Plenty of numbers amplify the Beehive’s braying but farmers find fault with EU trade deal and RBNZ appointments are challenged

Buzz from the Beehive

Numbers, quotas and ratios have been high in ministerial considerations over the past 24 hours or so.

Export revenue to the EU will grow by up to $1.8 billion annually on full implementation of the trade deal being ballyhooed by the PM and her Trade Minister.

More than 57,000 light-electric and Non Plug-in Hybrid vehicles were registered in the first year of operation of the Government’s Clean Car Discount Scheme, the most on record, Transport Minister Michael Wood brayed.

Seventy new constables heading for the frontline after Police wing 355 graduated in Porirua brought the total number of new officers since Labour took office to 3,303, Police Minister Chris Hipkins boasted.

A number – or quota – that seems to have been important  to Finance Minister Grant Robertson is not immediately apparent.  But a cursory reading of the CVs of his new appointments to the board of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand suggests he was aiming for co-governance – or a balance of Maori-non-Maori directors. Three of the seven appointees have tribal affiliations.  A fourth is a director on the Ngai Tahu board. Continue reading “Plenty of numbers amplify the Beehive’s braying but farmers find fault with EU trade deal and RBNZ appointments are challenged”

Flexing the state’s muscle: Māori ministers are admiring as the media are mobilised to inform the masses about Matariki

Buzz from the Beehive

The state is flexing its muscle in the building and supermarket industries.

In the building industry the intervention can be criticised as long overdue and unlikely to do much good any time soon to remedy a crippling shortage of plasterboard.

A Ministerial taskforce has been set up to look at what more can be done to ease the  shortage, including the potential for legislative or regulatory change.

In the supermarket business, the muscle-flexing has been announced in robust language – the press statement is headed Commerce Commission empowered to crackdown on covenants.

The Commerce Commission will be enabled to require supermarkets to hand over information regarding contracts, arrangements and land covenants which make it difficult for competing retailers to set up shop.

A much more troubling sign of the state flexing its muscle can be found in a statement jointly released by  Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson and Māori Crown Relations Te Arawhiti Minister Kelvin Davis.  Their lark is the mobilising of the media for an exercise in mass education – or is it indoctrination? Continue reading “Flexing the state’s muscle: Māori ministers are admiring as the media are mobilised to inform the masses about Matariki”

Rwanda travel plans for UK deportees are stymied but Prince Charles is headed there – and Nanaia Mahuta is going, too

Buzz from the Beehive

Rwanda is back in the headlines, not only for the role it is playing in the British Government’s  highly controversial plans for ridding their country of asylum seekers (the first deportation flight was cancelled after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights, which decided there was “a real risk of irreversible harm’’ to the asylum seekers involved).

The Central African country is also embroiled in a dispute with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, each country accusing the other of firing rockets across their shared border.

According to Al Jazeera,

“This seems to have been triggered by fighting between the M23 rebel group and state forces in the country’s east.

“Both Congo and the United Nations have accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 movement.” Continue reading “Rwanda travel plans for UK deportees are stymied but Prince Charles is headed there – and Nanaia Mahuta is going, too”

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare’s $880m sales of hospital hardware over the past two years deserves NZ’s plaudits

New Zealand’s biggest company by  capitalisation  on the  NZX, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare which  sells  its  products in  120  countries, has  supplied $880 million of hospital hardware over the past two years.  That’s the equivalent of about 10 years’ hardware sales before COVID-19.

This  remarkable performance deserves  the  plaudits  of  all New  Zealanders.

And  as a  company  which spends nearly  10%  of  its revenue  on research it has  new products coming  on the market.

CEO Lewis  Gradon  (surely he  deserves a knighthood) says the growing body of evidence supporting the use of nasal high flow and  other respiratory therapies shows that its products have a clear role to play in improving care and outcomes beyond COVID-19 patients.

“We have a proven fifty-year track record of changing clinical practice and now we have the additional benefit of customers already having our hardware and clinical experience with its use.” Continue reading “Fisher & Paykel Healthcare’s $880m sales of hospital hardware over the past two years deserves NZ’s plaudits”

Buzz from the Beehive: O’Connor should win farmer plaudits for action against Canada but lose them for new high-country law

Our ministers have been variously focused on issues involving New Zealand’s foreign relationships – a rebuke for Russia, Covid vaccines for poorer countries and the pursuit of a trade dispute with Canada – and the regulation of activities in space.

Coming back to earth in the high country, legislation has been passed to overhaul the management of 1.2 million hectares of Crown pastoral land.

On the Covid front, the government is providing an updated My Vaccine Pass from 24 May, has  released data on Government funding dished out to support organisations, jobs and livelihoods in the arts and culture sector, and is updating its Care in the Community response as the number of households needing support to safely self-isolate with COVID-19 reduces.

As Land Information Minister, Damien O’Connor can expect criticism  from high country farmers after the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill passed its third reading (visit the Parliament website).

The Nats say they will repeal the changes effected by the new law in its next term of government, maintaining they effectively end a decades-old relationship between the Crown and high country pastoral leaseholders.

Leaseholders who have been effective custodians of this land for generations will be subjected to a punitive regime devoid of any knowledge of practical implementation, the Nats say.  Environmental outcomes worsen rather than improve.

As Trade and Export Growth Minister, on the other hand, O’Connor is behind New Zealand’s initiation of dispute settlement proceedings against Canada regarding its implementation of dairy tariff rate quotas (TRQs) under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

New Zealand considers Canada’s dairy TRQs to be inconsistent with its obligations under CPTPP, impeding New Zealand exporters from fully benefiting from the market access that was negotiated under the agreement.

Latest from the Beehive

13 MAY 2022

Aotearoa New Zealand provides further funding for global COVID-19 response

Aotearoa New Zealand is providing more funding to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator for global efforts to respond to the pandemic.

Updated My Vaccine Pass for those who want it

New Zealanders who are up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations will be able to download an updated My Vaccine Pass from 24 May.

Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill passes third reading

New legislation to modernise the management of 1.2 million hectares of Crown pastoral land primarily in the South Island high country was passed in Parliament today.

Aotearoa New Zealand condemns Russia’s malicious cyber activity against Ukraine

Aotearoa New Zealand strongly condemns the campaign of destructive cyber activity by Russia against Ukraine, alongside the EU and international partners, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.

Next steps signalled for space activity laws

The Government has released a review of the operation and effectiveness of the law controlling commercial space activities, and signalled a separate study on wider issues of space policy will begin later this year.

New Zealand initiates dispute settlement proceedings against Canada’s implementation of dairy quotas under CPTPP

New Zealand has initiated dispute settlement proceedings against Canada regarding its implementation of dairy tariff rate quotas (TRQs) under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Care in the Community pivots as NZ returns to greater normality

The Government is updating its Care in the Community (CiC) response as the number of households needing support to safely self-isolate with COVID-19 reduces.

Government’s support delivers path to recovery for arts and culture sector

The Government has today released data for three key Government support funds which were designed to support organisations, jobs and peoples livelihoods in the arts and culture sector.

Buzz from the Beehive – Truants are being encouraged back to the classroom (to learn how to spell ‘programme’ and scrap hyphens?)

Now that it has set about implementing a de-colonialising  curriculum on subjects such as science and history, the government is determined to get more kids into classes to lap up the new doctrine.  

It has declared a commitment to improving student attendance at school and “kura” (which is a school) in a pre-Budget announcement from Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti.  

The declaration was among several  ministerial statements posted on the Beehive website over the past few days, including a speech by the PM to a business audience.

Hipkins said a regional response fund of $40 million over four years is being established to meet local education needs, with a strong initial focus on ensuring students are going to school and are engaged in their learning.  

Perhaps parents should go back to school, too, to grapple with the jargon of the Ardern government ideologues in their promotion of separatism or partnership, depending on your doctrinal inclinations. 

Funds will be provided through “Te Mahau”, which (said Hipkins)

“… works closely with the sector and communities, as well as hapū and iwi to ensure frontline support is getting where it needs to in the way it needs to.”

Thus hapū and iwi are separated from the school sector and communities.

 Te Mahau is a comparatively recent addition to the English-Te Reo hybrid language that has become the Ardern government’s argot.  A ministry explanation says:

Te Mahau is the new name for what has previously been referred to as an Education Service Agency (ESA).

And what’s the problem with Education Service Agency?  A teeny minority of the population might not know what it means or what it might do.

It may be that parents also have to go back to school to learn the American spelling that Hipkins and Tinetti have adopted in their press statement.  It says Budget 2022 also will provide $18.9 million

“.. to fund a refresh and enhancement of Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L) delivery to ensure the program is incorporating the most up to date research and is tailored to the New Zealand context.”

Mind you, “program” does become “programme” in five other uses of the word.  Perhaps Hipkins and Tinetti each contributed their own spellings. 

Oh – and it seems the modern learning of Mangled English will teach us to abandon the hyphens that once were required in compound adjectives such as up-to-date research.

Latest from the Beehive

Speech 

2 MAY 2022

Speech to New Zealand US Business Summit

Today I come to you amid a six month exercise of accelerating New Zealand’s re-entry onto the world stage.

1 MAY 2022

Budget 2022 invests to keep Kiwi kids in class and learning

The Government is committed to improving student attendance at school and kura, Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti said in a pre-Budget announcement today.

Workers make their voices heard

Essential workers sent a clear message today that they no longer want to see their pay and conditions set through a race to the bottom, and that they support fair, good faith bargaining with employers through Fair Pay Agreements.

Govt and Air New Zealand to trial innovative and accurate new COVID-19 test

The Government is partnering with Air New Zealand to trial an innovative new COVID-19 testing solution that uses Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) technology.

Government’s Winter Energy Payment kicks in for over 1 million Kiwis

A warmer winter is on the horizon for over 1 million New Zealanders receiving either a main benefit or New Zealand Superannuation as the Winter Energy Payment begins today.

30 APRIL 2022

Govt launches Smokefree May campaign

Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall launched ‘Smokefree May’ today at an event at Manurewa Marae.

 

Buzz from the Beehive – exemption cards are to become available (but not for taxes)

Tax Minister David Parker’s speech about his quest for better information about who is paying how much in taxes and the development of tax principles can now be found on the Beehive website.

The speech (yet to be posted when Point of Order reported yesterday) mentions “an important stage of the project”, which will be wide public consultation on the proposed principles and reporting framework. It’s a shame Parker couldn’t persuade his Cabinet colleagues to take the same principled approach to

Parker wants the tax principles enacted in a Bill before the end of the current Parliamentary term, resulting in the Tax Principles Act taking its place alongside the Tax Administration Act and other revenue Acts “to create the tax system that New Zealanders can understand and be proud of”.

The speech was posted alongside news of exemption cards becoming available – no, not an exemption from having to pay taxes.  The card attests to an exemption from having to wear a mask.

And Energy Minister Megan Woods brings news of Auckland harbour ferries being set to get quieter, cleaner and greener, thanks to two new fully-electric ferries for commuters and sightseers to travel on.

The project is a collaboration between the Government, Auckland Transport, EV Maritime and boat builders McMullen & Wing.

Auckland Transport receives a $27 million grant funding from the Government to pay around 75% of the costs of constructing two new electric ferries.

The funding comes from the Infrastructure Reference Group’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

Latest from the Beehive

27 APRIL 2022

Conservation cup win runs in the family

Wetlands expert and advocate Dr Beverley Clarkson was today presented with New Zealand’s most prestigious conservation award, the Loder Cup by Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan.

New mask exemption card to remove uncertainty

People who have genuine reasons for not being able to wear a face mask can access a new personalised exemption card from the end of May.

Shining a light on unfairness in our tax system

Those coming here expecting announcements of new tax policy will be disappointed. None are being made. We have no secret plan to introduce a CGT nor a wealth tax or a deemed income tax, nor others.

26 APRIL 2022

Auckland harbour goes electric

Auckland harbour ferries are set to get quieter, cleaner and greener, thanks to two new fully-electric ferries for commuters and sightseers to travel on.

Firing the flops in her Cabinet (we suggest) might spark a return to the fold of 2020 voters who have cooled to the PM

So  what’s  happened  to  the  widely admired  crisis management  skills that  elevated  Jacinda Ardern   so  far above  other New Zealand  politicians and  won her re-election in 2020 with  a 50-year  record result for Labour?

She sounded almost  forlorn  as  she  spoke  on Monday of  how Covid  will  increase  “and  rapidly”  and  conceded “there  will be  disruption and  pressure  from Omicron”.

Just  as 2019   was  to be the “year of delivery” and 2021 the “year of the vaccine”, this is to  be  the  “year  of  moving  forward”.   But  moving forward to  what?

Well,  once Covid  reaches its peak and starts to come down, she says

“… we can start to move towards a life that feels a little more like a new normal that we can all live with”. 

Oh dear.

Ardern   says her  primary goal is to manage Covid with few restrictions and accelerate the economic recovery while continuing to ensure that lives and livelihoods are protected.

She  sounded positively elegiac in this  final  stanza: Continue reading “Firing the flops in her Cabinet (we suggest) might spark a return to the fold of 2020 voters who have cooled to the PM”

The health of the oceans is under threat – but RMA reforms (Parker is working on them) should help troubled salmon farmers

More health announcements – concerning state support for farmers and growers affected by Covid-19 and “free” flu vaccinations – have flowed from the Beehive.

More ominously, Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker has drawn attention to the threat to the health of the oceans – and to fish stocks – posed by climate warming.

He didn’t announce anything in particular to counter this threat.  Rather, he mentioned measures he intends to take, such as overhauling the highly contentious Resource Management Act.

His statement was prompted by an announcement to the Stock Exchange by New Zealand King Salmon:  the warming of the sea has been killing the company ‘s salmon stocks enough to cause a significant downwards revision in earnings expectations.

The company has reduced its forecast earnings for the 2022 year by $4 to $5 million.  The higher salmon losses have been recorded most notably in the company’s Pelorus Sound operations.

Parker said this is a sharp reminder that resource management system reforms are needed to deliver better management for aquaculture. Continue reading “The health of the oceans is under threat – but RMA reforms (Parker is working on them) should help troubled salmon farmers”

Ardern and her team will be tested as NZ adjusts to new economic realities in the wake of Covid

Latest opinion  polling  suggests the  political mood is  still  coloured  by  the  pandemic,  with  support  for  the Prime  Minister  and  her  party remaining  strong.

Yet uncertainty  about economic   trends points  to  the  risks that  will have to be navigated  through the  next  12  months.  Will inflation  burn  out of control? How  will  the  tourist  industry  recover?  Will   the  surge in  house  prices flatten out?  May  the  trend in  growing  inequality reverse?

Through  all  the  uncertainty, the  faith  in  the Prime  Minister  remains unshakable. Any regular  reader  of  the “letters  to the  editor” columns  in  newspapers  will be  familiar with  how  any  criticism  of Jacinda Ardern  is  met with a  volley  of  responses  from  those who  ascribe  to her the  power  of  defeating Covid in its different  variants, and preventing  New  Zealanders  from suffering  the  rate of  fatalities experienced  in the  UK, Australia  or  the  US. Continue reading “Ardern and her team will be tested as NZ adjusts to new economic realities in the wake of Covid”