference on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism, which is being held in Christchurch over two days this week.

He Whenua Taurikura (the name given to it) will become an annual conference

“ .. promoting public conversation, understanding and research on radicalisation. It will look at ways to challenge hate-motivated extremist ideologies and to discuss priorities to address issues of terrorism and violent extremism”.

But let’s dip into that “proactive package”.  What’s it all about?

The Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission, David Clark, harked back to December when he announced what he calls  “a proactive package” for Southern Response Earthquake claimants who settled their claims before October 2014.

This was a response to a court  judgment in relation to Karl and Alison Dodds and offers a top-up payment to other customers in a similar situation.

Southern Response – of course – is the state-owned earthquake insurance settlement company and was responsible for settling claims by AMI policyholders after the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

The court found Southern Response had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct that misrepresented the Dodds’ insurance entitlements.

The insurer had produced two differing detailed repair/rebuild assessments, which outlined the costs of rebuilding or repairing their home, and only showed them one that did not include some costs.

The package announced by the government will affect some policyholders who are potentially part of the Ross Class Action.

Based on actuarial advice, Southern Response is including a cost of $242.5 million in its accounts, reflecting an estimate of around 75 percent take-up of the package.

Earthquake insurance

Cost of Government Southern Response proactive package released

The Government has announced the proactive package for some Southern Response policyholders could cost $313 million if all those eligible apply.

 The package will affect some policyholders who are potentially part of the Ross Class Action, Southern Response has applied to the court for confirmation that it can communicate with those policyholders about the package. This application is still making its way through the court.

Southern Response has been working with its actuaries to estimate payments likely to be made under the approved package.

“We are now in a position to release the cost estimate of the full package,” David Clark said.

Based on actuarial advice, Southern Response is including a cost of $242.5 million in its accounts, reflecting an estimate of around 75 percent take-up of the package.

State building projects

New support to reduce emissions from public building and construction projects

Government agencies are getting guidance on how to reduce carbon emissions generated by construction of new buildings.

The new Procurement Guide will help government agencies, private sector suppliers, designers, and construction and industry representatives to make the right decisions.

Agencies that are required to apply Government Procurement Rules must now apply the Procurement Guide to decisions about new buildings with an estimated value of $9 million or over.

Government agencies must now clearly record decisions about the way they choose design options. If they choose a design that is not the lowest possible carbon option to meet their project brief they must identify the reason for this, and have the decision signed off by their Chief Executive.

The new Procurement Guide reflects the government’s goal to transition to a carbon neutral public service.

The procurement practices of public service agencies have the power to influence decisions by private and community sectors when it comes to carbon-neutral and low-emission technologies, the press statement says .

And the new guide is in line with the recommendations of the Climate Change Commission’s final report issued last week.

The Guide to Reducing Carbon Emissions in Building and Construction is available online here:

Terrorism

He Whenua Taurikura: New Zealand’s first Hui on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism

The Prime Minister has opened New Zealand’s first hui on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism, which is being held in Christchurch over two days.

The conference is a response to one of the recommendations from the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain on 15 March 2019.

“He Whenua Taurikura, ‘a country at peace’, will look at how we can all contribute to making our country more inclusive and safe,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The Lead Coordination Minister for the Government’s Response to The Royal Commission’s Report into the Terrorist Attack on the Christchurch Mosques, Andrew Little, said the conference will help develop options for the National Centre of Excellence, which will focus on generating research and public discussion to prevent and counter violent extremism, understand diversity and promote social cohesion.

“Our goal is for New Zealand to be a safe country where everyone feels they belong, where all cultures and human rights are valued and celebrated, and where everyone can participate and contribute.”

Speech to inaugural Countering Terrorism Hui

This is the  PM’s speech to the survivors and family of the Shuhadah, along with representatives from our communities, academia, members of civil society, and those from the private sector, NGOs and public sector.

Covid-19 gets into most Beehive spin these days, including the Catalist Market, climate change and predator eradication

While small- and medium-sized enterprises (and many others) were grappling with the massive implications of the Climate Change Commission’s report, more agreeable news has emerged from the Beehive.

The government has granted a licence to a new share trading market, Catalist Markets Ltd, which has been described as a stock exchange for smaller companies.  It is expected to provide a simpler and more affordable ‘stepping stone’ for SMEs to raise capital.

Catalist​ chief executive Colin Magee told Stuff the NZX was only economic for larger companies, not the high-potential smaller companies Catalist would be trying to attract with an initial value of $6million to $60m.

In the first five years Catalist was aiming to get up to 200 companies, Magee said.

In time, he hoped, a portion of some KiwiSaver funds would be invested in shares in companies on the Catalist market. Continue reading “Covid-19 gets into most Beehive spin these days, including the Catalist Market, climate change and predator eradication”

Climate change crusaders press for a Budgetary assault on emissions and pests (but this might stall the Covid recovery)

Radio  NZ   is  reporting  that  climate  change  warriors have  low  expectations  the  budget  will  deliver what is  needed.  Climate lobby groups say that while the need for action to lower emissions and tackle climate change has never been greater, they doubt the government will step up.

It is being pitched as a Covid-19 recovery budget, as the world starts to emerge from 16 months focussed on battling the virus.

 Radio  NZ    quoted Victoria University climate scientist James Renwick as  saying the window for climate action was closing fast. 

“Forget 10 years to sort emissions it’s really only 18 months.  It’s this period last year and this year where governments are making investments, we’ve got to get that right – the pressure is on.” Continue reading “Climate change crusaders press for a Budgetary assault on emissions and pests (but this might stall the Covid recovery)”