Covid divide in 2022: you ain’t seen nothing yet

As the Omicron wave washes through, it’s hard, even with the seasonal perspective, to reckon what things might be like in say a year’s time.

But perhaps necessary.

Because the day-to-day measures seem less and less meaningful – except where they provide a pointer to the direction of long-term policy.

Continue reading “Covid divide in 2022: you ain’t seen nothing yet”

Late Frost in Brexit Britain

Another sharp take on the resignation of Lord Frost – Boris Johnson’s chief European sherpa – from the folk at Eurointelligence.

Wonk-in-chief Wolfgang Munchau argues Lord Frost was one of the few (perhaps the only one?) of Boris’s close advisers that really understood the needs of a post-Brexit strategy:

“What Brexit requires, first and foremost, is a post-Brexit economic model.”

What model?

Continue reading “Late Frost in Brexit Britain”

In Britain, Christmas locks itself down

Experience suggests one should only call a turning point after it has actually – well – turned.

That said, it might be wise to keep an eye on developments in the UK over the Christmas and New Year period.

While Europe is fast locking down for fear of Omicron, Britain’s cabinet is the fulcrum of a political battle over whether any policy response would be meaningful.

Continue reading “In Britain, Christmas locks itself down”

Boris: Bad reaction to Omicron

British politics is proving a fine laboratory for times of transition.

Boris Johnson’s enemies are exultant at his latest woes: a crushing by-election defeat and a parliamentary vote in which he endured the biggest Conservative party rebellion since – well since the Brexit horrors a few years ago under his predecessor Theresa May.

But oddly enough, it looks like he might keep on standing.

Continue reading “Boris: Bad reaction to Omicron”

Buoyed by bureaucrats’ bullish projections, our Govt likes to keep racing yachts afloat and now (maybe) it’s on to another winner

Monitoring the Ministers

A year ago, as Minister of Economic and Regional Development, Stuart Nash popped up to announce the opening of the America’s Cup Village in downtown Auckland and declare it marked the start of an exciting summer of action on and off the water.

Today he has announced New Zealand has secured a four year deal to bring the new high-tech global sailing competition SailGP to our shores.

Lyttelton Harbour in Christchurch will host the first Sail Grand Prix season ever held in New Zealand.  This will be part of Season Three, to be held across ten countries during 2022-23.

Auckland and Christchurch will then host alternate races in following seasons.

And will taxpayers have to chip in as part of the deal?

Of course (but a comparatively modest sum).

Delve deep enough into the press statement and you will learn: Continue reading “Buoyed by bureaucrats’ bullish projections, our Govt likes to keep racing yachts afloat and now (maybe) it’s on to another winner”

Welcome home, Nanaia – and it’s good to hear defence, security and trade stuff were discussed with big-wigs in North America

Our Beehive update

Matters in the foreign affairs domain have preoccupied ministers over the past two days.

Ambassadors to Russia and the United Nations have been appointed, $100 million has been given to the Cook Islands and Fiji for COVID-19 economic support and recovery, nine southern African countries have been added to New Zealand’s list of very high risk countries after discovery of the COVID-19 variant Omicron, and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has provided a rundown on the North American leg of her 17-day overseas travels.

Mahuta has been busy.  Regardless of jet  lag, she has announced the new ambassadorial appointments and the economic package of $100 million, bringing COVID-19  support to the Cook Islands and Fiji to a combined total of $215 million. New Zealand this time is providing $60 million to the Cook Islands and $40 million to Fiji.

We suppose the press statements were prepared while the Minister was in managed isolation and quarantine, no doubt itching to get back to the Three Waters reforms.

A weekend statement told us the final leg of Mahuta’s travels involved “a number of high-level discussions” in the United States and Canada.

The issues discussed extended beyond the interests of indigenous peoples, the subject of her previous travel report after she meet Canadian ministers.

She mentioned these interests again in her latest statement as a measure of the importance she obviously attaches to them.  But she also brought stuff such as defence, security and trade into her discussions.  Continue reading “Welcome home, Nanaia – and it’s good to hear defence, security and trade stuff were discussed with big-wigs in North America”

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”

The Covid mystery deepens … or so we are told

Accuracy is important for the BBC.  Hence the straplines in its reporting yesterday on the origins of Covid-19 in Wuhan, China:

Covid origins may never be known – US intelligence

“But US agencies say the virus, first identified in China, was not developed as a biological weapon.”

“The office that oversees US spy agencies could not establish how the coronavirus pandemic began.”

But the Financial Times thought the same material merited a different angle:

Continue reading “The Covid mystery deepens … or so we are told”

What must be embedded to modernise our research and science system? The treaty, of course (and don’t forget mātauranga Māori)

Latest from the Beehive

What had become a surge of ministerial announcements this time yesterday had turned into a tsunami at time of writing (around noon today).  Frankly, we can’t keep up.

We ended yesterday’s roundup of Beehive announcements with a statement on the PM’s virtual attendance at the East Asia Summit.  Since then, ministers have posted 16 new statements.  Several were Covid-related.

This was a good time for a smart press secretary to unload news of dubious government spending, hoping it will be buried by the other stuff, including Grant Robertson’s latest boast about how well the government’s finances are being managed.

Sure, core Crown expenses at $31 billion were $3.2 billion above forecast in the three months to the end of September – but, hey, that was all to do with Covid and the payment of wage subsidies and COVID-19 resurgence support payments.

But how well is spending being keep under control?

We wonder about this after Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti got to announce the news we were all bursting to hear – that Fifty Kiwi Kidsongs have been launched through the Ministry of Education’s Arts Online website. The project is a collaboration with Music Education New Zealand Aotearoa (MENZA). Continue reading “What must be embedded to modernise our research and science system? The treaty, of course (and don’t forget mātauranga Māori)”

Much ado about water, a bill to shake up the health system and an investment in pot (strictly for medicinal purposes)


The PM was strutting the international stage (virtually), the Minister of Agriculture turned to pot, the Minister for Emergency Management was limbering up for a shake-up, and the Minister for the Environment was appointing people to speak for a river that (under our laws) is deemed to be a living entity.  

The Minister for Local Government – awash with confidence in her infallibility, it seems – declared her intent to force the Three Waters reforms on local authorities that have raised a raft of reasonable objections.   The local authorities had better believe her.  She has demonstrated in the past her flair for flushing aside the niceties of good legislative procedure.

To counter any impression the government won’t listen to its citizens, on the other hand, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark announced public feedback is being sought on the regulatory safeguards required to ensure consumers and communities receive three waters services that meet their needs.

“The future three waters system needs to promote consumer interests and ensure infrastructure is delivered in a way that is efficient, affordable and resilient. To achieve this, the Government is considering whether economic and consumer protection regulation is needed, and how any new laws could be designed,” David Clark said

Yep.  It was a busy day in the Beehive. Continue reading “Much ado about water, a bill to shake up the health system and an investment in pot (strictly for medicinal purposes)”