It will be 4pm soon – and (here’s hoping) the press will have an opportunity to question the PM

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Cabinet is scheduled to meet today to assess alert level restrictions, with announcements to be made during a 4pm press conference.  We look forward to hearing from the PM at that time.

So, too, will National Party leader Judith Collins, who has been pressing the PM to “come out from the shadows” after several days of no-shows at previously daily press conferences.

Collins’ demand for the PM to front up to news media followed the release of the latest Covid-19 numbers, which suggested the outbreak was slowly spreading around the North Island (the news has been somewhat brighter today).  She said:

“New Zealanders will be unsettled by the news – delivered via written statement – that we have 60 new community cases today and yet our Prime Minister did not even get one of her senior ministers to stand in for her at the podium.” Continue reading “It will be 4pm soon – and (here’s hoping) the press will have an opportunity to question the PM”

MIQueue – bringing Kiwis together

Scattered across time zones, united in desperation, Jacinda’s team of 25,000 hunched over PCs and phones on Tuesday to secure one of the coveted 3,700 rooms (more or less) for returning New Zealanders.  The two hours or so it took to work down the electronic queue were an opportunity to catch up on international coverage of the government’s acknowledgement that Covid elimination was not going to work. 

Continue reading “MIQueue – bringing Kiwis together”

Graham Adams: The government is stumbling towards disaster over Three Waters

 

The Opposition parties must be watching with glee, writes Graham Adams, as councils reject Nanaia Mahuta’s plan for drinking water, stormwater and wastewater.

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Even Labour’s most one-eyed supporters must be aware by now that the Three Waters reform being pushed by Nanaia Mahuta is fast becoming a make-or-break issue for the government. The eight-week “engagement” period that ended on September 30 saw a swathe of councils across the nation objecting — sometimes angrily — to the proposed changes to the management of drinking water, storm water and wastewater.

Mahuta’s plan is for the 67 councils’ water services to be merged into four giant regional authorities that ratepayers will not directly own or control. As National’s Chris Luxon says, councils are rightly worried about “not having direct influence and no shareholding or formal stake in the new entity whatsoever”.

The roll call of disaffected councils includes those overseeing our two biggest cities. Between them, Auckland and Christchurch represent nearly two million inhabitants — or roughly 40 per cent of New Zealand’s population.

Furthermore, their mayors — Phil Goff and Lianne Dalziel — are former high-ranking Labour ministers, which makes dismissing their opposition difficult.

The rhetoric from Christchurch councillors, in particular, has been incendiary. One, James Gough, said the proposal showed disregard for democracy, and was nothing short of “blatant asset theft”. Continue reading “Graham Adams: The government is stumbling towards disaster over Three Waters”

Covid has camouflaged cracks in the Cabinet and hidden failures in the govt’s performance

Is  the  political  tide which  Labour  rode  in  triumph  to   victory  last  year    beginning  to  ebb?  The  September  Colmar  Brunton    poll pointed  at   least  to  it  being  on the  turn.

Not  that  political  pundits    saw  it  that  way.  They  were  too  heavily  focused  on  how  National’s  leader  Judith  Collins  had  crashed to  a  new  low  point and canvassing  how  soon  the  caucus  dissidents   would  coalesce   to  overthrow  her.

Those  experts  hardly   noticed  that  Prime  Minister  Jacinda  Ardern’s  once  stellar popularity   has  moved  off  its  peak  and  is  now  down  at  44% — even  though  the  communication  skills  which  propelled  her  to  the   heights   have  been  in  daily  evidence  during  the  latest  Covid  Delta  outbreak.

The  other   curious  feature   of  the  mainstream  media’s  analysis  of  the  Colmar  Brunton sampling was  the almost  universal  view  that   the ACT party  is    sucking  the  oxygen   out  of  National,  excluding  the  rather  different prospect   that  the  parties  of  the  right  are gaining  while  support  for  the  parties of  the  left  are   now  easing, admittedly  from    an  exceptional  high. Continue reading “Covid has camouflaged cracks in the Cabinet and hidden failures in the govt’s performance”

Lower the drawbridge – the PM is planning to bust out of the NZ bubble to talk trade (among other things) in Europe

PM Jacinda Ardern is planning a major visit to Europe next month. Details have yet to be announced but she is expected to visit Paris, Brussels and possibly Berlin.

She is heading NZ’s campaign to secure a free trade agreement with the European Union. First visit is likely to be Paris where she will have a warm welcome from President Emmanuel Macron. This couldn’t come at a more appropriate time.

The French are feeling bruised over the Australia-UK-US nuclear submarine agreement and the cancellation of the $80 billion contract to build French nuclear submarines converted to diesel-electric power in Adelaide. France has already signalled it would not impede a NZ-EU trade pact.

European countries generally are concerned at the new nuclear submarine pact.  EU capitals had no prior warning despite President Joe Biden’s expressed desires to repair relations bruised under Donald Trump.  It was also angered by Biden’s failure to alert Europe of his withdrawal from Afghanistan despite the presence of European forces in that country. Continue reading “Lower the drawbridge – the PM is planning to bust out of the NZ bubble to talk trade (among other things) in Europe”

Govt should count the deportees sent back from Oz, then phone Canberra for tips on how to be rid of trouble-makers

In a lame explanation for the state’s failure to prevent the stabbings inside Coundown LynnMall on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says the government has acted as quickly as it could to bring in changes to terrorism laws that will cover the planning of a terrorist act.

The Crown tried – and failed – to charge Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen under the Terrorism Suppression Act because planning to commit a terrorist attack is not an offence under current law.

Robertson said legislation to cover planning a terrorist attack, introduced this year, is well progressed and the select committee is close to completing its deliberations.

Slowly but surely – we are told – is the way to do things.

“In these areas it is important to get this right,” he told Morning Report.

“The consequences of getting it wrong are large, and from the government’s perspective we think the policy work has been done, the bill is in and the public have now had their say we now get on with passing that law.”

Oh, and let’s not forget the Immigration Act.

Robertson said work was under way with this legislation, too.

But could he and his government try picking up the pace?

At Point of Order, we say yes, it could – and if it wants to find out how, then a quick phone call to Scott Morrison across the ditch should provide some ideas. Continue reading “Govt should count the deportees sent back from Oz, then phone Canberra for tips on how to be rid of trouble-makers”

Learning the rules of Covid-speak: no mu is good news, our R number is comforting and NZ has moved up the OECD ladder

PM  Jacinda   Ardern   and  her  government   have  developed   a  Covid-speak   which  holds  its  own  fascination and,  according  to  some, needs  its  own  interpreters.

In much the same way (according to Forbes)  the World Health Organisation is monitoring a new coronavirus variant known as “Mu”, amid concerns that it has mutations which suggest it is more resistant to vaccines.

In a weekly pandemic bulletin, the UN agency said Mu – known scientifically as B.1.621 – has been designated as a “variant of interest”, a classification used to target research and highlight potentially worrying new strains.

“The Mu variant has a constellation of mutations that indicate potential properties of immune escape,” the WHO report said.

The  outbreak  of Covid-speak,  along  with Mu,  shows  NZ  is  far  from  being done  with Covid. Continue reading “Learning the rules of Covid-speak: no mu is good news, our R number is comforting and NZ has moved up the OECD ladder”

Biden’s ratings are rocked by chaos in Kabul but the US appreciated NZ’s contribution to the evacuation

The war in Afghanistan is over after 20 years, according to a defiant speech by President Joe Biden, but the withdrawal  has left him and his administration wobbling.

Biden’s  personal poll ratings are now at 36%, down from 50% previously, while those of his vice president Kamala Harris are only 46% and she is failing to make political headway.

He faces strong domestic challenges. The House and Senate have passed two bills to fund infrastructure and a huge $US3 billion bill to fund a rang of measures from healthcare through education to social welfare.  The latter is mired in internal Democratic party struggles, largely because Biden wants to fund it largely through raising taxes from an average 23% to 28% and capital gains to 43%.

This sticks in the craws of moderate Democrats and most Republicans and is unlikely to proceed in its current form.

Later in 2022 the US will hold mid-term elections and already the parties are gearing up. The Democrats need lose only five seats in the lower house to surrender control to the Republicans (and end the career of Speaker Nancy Pelosi) while the Republicans need to gain only one seat in the Senate to control the upper house. This would leave Biden a lame duck.

On past results over 60 years, the party holding the White House also loses the lower house.

But  let’s get back to the war. Continue reading “Biden’s ratings are rocked by chaos in Kabul but the US appreciated NZ’s contribution to the evacuation”

Debacle in Afghanistan – NZ can’t escape criticism for its role in the West’s shameful exit from Kabul

“Biden’s  Debacle”:   The  Economist said  it  all  with those words on  its  cover  page  headline  last  week.  The  Guardian  Weekly   chimed  in   with “So Long: The  End of  the  American  Century”.

In its editorial, The Economist said: 

“If  the  propagandists of  the Taliban had  scripted the  collapse  of the  20-year  mission to  reshape  Afghanistan , they  could  not have come up  with more  harrowing images….Afghans were  left  in  such  a  horrifying   bind   that  clinging to the  wheels  of  a  hurtling  aircraft seemed  their  best  option.

“ It is  an appalling  outcome for  Afghanistan’s 39m   people”. Continue reading “Debacle in Afghanistan – NZ can’t escape criticism for its role in the West’s shameful exit from Kabul”

Oops – our PM’s halo has slipped in overseas critiques of NZs Covid elimination strategy

The  Ardern government is  clinging  to  its Covid elimination strategy, even  as  the  Ministry of  Health   is  looking  at the  need for  booster shots for  those  who were  vaccinated  six months  ago.

A new  study  by researchers  in Britain has found that  protection offered  by the Pfizer vaccine,  which is 88% effective  in  the first  month,  begins  to  fade  within five to six months  of  the  second injection.  By  then  it is  only  74%  effective   The Astra-Zeneca  vaccine   is  only  67%  effective   after  about  five  months.

New Zealand’s Director-General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield, today confirmed officials are considering booster injections for those who received their Pfizer vaccines in  February, March  and April.

Among NZ  experts  there  has  been debate  on  whether    booster  shots   would be  necessary. They  agree the Pfizer vaccine is highly effective at preventing serious disease, hospitalisation and death.

Vaccines continue to perform well, including against the Delta variant, and serious cases worldwide are generally only occurring in the unvaccinated. Continue reading “Oops – our PM’s halo has slipped in overseas critiques of NZs Covid elimination strategy”