There is an alternative to Trump. It looks like this

Wolfgang Munchau is a favourite European political commentator.  You have to love a guy who ran the argument that Germany and Britain should team up to run the European Union.

Naturally you’d like to know his views on the new German governing coalition, which has just published its 178-page policy agreement.

The most interesting thing about the coalition is that it brings together the enviro-statist Green party with the right-liberal Free Democrats, who, as Munchau says can’t stand the sight of each other”.

Continue reading “There is an alternative to Trump. It looks like this”

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)”

Economist is always right

The best editorials in The Economist are timeless. Traditionally they germinate in a Monday morning editorial conference run on the lines of an Oxbridge tutorial; Tuesday for a sometimes leisurely write up; Wednesday for editing; last minute tweaks on Thursday; giving a quality product with a life span longer than yesterday’s fish.

The latest on the global energy shock fits the bill.  Structured on the classical editorial tripos of “ … three problems loom[ing] large”.  Magisterial, incisive, combining sound economics with a global sweep of history.

But perhaps ten years too late.

Continue reading “Economist is always right”

A helping hand from the State for a range of causes, from the tourist industry (some operators, anyway) to Pasifika festivals

A bundle of statements and speeches has emerged from the Beehive in the past 24 hours.

We can’t closely examine all of them but suggest public servants whose pay is being frozen or subject to a stiff test before it is increased might take a look at some of the Government’s spending decisions.

Spending on cultural festivals, for example.

Here’s our attempt at giving readers a record of what has been done with their money or to improve their wellbeing … Continue reading “A helping hand from the State for a range of causes, from the tourist industry (some operators, anyway) to Pasifika festivals”

If you can now buy a house (thanks to the govt’s policies) you may balk at your power bill (thanks to the govt’s policies)

As  the  Ardern government grapples  with  the  housing  crisis  it inherited — and which  it compounded in its 3 ½  years in office — it looks like it  will have  another  on  its hands in  the  energy  sector.

When   it  sought the  plaudits  of the  climate  change  warriors   and   other  Greenies  by placing a   ban   on exploration   for  natural gas,  it did not  appear to  realise that supplies of   natural gas already were running down fast.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was quoted at the time  as  saying “I don’t think  they  (the petroleum exploration industry)  was blindsided”.

She  insisted  the  country  knew  the  Labour Party  wanted to  move away  from fossil  fuels.

So  what  have been  the consequences?

NZ  imported more  coal  in 2020  than in  2017  and 2018  combined. Continue reading “If you can now buy a house (thanks to the govt’s policies) you may balk at your power bill (thanks to the govt’s policies)”

We know about politicians seeking power – but they could be the source of generating power, too

A press release from the Beehive triggered our recollection of a bit of science about the energy-generating properties of methane.  According to an article in the Journal of Environmental Management a few years ago, livestock manure contributes an estimated 240 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent of methane to the atmosphere and represents one of the biggest anthropogenic sources of methane.

Considering that methane is the second biggest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide, the article said,

“ … it is imperative that ways and means are developed to capture as much of the anthropogenic methane as possible. There is a major associated advantage of methane capture: its use as a source of energy which is comparable in ‘cleanness’ to natural gas.”

We bring this to readers’ attention in light of

  • The initiative by Parliamentry Services to cut Parliament’s carbon footprint by installing solar and improving energy efficiency, and
  • The power-generating potential of – is there a more delicate way of expressing this? – political bullshit. 

Continue reading “We know about politicians seeking power – but they could be the source of generating power, too”

Robertson is comforted about the state of the economy while his colleagues get on with spending borrowed money

The first highlighted item – in a press statement from Finance Minister Grant Robertson after the release of the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update – is that the economy is doing better than forecast.

Similarly, Robertson today was taking comfort from better-than-forecast GDP figures which show GDP fell 12.2% in the June quarter from March and plunged the economy into recession.

“This result was better than the Treasury forecast of 16% released yesterday and at the lower end of other commentators’ expectations,” Grant Robertson said.

Next in descending order on his list of highlights from the PREFU yesterday were the expectation unemployment would peak at 7.8%, down from 9.8% forecast in the Budget; year-to-June accounts showed tax revenue, debt and OBEGAL better than forecast; global forecasts have been downgraded because of COVID-19 uncertainties; and “balanced plan to support critical public services, manage debt and reduce the deficit caused by COVID-19” (his balanced plan, we presume).

 Further down, we learn something about the debt that is being amassed:  Continue reading “Robertson is comforted about the state of the economy while his colleagues get on with spending borrowed money”

While colleagues are dishing out largess, Peters serves Meridian (belatedly) with a rebuke and demands an explanation

Latest from the Beehive

Police Minister Stuart Nash climbed on the diversity bandwagon at the same time as he was enhancing his government’s law and order credentials with a press statement highlighting the increase in police numbers on Jacinda Ardern’s watch.

Winston Peters, as Minister of State Enterprises, was sounding tough on another front.  He expressed “an equal measure of shock and concern” at the recent Electricity Authority Board’s preliminary finding that Meridian Energy was involved in an ‘undesirable trading situation’ during December 2019 .

His statement suggests Peters has a very slow fuse. Citing a preliminary ruling by the Electricity Authority, Stuff reported on June 30 that Meridian Energy had pushed up power prices in December by unnecessarily spilling water from its South Island dams that could have been used for generation.

It has taken more than a fortnight for Peters to huff and puff and declare:

“The Meridian Board Chair and Chief Executive have been told to front up to my office and explain themselves before the House rises on August 6.” Continue reading “While colleagues are dishing out largess, Peters serves Meridian (belatedly) with a rebuke and demands an explanation”

Oil, gas and chaos – process was burned in decision to ban new licences

Deputy  PM  Winston  Peters is a  stickler  for  Cabinet  protocols.  We  know that because  he  went  so far as to  include in the  coalition   agreement  between  NZ  First and  Labour  last October  a  clause   to  record a  Cabinet  minute  regarding the

“ … lack of process  followed  prior  to the National-led govt sponsorship  of  UNSC 2334”. 

So  did   Peters’  dedication to  Cabinet  protocols   desert  him  when it   came to  the govt’s  decision to  axe the process of  granting  any  future  offshore  oil and gas  exploration licences?

Surely   not.

After   all, the  decision  delivers a potentially  mortal  blow to  the  Taranaki region  where the   oil and gas  sector injects  $2.5bn annually  into the    national  economy.  But isn’t  NZ  First the   champion of   regional  economies? Continue reading “Oil, gas and chaos – process was burned in decision to ban new licences”