Relaxed visa rules – a portent (perhaps) of importing teachers and health workers to replace those who eschew vaccination

The big moment came as we had hoped, roughly this time yesterday, and the PM delivered her news on Cabinet’s review of alert level settings in Auckland, Waikato and Northland.  Chris Hipkins, the Minister in charge of the response to Covid-19, then announced the Cabinet’s decisions to make vaccination mandatory for large parts of the education and health workforce.

The news from the PM was disappointing for Aucklanders.  Their level-3 Covid restrictions have been extended for another week and students will not return to class next Monday

Waikato and Northland became subject to tentative plans to be lowered to from level 3 – to level 2 – from 11.59pm on Thursday.

Then Hipkins announced a toughening of the vaccination regimen:

  • High-risk workers in the health and disability sector must be fully vaccinated by 1 December and receive their first dose by 30 October
  • School and early learning staff and support people who have contact with children and students to be fully vaccinated by 1 January, 2022, and receive their first dose by 15 November.

Continue reading “Relaxed visa rules – a portent (perhaps) of importing teachers and health workers to replace those who eschew vaccination”

More govt money for recreation, conservation and vaccination – too bad about the lift in interest rates

More than $17 million in government spending (by our count) was declared in two of the latest batch of ministerial announcements.  The costs involved in other announcements weren’t mentioned in the press statements.

Grant Robertson exchanged his Finance hat (a portfolio requiring him to maintain some sort of fiscal discipline) for his Sport and Recreation hat to announce the Government is providing $5.3 million to assist sport and recreation organisations in the Auckland region financially affected by the latest lockdown.

Compensation for government decisions to severely constrain economic activity in the Auckland region, in other words

We imagined Robertson would have been preoccupied with examining the ramifications of the Reserve Bank decision to raise the official cash rate to 0.5 per cent today.

His political opponents most certainly were making a noise about it.

National’s Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayly said the Government’s failure to rollout the vaccine and prepare our Covid defences had resulted in the Reserve Bank having to make this decision in the middle of lockdown, even though it is “incredibly risky for the economy”.

He said:

“Obviously, the Reserve Bank has seen that the cost of living is rising too quickly, and its hand has been forced. This has been exacerbated by huge amounts of wasteful, untargeted spending from the Government on matters entirely unrelated to the Covid response.”

Fair to say, Robertson’s handout of money was related to the Covid response.  Continue reading “More govt money for recreation, conservation and vaccination – too bad about the lift in interest rates”

Allan spends for the future, Little hires more advisers and Shaw sets out a time line for emissions reductions

The reassuring headline on a press statement from the Minister of Conservation said Projects create benefits into the future.

Ah – a forward-looking government, obviously.

The spending of $12,997,000 of public money on the projects listed in the press statement, accordingly, has been calculated to generate future benefits.  But come to think of it, in what other direction could the benefits be created?  Benefits into the past?

Elsewhere in the Beehive, Andrew Little was adding to the small army of advisors he is building within one of his portfolios.

He is adding four members to the outfit named Kāpuia, the Ministerial Advisory Group on the Government’s Response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch mosques.

The group is made up of 32 members from across New Zealand, including affected family survivors and witnesses, representative communities, civil society, local government and the private sector.

Before long this group will be as big as the SIS workforce, we uncharitably mused at Point of Order, although a check with the SIS’s 2020 annual report showed this was somewhat fanciful: as of 30 June 2020 the NZSIS had 366.5 full time equivalent staff.

Little’s advisory team nevertheless is bigger than the Ardern Cabinet, which has 20 ministers. Continue reading “Allan spends for the future, Little hires more advisers and Shaw sets out a time line for emissions reductions”

Damien O’Connor appoints trade advisory group – this one is much smaller than the predecessor appointed by Parker

Oh look – another advisory group to keep its minister and the public up with the play on trade policy matters.

As our Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O’Connor has appointed a Trade for All Ministerial Advisory Group “to help chart the course for New Zealand trade policy”.

This group’s establishment follows on from the work completed by the Trade for All Advisory Board in 2019.

The difference is that the earlier group – appointed in 2018, when David Parker had the portfolio – comprised 23 members.  The new group comprises 13 members, which is good for the budget no matter what else it might accomplish.

Its announcement was included among the latest Beehive press releases:

Latest from the Beehive

The discovery of rare, long-tail bats/pekapeka near Franz Josef for the first time in decades is exciting proof that the Government’s Jobs for Nature and predator free programmes are getting results, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.

Significant progress is being made on new infrastructure at Mt Aspiring College for present and future students and teachers, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.

Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor has appointed a Trade for All Ministerial Advisory Group to help chart the course for New Zealand trade policy. Continue reading “Damien O’Connor appoints trade advisory group – this one is much smaller than the predecessor appointed by Parker”

Was that the Nashing of teeth we heard, as Amazon announced our sweeteners weren’t enough to keep Tolkien blockbuster in NZ?

While the PM and her team were setting out their programme to reconnect us with the rest of the world, Amazon was advising the government of its plans to pull the plug  – both from our film-making facilities and from the government’s generous subsidies.

And whereas yesterday’s “Latest from the Beehive” posts included two speeches and a press statement on (eventually) the reopening of our borders, today’s posts include news of the Government’s response to Amazon’s withdrawal.

Amazon’s decision was reported more than 12 hours ago by The Guardian (which wasn’t necessarily the first to break the news).

Amazon has made the surprise decision to move production of its $1bn-plus Lord of the Rings series from New Zealand to the UK, rejecting tens of millions of dollars in incentives to shoot the TV show in the same location as the blockbuster films.

And:

The government was informed of Amazon’s decision to pull out of New Zealand on Thursday. The economic development minister Stuart Nash said it was disappointing, especially for the local film industry.

Maybe our disinclination to reconnect with the world just yet was a factor in Amazon’s decision to disconnect.

The Guardian says:

One additional factor is the strict Covid policies that continue to operate in New Zealand, which Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister, said would mean the country’s borders would effectively remain closed until the end of the year.

Any time a member of the cast or crew left the country – roughly half the cast is from the UK – they would have to quarantine for 14 days and there are limits on how many people can leave the production at any given time.

It looks like a big setback the wellbeing for our film industry.

But Nash has gone on the front foot, as you can see from the most recent posting (at time of writing) of press releases on The Beehive website:

Latest from the Beehive

The Lord of the Rings season two

The New Zealand Government will no longer proceed with part of the deal to support the Lord of the Rings TV Series, following the decision by Amazon Studios to shift production of future seasons to the United Kingdom.

Other recent Beehive posts tell us …

Prison Kapa Haka a great success

After six weeks of performances across New Zealand prisons, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis has congratulated Tongariro Prison as the overall winner of the 2021 Hōkai Rangi Whakataetae Kapa Haka.

 Opening comments for Reconnecting New Zealanders to the World Forum

Today we will be discussing some of the big questions facing us as we continue to protect New Zealanders against COVID-19, while at the same time preparing to gradually and safely reopen to the world.

Government sets out plan to reconnect New Zealanders to the world

The Government will use the second half of 2021 to vaccinate as many New Zealanders as possible and safely conduct a self-isolation trial for vaccinated New Zealanders in order to prepare for a phased resumption of quarantine-free travel, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

Speech to Reconnecting New Zealanders to the World Forum

I want to start by thanking Professor Skegg and your group of experts for the important scientific contribution you have made to this discussion and the Government’s decision making about reopening our borders.

Big tick for Taranaki taonga species

Projects aimed at protecting taonga species, including kiwi, kokako and hihi, are among a number of Taranaki-based initiatives receiving a boost through the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme, Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan says.

Community Housing Providers to get upfront funding to deliver new builds faster

Community Housing Providers (CHP) will now to be able to access up-front funding in the early stages of new build developments to help bring on more public housing at pace, the Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods has announced following a roundtable of CHP leaders in Wellington last night.

By now the government’s border-opening programme has become the subject of nation-wide discussion and debate through other media.

Point of Order today will focus, rather, on the announcement that the government will no longer proceed with part of the deal to support the Lord of the Rings TV Series.

That’ll show ’em, eh?

Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash said he was disappointed by the decision.

“Amazon Studios advised that post-production work on Season One will continue in New Zealand till June 2022. However, Season Two will be filmed in the UK as part of a strategy by the studio to expand its production space and consolidate its footprint in the UK.

“I am enormously proud of the New Zealand screen sector. The Amazon Studios’ decision in no way reflects the capabilities of our local film industry or the talents of the people who work in it. This is a multi-national company that has made a commercial choice.

“With Season One, the New Zealand screen sector has proven its reputation for offering a world-class workforce, globally competitive sound stages and post-production facilities, and a safe destination with outstanding scenery and friendly and welcoming people.”

Nash then got down to business:

“The previously agreed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Amazon Studios will no longer proceed in its current form. The five percent incentive previously offered on top of the standard 20 percent rebate for all international film productions is withdrawn.”

Amazon Studios – like every other international production – is eligible for a 20 per cent rebate on its qualifying production expenditure in this country, under the terms of the International Screen Production Grant.

Amazon Studios’ qualifying local expenditure is estimated to total around $663.74 million so it could potentially be eligible for a $132 million rebate under the 20 per cent rule.

“The international film sector is incredibly competitive and highly mobile. We have no regrets about giving this production our best shot with government support. However, we are disappointed for the local screen industry. Work will continue across government on ways to keep supporting the sector,” Stuart Nash said.

Which means work will continue to find other financial lures to bring the movie moguls to this country.

Now let’s check out The Guardian’s account of what has happened.

The newspaper  says Amazon, which four years ago paid $250m to secure the TV rights to JRR Tolkien’s works after founder Jeff Bezos demanded a Game of Thrones-style hit for its streaming service, chose to film the first series in New Zealand after competitive bids from around the world.

But whereas we Kiwis like to believe this country is the land of the Hobbit, the descendants of Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien have other ideas:

It is understood that the Tolkien estate had been keen for the series to be shot in the UK, the land that inspired JRR Tolkien’s original books, although did not have any right to determine the TV production’s location.

Production will continue in New Zealand until June next year with the premiere of the first series, which has reportedly cost $465m, scheduled for 2 September next year.

The Guardian notes that the production has not been without controversy in New Zealand.

Earlier this year, the government had to defend its deal with Amazon Studios following criticism that it was ‘bending over backwards’ for one of the richest companies in the world, by offering it multimillion dollar rebates to bring its production to the country.

The UK offers attractive rebates for TV series that cost more than $1m an episode to shoot and is the home of many high-profile Amazon productions.

The New Zealand Film Commission chief executive David Strong said the Amazon production had employed nearly 2,000 New Zealanders.

“It’s a shame and I feel for everyone who has put their hearts into this production. Season two was expected to begin later in 2022, so our role now is to work hard to keep the Kiwi screen sector employed.”

 Strong said the Studio’s departure will open up avenues for other international productions to shoot in New Zealand.

 

 

 

Govt plaudits for Lisa Carrington shouldn’t bother the public – whitebaiters won’t be so chuffed about new regulations

Ministers sometimes can bask in the satisfaction of releasing a press statement which is unlikely to provoke political opponents to find fault with the announcement or anger some sections of the community.

Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson issued such a statement yesterday, when he congratulated New Zealand Olympic kayaker Lisa Carrington on her exceptional performance at the Tokyo Olympics which has led to her becoming the most decorated New Zealand Olympian.

“Lisa is a phenomenal athlete. To win the K1 200m three Olympics in a row, and to add both the K2 500 gold with Caitlyn Regal earlier this week and the K1 500 gold today is an exceptional effort. She is tough, resilient and remarkable, and deservedly the most decorated New Zealand Olympian,” Grant Robertson said.

He also congratulated the New Zealand Olympic Team for its outstanding performance in these Olympics. With a total of 17 medals so far, including a record number of seven Gold medals, they are on the road to a possible record medal haul.

Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan, on the other hand, is bound to have rankled whitebaiters with her announcement that the 2021 whitebaiting season is about to kick off with new regulations in place to help ensure a healthy future for the fishery.

The Games seem to have inspired other ministerial announcements. Continue reading “Govt plaudits for Lisa Carrington shouldn’t bother the public – whitebaiters won’t be so chuffed about new regulations”

Aucklanders will fund the expansion of the screen industry as ratepayers (via their city council) and taxpayers

Aucklanders will be chuffed to learn the film studios they own as ratepayers are to be given a share of the millions of dollars the government is eager to pour into the film industry.

Mind you, they mightn’t be so chuffed to learn they will be financing the expansion  of the studios as taxpayers and as ratepayers.

Auckland Film Studios, in West Auckland, has received funding for a major expansion through the Government’s Infrastructure Reference Group’s (IRG) COVID-19 Response Fund.

The Government is investing $30 million of a total $35 million project to construct two 2,000sqm sound stages and development of further workshops and offices, to expand capacity at the Auckland Council-owned studios in Henderson.

The project will be undertaken by Auckland Unlimited Limited, the region’s economic development agency, with co-funding provided by Auckland Council.

Social Development and Employment Minister had the privilege of joining Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash in making the announcement and providing the rationale:

“Our screen industry employs around 16,200 people and contributes $3.3b to GDP per year,” she said… 

And:

“This development will see a material increase in the number of purpose-built sound stages available in New Zealand and increase our capacity to produce more content for domestic and international audiences.

“It is also a significant investment for Henderson and the wider Auckland region, creating more employment opportunities in the area. This includes 100 initial construction jobs, as well as up to 300 new jobs in the screen sector when the stages are completed next year.

“It will also provide more creative opportunities for New Zealanders in the film and television industries which will help them realise their potential here at home,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

She thus joined the cast of government politicians of all stripes whose critical faculties perhaps become bedazzled by the floodlights when the question of propping up movie moguls as well as smaller film makers is examined.

The  government pays out millions of dollars in subsidies to the screen industry every year.  The question is whether this money should be spent elsewhere.

In February last year, Matt Nippert in the NZ Herald revealed that Sir Peter Jackson’s Wellington-based Weta Group was receiving more than $40 million of the annual sum.

The Government insists this spending is beneficial to New Zealand, especially for the country’s tourism industry.

New Zealand Initiative economist Eric Crampton challenged this:

“What we’re not seeing are the other industries that might be here employing people instead if we didn’t have massive subsidies going into the film sector and diverting people into those areas,” Mr Crampton told TVNZ 1’s Breakfast.

“It’s hard to imagine any industry in the country that wouldn’t argue that if they could just get a 20 per cent rebate on everything that they spend in the country with opportunity for another five per cent back if they can show that there is enough benefit to New Zealand – every industry would love to have that kind of arrangement,” he says.

“It just feels a bit odd that we’re giving, according to Nippert’s findings, as much money to Weta Workshop as were giving to Radio New Zealand a public broadcaster,” he says.

Crampton said around $170 million was spent in subsidies to international films.

He noted that other industries are affected because they can’t get the people they need in the right jobs.

He cited the video game industry, which had been complaining it couldn’t get workers “because they’re all being sucked in to video animation in the subsidised film industry,”

The PM – of course – disagreed.

But if the TV One report gave a full account of everything she told them on the subject, her support for the subsidies is rooted in belief and on hearsay:

She says she believes the flow on affect of the film sector is worth it for New Zealand. 

“You ask anyone who works in the industry whether or not it makes a difference… the flow on affect is huge,” the Prime Minister said today.

“The film industry is completely unique.”

A few months later, Stuff alerted its readers to a Treasury warning that New Zealand taxpayers must fork out $1 billion in subsidies to the film industry in the next five years  – money the Government will have to find by ratcheting down new spending in other departments.

Despite these eye-watering costs, Finance Minister Grant Robertson is happy with the scheme, saying it’s the cost of having a film industry.

A large portion of the subsidising would ease the cost of the Lord of the Rings TV adaptation, made by Amazon Studios, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, the world’s second richest person.

The author of the Stuff, report, Thomas Coughlan, noted:

This massive cost is because the subsidy scheme is uncapped, meaning there’s no limit on the amount of money the Government would have to hand over.

He referenced a repetition of Treasury’s warning in the Government’s December forecasts in 2020, although again no specific sum was mentioned.

And he mentioned the answer to a Written Parliamentary Question from ACT deputy leader Brooke van Velden from Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash, who acknowledged Treasury was forecasting the Government to be on the hook for $1 billion dollars from 2021 to 2025, “or an average of $200 million per annum”.

“This fiscal forecast includes an estimate of expenditure based on known productions including the Lord of the Rings television series and Avatar sequels,” Nash said.

It was also expected to attract an estimated $4.4b of international production spend into the New Zealand economy.

Coughlan reported that the subsidies have run massively over the budget envisaged just a few years earlier.

In 2017 the scheme was given $55m a year for the years 2017-2021. But by 2019, the scheme already required topping up. An extra $155m was approved for the rest of that year – and a further $206m was approved in the 2020 Budget.

Nash said the scheme had baseline funding of $50.6m a year going forward.

But every dollar above that must drain new budgets.

This means that each year Robertson will have to find about $150m extra for the scheme and each dollar will have to come at the cost of increasing spending somewhere else.

These trade-offs will be significant; In the 2020 Budget, all new spending in the Education portfolio totalled $165.2m.

Film subsidies, however, were given $185m for the same year – $140m for films from overseas companies, and $45m for local productions.

Robertson said he was comfortable with the pressures and trade-offs that the subsidy required him to make.

“Once you’re into the game of film subsidies you have to be in it – the rest of the world is in it and if you want a film industry this is part of the price you pay.”

Earlier this year, the public learned of the government sweetening its deal with  Amazon for filming the Lord of the Rings TV series in New Zealand.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding Amazon will get an extra 5 percent from the Screen Production Grant in addition to the 20 percent grant the production already qualifies for.

Amazon plans to spend about $650 million on season one of the show meaning it would be eligible for a rebate of over $160m.

 Auckland will soon be better able to bid for  a slice of the action.

Latest from the Beehive

The Economy

 Wages up, unemployment down

The Government’s efforts to secure the recovery has seen more Kiwis in jobs and higher wages, with unemployment falling to pre-COVID levels and more people in work.   
Stats NZ figures show unemployment rate fell to 4 percent in the June quarter from 4.6 percent in the March quarter, the lowest rate since December 2019. This compares with The Treasury’s Half year Economic and Fiscal Update forecast unemployment rate of 5.2 percent.

Employment rose by 28,000 in the quarter, and the total number of people in work is now 63,000 above where it was in the December 2019 quarter before COVID.

The average hourly wage rose 4 percent to $34.76 an hour, compared with a 3.3 percent rise in inflation, meaning more money in New Zealander’s back pockets.

“This positive result shows the Government’s plan is delivering, giving households and businesses the confidence to spend and invest and accelerate the recovery. An extra 63,000 people are in jobs since September 2020, when unemployment peaked at 5.2 percent,” Grant Robertson said.

Obituary 

Poroporoaki: Dr Kihi Ngatai OSM

Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui and Ngāti Pukenga mourn the loss of a Māori horticultural pioneer, with the passing of Dr Kihi Ngatai OSM.

Along with his late wife Maria, the couple planted the first kiwifruit vines in the Tauranga region more than 40 years ago.

“He was a true visionary and will be sadly missed by his whānau and the wider community,” said Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson.

 Screen industry

Government support screen industry with funding for sound stages in West Auckland

Auckland Film Studios in West Auckland has received funding for a major expansion through the Government’s Infrastructure Reference Group’s (IRG) COVID-19 Response Fund.

The Government is investing $30 million of a total $35 million project to construct two 2,000sqm sound stages and development of further workshops and offices, to expand capacity at the Auckland Council-owned studios in Henderson.

The project will be undertaken by Auckland Unlimited Limited, the region’s economic development agency, with co-funding provided by Auckland Council.

Conservation

Protecting unique land for generation next

An $8 million investment over four years will result in Queen Elizabeth II National Trust work with government agencies, councils and others to provide legal protection of Jobs for Nature-funded projects through Open Space Covenants.

That will ensure the biodiversity gains from the Crown’s investment in Jobs for Nature are protected and sustained on private land and allows QEII to legally protect hundreds of hectares of private land with high biodiversity value, Sonservation Minister Kiri Allan said.

An Open Space Covenant is an agreement between QEII and a landowner to protect an area forever. The landowner continues to own and manage the protected land, and the covenant and protection stays on the land, even when the property is sold to a new owner. QEII drafts the legal documents, pays for survey costs and shares the cost of fencing with the landowner, often alongside a contribution from another agency like the regional council.

A new form of legal protection, at this stage called a restoration agreement, will also be developed for Jobs for Nature projects that do not have strong enough existing biodiversity values to meet the Open Space Covenant criteria. Such an agreement may be more suitable for native revegetation or wetland restoration projects.

Fiji 

New Zealand’s support for Fiji’s COVID-19 response continues with vaccine delivery, operational support

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced further support for Fiji, including funding support for nursing staff and 100,000 doses of vaccines due to arrive in country yesterday.

New Zealand has funded 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine directly from the Spanish government in order to meet Fiji’s immediate vaccine requirements.

Earlier this year New Zealand committed to providing up to 500,000 doses of vaccine to support Fiji’s rollout. Fiji’s vaccination programme is progressing well with 25% now fully vaccinated, and first doses provided to 82% of the population

New Zealand is also funding the recruitment of 190 Fiji graduate nurses, for a three month period, to provide surge capacity across the health system including at Fiji’s isolation facilities.

Not all the millions offered by the Ardern govt have been accepted – let’s see how it fares with new law on aversion therapy

Several million dollars have been dished out for projects to build schools, control wilding pine control and what-have-you.

Nurses – on the other hand – have turned down the money they were offered.

In their case,  Health Minister Andrew Little is obviously bemused and frustrated.  

He was advised last night that Nurses Organisation members had voted to reject the latest proposal to settle their collective agreement.

“Let me be clear: the proposal was one they put to the Government. The Nurses Organisation rejected their own proposal,” he huffed this morning. 

We don’t expect the rejection of these announcements: Continue reading “Not all the millions offered by the Ardern govt have been accepted – let’s see how it fares with new law on aversion therapy”

Not all workers will benefit from new sick leave entitlements – and only some projects are favoured with Jobs for Nature funding

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood is braying about new labour legislation “bringing benefits to both businesses and employees” and “delivering on a key manifesto commitment to help Kiwis and workplaces stay healthy”.

Actually, employers are doing the delivering.  If they don’t deliver, it is fair to suppose, they risk being prosecuted for breaking the law which – from today – doubles minimum sick leave entitlements from five to 10 days.

Mind you, as Wood, points out, employers benefit too:

“Having a healthy and well-rested workforce also helps businesses. Studies have suggested that people working while sick are 20 per cent less productive and the healthiest workers are up to three times more productive.”

On the other hand, not all workers will benefit.  Sick leave is available ONLY after six months of continuous employment.

Similarly, not everyone stands to benefit from the government funding provided under the Jobs for Nature programme.

Conservation Minister Kiri Allen has announced $14.9 million Jobs for Nature funding is being invested in “several projects” which “will create much-needed jobs and financial security for families in TeTairāwhiti”.

Four projects, actually, and each of them is being led by local tribes. This suggests race was a significant factor in determining who got money and who didn’t. Continue reading “Not all workers will benefit from new sick leave entitlements – and only some projects are favoured with Jobs for Nature funding”

While Hipkins gets more vaccine for war on Covid-19, Little fires verbal shots to stem cyber attacks (but China is riled by “smear”)

The government was battling on several fronts yesterday, just a few weeks after Defence Minister Peeni Henare acknowledged a $20 billion spend-up on defence had become a casualty of budgetary measures to deal with Covid-19 and its consequences.

The Defence budget was now much tighter, and defence would look different under Labour than it did under its coalition with New Zealand First, he said.

No matter.  A well-armed defence force is not all we require to keep us safe, keep our enemies at bay, or fight the wars the government wants to wage.

The Department of Conservation’s war is against predators and Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says the government is throwing $4 million into a project aimed at eradicating predators from the three main peninsulas in the Bay of Islands.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, in the vanguard of the war against the pandemic, has been freshly supplied to fortify our defences against Covid-19.  The largest shipment of the Pfizer vaccine to date has arrived in New Zealand two days ahead of schedule.

Doses are being delivered to vaccination centres around the country.

On the diplomatic front, Phil Twyford, our Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control, addressed a bunch of diplomats to spell out the government’s position on disarmament and weapons control.

Success with this policy – the disarming of all foes and potential foes and a global declaration of a commitment to eternal world peace- obviously would enable the government to cut its Defence budget back to zero.

But as we learned from Andrew Little, Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau, we have more to worry about than the firepower other countries might bring to bear against us. Continue reading “While Hipkins gets more vaccine for war on Covid-19, Little fires verbal shots to stem cyber attacks (but China is riled by “smear”)”