Overhaul ahead for local authorities and their governance – the big issue should be whether local democracy is enhanced or further eroded

There was an international flavour to two of the new statements from the Beehive and a cosmic flavour to a third, when we checked earlier in the day.  But the most ominous announcement, signalling big changes in the offing very close to home, emerged from the office of Nanaia Mahuta, as Minister of Local Government.

She advised us – or warned us, maybe – she has appointed a team to review our local government arrangements.

She mentioned the evolution of local democracy.

Evolution?  Or further erosion?

One outcome could be a quickening of the pace of change that already has weakened citizens’ right to decide who should govern them and their ability to hold their governors to account for their performance at three-yearly elections.

On the international front, we learned – Continue reading “Overhaul ahead for local authorities and their governance – the big issue should be whether local democracy is enhanced or further eroded”

Back to the future: Ardern govt refashions a 2007 commitment to make the state service carbon-neutral

The   government’s declaration of a  national  emergency  on climate change has  taken  symbolism  in politics  to new  heights. It’s  an art form perfected by Prime  Minister  Jacinda Ardern and  the  bulk  of  New Zealanders, it seems,  like it.

Look   at  how she  kept  New Zealanders  free  of  the  Covid-19  virus (albeit with a  bit of expert help  from  Dr Ashley  Bloomfield).

A  problem  with  rising  house  prices? Send  a  letter  to  the  Reserve  Bank  governor.

Too  many  children suffering   in  poverty?  Increase   benefits:  problem solved.

So  too  with    climate  change:  First  step,  make  the state  sector  carbon-free.

The  public  cheers. Opposition  politicians who dismiss it are rubbished as  carping critics. Continue reading “Back to the future: Ardern govt refashions a 2007 commitment to make the state service carbon-neutral”

Govt has declared its aspirational (but uncosted) decarbonising goals – and the oil giants have their goals, too

The government is wrestling with the goal of decarbonising the economy—at a  cost  nobody  can guess at.   It  says  it wants NZ’s electricity system to  become 100% renewable.

But,  Energy Minister  Megan Woods insists,  “we  won’t  die in a  ditch over the last couple of percent if it places unreasonable costs on households and puts security of supply at risk”.

For those   eager  not to  join  her  in the   ditch  (or anywhere else),  it  would be  reassuring,  given the  government’s performance  other major policies (for  example  KiwiBuild),  to  have a   clearly defined  policy  rather  than aspirational  ministerial  hopes.

Let’s  face  it:  there  will be a   cost,  possibly a  high one,  to decarbonising the  economy.

But will   NZ’s  effort  make any  significant  difference to global warming?  After all,  NZ’s  greenhouse gas emissions  are  just 0.17% of  the  world’s  total ,  compared  with China’s  26%, the US  14%  and the  EU  9%.    Continue reading “Govt has declared its aspirational (but uncosted) decarbonising goals – and the oil giants have their goals, too”