Buzz from the Beehive – the PM goes batting for democracy while her Maori ministers announce more Budget boosts

Oh, look.  More goodies from the government.

Today we learn of a $10 million boost for landowners, a $27.6 million investment over the next four years in research and innovation and a $30 million investment for primary and community health care providers.

Budget 2020 is the budget that just keeps on giving.

But those announcements are competing for media attention with news that an independent assessment of stewardship land on the West Coast is delivering recommendations for revised land classifications.

“Stewardship land” is the term given for land that was allocated to DOC when it was formed in 1987 but had yet to be given a specific land classification. Panels were set up last year to reclassify stewardship land to ensure appropriate layers of protection for future generations to enjoy. Public notification will open next week on those recommendations.

But the biggie on the Beehive website today surely must be the PM’s Harvard Commencement Speech – Democracy, disinformation and kindness.  You can watch her deliver it HERE and gauge for yourself the audience’s response. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive – the PM goes batting for democracy while her Maori ministers announce more Budget boosts”

Buzz from the Beehive – or (unwittingly) is the way being paved for booze in schools to boost kids’ health and wellbeing?

The news from the Beehive has been mixed on the trade front – greater trade liberalisation with China was welcomed by Trade Minister Damien O’Connor but was countered by his announcement (alongside Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta) of significant new sanctions against Russia.

It’s a good thing our trade with China is much greater than our trade with Russia.

But the government’s general inclination to regulate rather than liberalise is reflected in its signalling a Nanny State crackdown on what our kids can drink.

It has opened a public consultation on a proposal for primary schools to offer only “healthy” drinks.  We trust they know what they are doing with this one.

We say this because alcoholic drinks are good for our health, according to some websites checked out by Point of Order. Consumption must be moderate, true, but that should apply to whatever our kids eat and drink.

Hence we look forward to our toddlers toasting each other with a cheery “good health” before they sink their daily toddies.  Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive – or (unwittingly) is the way being paved for booze in schools to boost kids’ health and wellbeing?”

The case for not ditching our vodka (as a gesture to admonish Putin) is that we might need it when Three Waters are flowing


Motivated by the Parliamentary consensus which resulted in the passage of historic sanctions legislation in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine, Point of Order has tipped out its Stolichnaya Vodka. 

Whether we should also burn the copy of The Brothers Karamazov that sits in the office book shelf is still under discussion at the PoO board table. 

Tipping out the vodka wasn’t an easy decision.  We risked doing something that would find favour with Nanaia Mahuta, whose smiles of approval we would prefer to avoid because the Three Waters programme she is dogmatically promoting is anathema to all members of the team. 

By our reckoning, the vodka is precious because it could well turn out to be cheaper than the water that flows through our taps after she has rammed her highly unpopular reforms into law.

Regardless of any price considerations (we further reasoned), we will need a stiff snifter or two for medicinal purposes to treat our depression after she has seriously watered down the country’s democratic arrangements with her co-governance plans. 

We were won over by the sentiments expressed in her press statement and by other MPs during the parliamentary debate on the new law. Continue reading “The case for not ditching our vodka (as a gesture to admonish Putin) is that we might need it when Three Waters are flowing”

Govt orders wages up and urges Kiwis out – or how to heap a burden on bosses while making escape from Ukraine a dilemma

First, there was good news for low-paid workers, although it wasn’t so good for employers.  The government announced it was raising the minimum wage 6 per cent from $20 to $21.20 an hour from April 1.

Next day, the government was issuing something it presumably regarded as good advice for New Zealanders in an overseas trouble spot, but this had a disconcerting dimension to it.

These New Zealanders were urged to get out of Ukraine fast as Russian troops amass on the border.  The snag is that getting back into New Zealand won’t be as easy as getting out of Ukraine.

The rise in the minimum wage was described by Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) chief executive Brett O’Riley as  a “kick in the guts” for many businesses.  This was ironic – he contended – because business groups had been discussing with Treasury what extra support might be available for sectors struggling with constraints imposed by the red-setting response to Covid-19.

But one business sectors probably was mollified by the news it was being given special government help. The Events Transition Support Payment scheme will be extended to 31 January 2023 and expanded to include business events.

Another sector, digital technologies, would have been distracted by the release of a draft Industry Transformation Plan for consultation. Continue reading “Govt orders wages up and urges Kiwis out – or how to heap a burden on bosses while making escape from Ukraine a dilemma”

O’Connor chuffed about NZ’s leadership on banishing fossil fuel subsidies – but the big test will be bringing the US on board

Monitoring the Ministers

The PM has been dishing out bravery awards and releasing the Government’s 2021 National Security Intelligence Priorities while Health Minister Andrew Little has been dishing out $644 million for hospital upgrades.  Or rather, he has confirmed the government will fund 36 different local hospital upgrades throughout the country and the operational costs to support them, at a total cost of $644 million  

In  one of her statements, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged the extraordinary courage of ten people recognised for acts of bravery relating to the March 15, 2019 terrorist attacks.

In the other, she said the National Security Intelligence Priorities help us to identify threats, risks, and challenges to New Zealand’s security and wellbeing, while outlining current areas of interest where intelligence can support the Government to make informed decisions.

The Priorities have been grouped into 13 overarching themes covering a range of threats and risks to New Zealand including; foreign interference and espionage, climate change and environmental issues, malicious cyber activity, terrorism and violent extremism.  

In his statement, Andrew Little announced $100 million in fast-tracked health capital projects had been confirmed, supported by $544 million operational funding

The Government will upgrade 24 local hospitals next year to support planned and routine care, to ensure non-COVID patients are safe when COVID patients are being treated.  The Programme will be rolled out alongside an international health workforce recruitment campaign.

Oh – and let’s not overlook Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s latest statement about the resilience of the economy in the face of the impact of the Delta outbreak. Continue reading “O’Connor chuffed about NZ’s leadership on banishing fossil fuel subsidies – but the big test will be bringing the US on board”

Regenerative agriculture will get funding for research by scientists – dealing with family violence brings Maori lore into play

Monitoring the ministers

Science has been to the fore in Point of Order’s considerations in recent days and it’s been high in Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor’s considerations, too.

The Government is backing two new research projects to investigate the impacts of “regenerative farming” practices.  This is a contentious issue in science circles, raising questions about  definitions and about the need for zealous champions of regenerative farming to base their arguments on New Zealand science, not on science results from countries with different conditions and farming methods.

O’Connor announced the government is contributing $2.8 million to a $3.85 million five-year project involving AgResearch with co-investment by Synlait Milk and Danone.   This aims to understand how to measure and manage soil health to boost environmental and economic performance on New Zealand farms.

The second project sees the Government contributing $2.2 million to a five-year research project aimed at boosting New Zealand farm yields by attracting beneficial insects to farms using specifically designed native planting.

On another sector front, the government is reporting on the outcomes of money invested in the past:  the construction sector is now the fourth biggest employer in the country and infrastructure activity is forecast to reach $11.2 billion in 2026.

The Minister for Building and Construction Poto Williams highlighted those points while saying the National Construction Pipeline Report 2021 released today shows the construction sector has held up well during the COVID-19 pandemic and the future outlook is positive. Continue reading “Regenerative agriculture will get funding for research by scientists – dealing with family violence brings Maori lore into play”

An Ardern govt version of bread and circuses for Pasifika people – with an app (recording our vaccine status) for all of NZ

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Latest from the Beehive

Giving citizens cheap food and entertainment – bread and circuses – helped Roman politicians gain or hold on to power.  The modern-day equivalent of the circus component of that campaigning technique is the Ardern government’s funding of sporting events – such as the America’s Cup – and festivals.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni chipped in more money today through the Pasifika Festivals Initiative, which provides $12 million over three years.

It should be noted she announced this as part of the transition into a new way of managing COVID-19 and of giving vaccinated New Zealanders more freedoms to enjoy the country’s arts and culture.

Nineteen Pasifika festivals “across the motu” are receiving funding.

“This funding will help to future-proof these festivals and support them to ride the COVID wave and withstand the immediate and sustained impacts of the pandemic.”

‘Tolu Wave’ (the name of the trough) will provide $6.7 million, up to two years’ funding for the successful recipients to hold Pasifika Festivals across the country in 2022 and 2023. Funding also includes support “for capability building to strengthen festival organisations”. Continue reading “An Ardern govt version of bread and circuses for Pasifika people – with an app (recording our vaccine status) for all of NZ”

Zero Covid is dead – official

“Government instructions to stockpile food are seldom a sign that all is well.” 

That’s how the Financial Times kicks off its editorial: Zero-Covid countries have run out of road.

Measures in support of a Covid elimination policy, like this, quickly become destructive once elimination is not possible.  The FT states bluntly:  

“Buying time made sense during the wait for vaccines.  Now, though, buying time buys nothing”.

Continue reading “Zero Covid is dead – official”

A fair go is assured when govt delivers on carbon reduction – but what about China’s coal burning and Brazil’s forest toppling?

Latest from the Beehive

It sounds very grand  – the International Just Transition Declaration (which readers can check out here.)

Its purpose, aspiring to ensure a fair go for all as governments do what must be done to deal with global warming, is worthy and New Zealand – hurrah – is a proud signatory.

Delivering a fair deal popped up in other announcements at the weekend.

The PM no doubt was aiming to deliver fairness to poor people – for example – when she announced “a suite of improvements to family support from 1 April 2022”, which will increase the incomes of 346,000 families by an average of $20 a week, lifting an estimated 6000 more children out of poverty.

Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito Williams was expounding more on being a good neighbour than fairness, perhaps, in a speech to the Tuvalu Climate Action Network happening titled “Am I not your Tuakoi – Neighbour?”

He mentioned the recent announcement by our PM that New Zealand would provide $1.3 billion in climate finance to developing countries, at least 50 per cent of this to be spent in the Pacific — our own closest neighbourhood — and at least 50 per cent on adaptation; a key Pacific priority.

Williams also said:

We are in a climate emergency. The science tells us that if countries do not act now to reduce global emissions, the costs for everyone in the future will be much greater.  No one is immune to the effects of climate change. And as our young Pacific climate change warriors have been chanting – Save the Pacific! You save the world!


And who’s going to tell China? It’s the most populous nation in the Asia-Pacific region and the world, with about 1.44 billion people, and it seems stubbornly intent on continuing to burn massive amounts of coal regardless of the grim environmental consequences.

Check out this rundown from the New York Times:

“Desperate to meet its electricity needs, China is opening up new coal production exceeding what all of Western Europe mines in a year, at a tremendous cost to the global effort to fight climate change.

“The campaign has unleashed a flurry of activity in China’s coal country. Idled mines are restarting. Cottage-sized yellow backhoes are clearing and widening roads past terraced cornfields. Long columns of bright red freight trucks are converging on the region to haul the extra cargo.

“China’s push will carry a high cost. Burning coal, already the world’s single biggest cause of human-driven climate change, will increase China’s emissions and toxic air pollution. It will endanger the lives of coal miners. And it could impose a long-term cost on the Chinese economy, even while helping short-term growth.”

But beyond the Pacific, we might stumble on a country called Brazil, which is intent on cutting down the Amazon forests inside its boundaries with the same grim determination as China is burning coal.

OpenDemocracy reports:

“It is not just the people of Brazil who will suffer in the face of their government’s smartly coordinated attack on humanity’s future. All of us, across the world, are set to suffer the consequences of the tragedy unfolding before us in the Amazon.”

And –

“If the deforestation of the Amazon continues, we will see more extreme temperatures and forest fires like the ones currently ablaze in Canada, Siberia and the western US. There will be more floods, like those seen in Turkey, China and Germany, and more droughts leading to food and water shortages as in Madagascar and Ethiopia. There will be an increase in unpredictable severe weather events, more species will suffer extinction; inequality will grow as will polarization and conflict. There will be more people displaced by climate change throughout the world. It will all be unavoidable. We will also be faced with another genocide of Indigenous peoples.”

 But hey.

Signing the International Just Transition Declaration should bring us some comfort – shouldn’t it?

Maybe not.  It’s aim (so far as we can see) is to tackle global warming fairly rather than successfully.

Announcing the good news at the weekend, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said New Zealand

“… has joined with a range of other countries and committed to a just transition to a low carbon future.”

He explained that the International Just Transition Declaration, launched at COP26 in Glasgow, acknowledges that countries must respond to the climate crisis in a way that is fair to everyone.

“The global transition to a low carbon future needs to be a fair and equitable transition that leaves no community, no family, and no person behind,” James Shaw said.

We suspect Shaw was huffing and puffing largely as a gesture for domestic consumption:

“The way previous Governments have managed periods of economic change in New Zealand has left too many families and vulnerable communities behind. This time has to be different.”  

And then we learn we are one of just 15 signatories to the declaration, along with EU Commission, UK, USA, Canada, Poland, Spain, Norway, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Italy and Belgium.

There are 195 countries in the world today, 193 of them member states of the United Nations and two (the Holy See and the State of Palestine) non-member observer states.

The EU Commission isn’t one of them.

But let’s not deny Shaw his platform for sounding important:

“Our Government has been working to build a low carbon future for Aotearoa New Zealand, where everyone has a secure income that pays enough for them to put a warm roof over their heads and food on the table. We have also established a Just Transition Unit, which was expanded in Budget 2021, and the Future of Work Forum to build resilience in those communities most affected by economic change. This work is supporting communities to plan and manage their transitions in a fair and equitable way. Signing the declaration today builds on this work.”

Shaw portended important decisions that will affect us all (with great fairness):

“The Emissions Reduction Plan we publish next year will set out how we will transition to a low carbon future in a just, inclusive and equitable way. That means transition planning with business, unions, iwi, and affected communities at the table; accessible education and training opportunities; support for working families; and making sure we fully understand the distributional impacts of climate policies on population groups.

“There is no doubt that the transition to a low carbon future is an historic opportunity – the creation of new jobs and opportunities for Kiwi businesses; lower household energy bills; a more sustainable agriculture sector; an enviable global brand; warmer, drier homes; new technologies; cost savings for businesses; and greater resilience in the face of increasing uncertainty.

“Our Government is committed to making sure we that we go about capturing these gains in a way that is fair for everyone,” James Shaw said.

A handful of other countries have made a similar commitment.

But 181 countries haven’t signed the International Just Transition Declaration.

Latest from the Beehive

Counselling support to help 24,000 young people thrive at school

The Government is funding counselling support for around 24,000 of our most vulnerable children and young people, Associate Minister of Education Jan Tinetti says.

More Mental wellbeing supports for Auckland

The Labour Government has announced a new mental wellbeing package for Aucklanders experiencing mental distress to get support when they need it.

90 percent first dose target reached in Auckland

Counties Manukau DHB has reached 90 percent first doses today, meaning all three Auckland DHBs have now crossed the 90 percent threshold for first doses, a key milestone on the path to Auckland opening up.

Incomes lifted for 346,000 families

In a suite of improvements to family support from 1 April 2022 the Government is increasing the incomes of 346,000 families by an average of $20 a week; lifting an estimated 6000 more children out of poverty.

Social Development and Employment


Am I not your neighbour? – Speech to the Tuvalu Climate Action Network event at COP26

Tēnā koutou katoa, Talofa Tuvalu, Soifua manuia i le paia lasilasi ua aofaga potopoto, and Warm Pacific Greetings to one and all.

NZ commits to a just transition

New Zealand has joined with a range of other countries and committed to a just transition to a low carbon future, the Minister of Climate Change James Shaw announced today.

The govt has changed direction on Covid-19 – and today Ardern’s ministers are waltzing into global and transport issues

Just two weeks ago the prime minister was standing in the Beehive theatrette to tell the country the government was still aiming to return to zero cases.   This week she was promising a phased end to Covid restrictions in Auckland, under a three-step plan, which moves away from the current elimination strategy.    

She acknowledged the elimination strategy was coming to an end, saying it had served New Zealand well.

Since then, the PM has said Cabinet has agreed to the use of vaccine certificates in New Zealand as a tool in high-risk settings including large events and the government is consulting on their use in places like hospitality.

According to Stuff, Ardern today will announce plans to roll out Covid testing much more widely, on the strength of a report from Professor David Murdoch, of Otago University, who leads the Government’s testing advisory group.

Ardern is reported to have said his work will form the basis of “a new rigorous testing regime that will be central to our strategy to control the virus” over coming months. 

And about time, too, ACT leader David Seymour huffed: Continue reading “The govt has changed direction on Covid-19 – and today Ardern’s ministers are waltzing into global and transport issues”