The PM will return to a country where the flagging economy is running out of the resources it needs to grow

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will almost  certainly  have  earned  a  bounce  upwards  in  her party’s  polling after  her mission  in  Europe, where,  as a  result of  her  “Captain’s  Call”,  New Zealand  has  accepted  the  terms  of  the  EU free  trade  deal.

The  outcome is   positive  for  some  sectors, though  not for  the  dairy  and  meat  producers. NZ’s  negotiating team,  led   by  the  redoubtable  Vangelis Vitalis,  did  a  remarkable  job in securing  as  much  as  they  did,  but  the  disappointment  over  the  lack of  any  significant gains  for the  dairy  and  meat  industries   could have  justified  the  government  flagging  it  away.

If   the  plaudits  for  the  government  are somewhat muted, it’s on the  home  front that black   clouds   have been  gathering.

Those  may dull  the  homecoming  for  Ardern after she engages in more trade-related talks in Australia.  The  reports   on  the  economy awaiting her are  downbeat, if not chilling. Continue reading “The PM will return to a country where the flagging economy is running out of the resources it needs to grow”

McAnulty mentions “democracy” as he braces to meet local authority leaders – and maybe he will dive into Three Waters issues

Buzz from the Beehive

Amidst a raft of statements that crow about government achievements and/or bray about new initiatives, Point of Order found an oddity:  a statement from the newly minted Associate Minister of Local Government who intends to meet local government leaders around the country to talk about this, that and …

Well, surely he will want to talk (if not listen) about Three Waters and explain the influence that will be wielded by the sister of his colleague,  Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta,

But the press statement only hinted that  Three Waters would be on the agenda.

The crowing and braying statements, of course, were much less puzzling. Continue reading “McAnulty mentions “democracy” as he braces to meet local authority leaders – and maybe he will dive into Three Waters issues”

Govt action against climate change includes pouring millions into troughs and inviting private sector to line up for a slurp

Buzz from the Beehive

Foreign affairs, agriculture, health and transport are among the burning issues which have been keeping our ministers, their policy advisers and their press secretaries busy in recent days.  Inviting oinkers to new freshly filled troughs was on the agenda, too.

Ministers had issued 13 new press statements when Point of Order checked this morning.  At time of writing the number of new statements had increased to 16, on subjects ranging from the agriculture sector’s agenda for dealing with climate change to the race-fixated restructuring of the health system.

On the foreign affairs front, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta was announcing additional sanctions on Russian state-owned enterprises and defence entities in response to the ongoing brutality in Ukraine, the PM was announcing a visit here this month by Samoa Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataʻafa 60 years after the Treaty of Friendship between the two countries was signed, and the PM was further announcing she will travel to Sydney this week for “an in-person meeting” with new Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. Continue reading “Govt action against climate change includes pouring millions into troughs and inviting private sector to line up for a slurp”

Why several Labour MPs (whose futures are in electoral jeopardy) will be hoping for miracles in this year’s Budget

Finance Minister Grant Robertson managed  to  put  a  bold  face on  his  fiscal management  last week  when he  presented  the  latest set of Crown accounts, saying they   “are continuing to reflect the strong position New Zealand is in to manage the challenging global environment”.

Tax revenue in the  nine months  to March  was $2.7 bn above forecast at $78.6bn, due to better-than-expected corporate profits and a strong jobs market.  This was partly offset by lower GST returns.

Core Crown expenses were close to forecast at $92.6bn.

The operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) deficit was $8.1bn, $4.1bn  below that forecast in December’s Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update.

Robertson commented approvingly:

“This result shows the strong position New Zealand finds itself in, despite the uncertainty and volatility of the Ukraine war, the pandemic and ongoing supply chain disruptions in critical trading hubs like China. It is further evidence that our strong health response has been the right one for the economy”.

Robertson concedes there are significant challenges for families and business right now. Continue reading “Why several Labour MPs (whose futures are in electoral jeopardy) will be hoping for miracles in this year’s Budget”

Buzz from the Beehive: Good news about the war on Mycoplasma bovis – and the PM pops up with O’Connor to announce it

If the news was bad, we imagine it would have been left to Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor to do the announcing and he may well have stalled until Friday, when journalists and commentators are packing up for the weekend.  But the news in this case is good and – hey – guess who shared the platform with the Minister to announce it?

Why, none other than the PM. 

The announcement related to the world-first attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, agreed jointly between the Government and farming sector groups four years ago. Just one infected property remains in New Zealand.

Jacinda Ardern and Damien O’Connor marked the milestone at the national bulk milk testing lab MilkTestNZ in Waikato today alongside eradication partners DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ.

“When we took our one shot to eradicate we did so to protect our national herd from a painful disease, our economy from a sharp shock, and our rural communities from widespread anxiety,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Our partnership with the primary sector was critical. No one in the world had attempted to eradicate M. bovis before, and if we were going to try something that had never been done, we needed to do so together.”

The occasion gave O’Connor the opportunity to announce Budget 22’s  investment of $110.9 million into New Zealand’s biosecurity work

  • $42.9 million to bolster New Zealand’s biosecurity readiness for future incursions
  • $68 million over the coming year to continue the M. bovis eradication momentum
  • Protection of primary sector vital with exports forecast to hit record $50.8 billion for year-end 2022

Latest from the Beehive

5 MAY 2022

Travel trade show reconnects with Australia

A government-backed push to reconnect the tourism and travel industry with our largest market in Australia will see Tourism Minister Stuart Nash head to Sydney next week.

 Budget 22 investing in biosecurity for future economic security

The Government is strengthening New Zealand’s biosecurity system as part of Budget 2022 to help protect our vital primary sector and native flora and fauna.

 Joint M. bovis eradication plan reaches significant milestone

Four years into a world-first attempt to eradicate Mycoplasma bovis, agreed jointly between the Government and farming sector groups, just one infected property remains in New Zealand.

 Crown accounts reflect strong economy

The Crown accounts are continuing to reflect the strong position New Zealand is in to manage the challenging global environment, Grant Robertson said.

 

 

Buzz from the Beehive: while FPA bill is examined, we’ll ask Carmel for a grant to craft (artfully) a new tax-paying system…

While Finance Minister Grant Robertson was having his monthly brag about the resilience of the economy and the state of the government’s finances, Michael Wood (Workplace Relations and Safety) was bragging about legislation that may well affect the tax drain from private-sector companies and their staffs and Carmel Sepuloni (Arts, Culture and Heritage) was bragging about a mass of money being doled out to artists, craftspeople and what-have-you.

Robertson was commenting on the interim Financial Statements of the Government of New Zealand for the eight months ended 28 February 2022, released by the Treasury yesterday.

Reported against forecasts based on the Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update 2021 (HYEFU 2021), published in December, they show – Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: while FPA bill is examined, we’ll ask Carmel for a grant to craft (artfully) a new tax-paying system…”

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)”

We won’t think too badly about the deficit in the govt’s books (perhaps) if we are reminded how much worse it might have been

Finance  Minister  Grant   Robertson  is  not  averse    to  talking  up  how  well  the  NZ   economy  is  performing.  In  fact  he  positively  revels  in  it.

And,  of  course,  the  inference  to be drawn by anyone  who  listens  to  his  rhetoric  is that  we have  a  superbly  talented  Minister   to  guide  the  good  ship New  Zealand through  the rough  seas  of  the  pandemic.

This  week  in Parliament,  responding  to  a  patsy  from one  of  his  fans,  he focussed  on  the Crown accounts,  saying  they were  in better  shape  than  expected.

“For the year to June 2021, the Crown accounts show the operating balance before gains and losses—the OBEGAL—was at a deficit of $4.6bn. This was $10.6bn better than had been forecast in the Budget in May.

“Net core Crown debt stood at 30% of GDP, $11.6bn less than forecast and well below the average for advanced economies, of 90%. In addition, the cost of servicing that debt remains very low by historic standards”. Continue reading “We won’t think too badly about the deficit in the govt’s books (perhaps) if we are reminded how much worse it might have been”

Minister brags about the July 1 wellbeing boost but (oblivious to govt’s borrowing) Greens press for even bigger benefits

A swag of Ministers joined in proclaiming a raft of initiatives which kick in today, all intended (but not necessarily guaranteed) to support New Zealand’s economic recovery from Covid, while addressing child poverty, housing, and climate change.

“Together, today’s initiatives deliver on our priorities of lifting more children out poverty, improving the state of rental housing and reducing our climate emissions while supporting our economic recovery from COVID,” Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said.

The Green Party responded by saying

  • It welcomes the 1 July changes to support families and children, but
  • The main benefit increase must go further to help pull New Zealanders out of poverty.

The Greens’ spokesperson for Social Development & Employment, Ricardo Menéndez March, referenced a new poll published today which shows a majority of New Zealanders from different backgrounds think the Government should increase income support beyond what was announced in Budget 2021.

Did the poll gauge the willingness of these respondents to pay extra taxes to raise the readies? Continue reading “Minister brags about the July 1 wellbeing boost but (oblivious to govt’s borrowing) Greens press for even bigger benefits”

School lunches are free and the government’s books are balanced – but don’t look too hard at the $40bn rise in its net debt

Our Beehive Bulletin

We spotted the politically alluring word “free” among the latest Beehive announcements.  The headline said “Hundreds more schools join free lunches programme”.

This was one of two statements from Chris Hpikins since Point of Order last updated its record of of ministerial press statements. The other (in his capacity as COVID-19 Response Minister) said more than half of New Zealand’s estimated 12,000 border workforce have received their first vaccinations, as a third batch of vaccines arrive in the country.

As of midnight Tuesday, a total of 9,431 people had received their first doses. More than 70 percent of those, which equates to 6,688 people, have been delivered in the Auckland region.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark had good news, too. The Government’s Consumer Travel Reimbursement Scheme has helped return over $352 million of refunds and credits to New Zealanders who had overseas travel cancelled due to COVID-19.

But let’s tuck into those school lunches and Hipkins’ repudiation of the old saw about there being no such thing as a free lunch.

We are sure he is wrong and that taxpayers will be called on to pick up the tab, a figure not mentioned in his braying press statement as Minister of Education. Continue reading “School lunches are free and the government’s books are balanced – but don’t look too hard at the $40bn rise in its net debt”