Funding furore is enough to bug voters (while marring the PM’s image) – and then the covid-19 virus comes along

Is  it  the   kind of headline  that  will  win  votes at the general  election?  “Rock-star reception in   Fijian  village”    followed  by a   sub-head  “Rapturous   greeting for  Ardern  during visit to launch $3m  sanitation project”.

The  reporter  (veteran Barry  Soper, Newstalk ZB’s  political  editor) poses the  rhetorical  question:  “Is there any wonder that Ardern loves going overseas?”

As   well,   there  has  been  the effusive   welcome  from  Fiji  strongman  Frank  Bainimarama  who,  according  to  another  reporter,  is  expecting, even “demanding”,  Ardern to  pressure  Australia  on  its climate  change  inaction.

Point of  Order  suspects  Ardern  may be  less  forthcoming than  Bainimarama  would  like,  when  she  meets  Australia’s  Scott Morrison.  Almost certainly  climate change  won’t be on the agenda  in the  Morrison-Ardern  talks.

Still, that  won’t  diminish  Ardern’s  popularity  with   those  New Zealanders   who  delight    in her   being  billed   as  one of the world’s  leaders,    by global  media   like  the  US  Time  magazine   which  featured  her  in a cover story   recently. Continue reading “Funding furore is enough to bug voters (while marring the PM’s image) – and then the covid-19 virus comes along”

NZ First pumps PGF millions into Maori projects in Northland – then accuses Bridges of politicking at Waitangi

No-one  should have been astonished to learn from a Newsroom headline that  Political sparks fly at Waitangi as PM promises ‘more mahi’

The report began by noting

There was a sharper, election-year edge to proceedings at this year’s Waitangi pōwhiri. Simon Bridges and Winston Peters clashed, while Jacinda Ardern made the case for why Māori should have patience with her Government

The report observed that National leader Simon Bridges’ speech seemed to be addressed not to those on the paepae, but for the New Zealanders who would be following events at Waitangi from home.

After a glancing reference to National’s record on Treaty of Waitangi settlements, Whānau Ora and partnership schools, he moved swiftly to attacking Ardern as he referenced her speech at Waitangi last year.

“She said there would be less poverty, she said that she would reduce inequality between Māori and Pākehā, sadly the Government has failed to deliver on these promises.” Continue reading “NZ First pumps PGF millions into Maori projects in Northland – then accuses Bridges of politicking at Waitangi”

The PM’s Waitangi challenge: delivering enough transformation to ensure the Maori Party is not re-energised

Even though the  general election is  seven  months distant, this  may be a    week   which  offers  a  pointer  to  the mood   in a  critical  element in Labour’s support base.

The cameras  will be   focused  on   PM  Jacinda Ardern   and daughter  Neve  at  Waitangi Day celebrations.  But  will  the message her government is  delivering – transformational  change   for Maori – ring true  with  her  audiences?

Two years  ago  she  said at  Waitangi  she wanted to  be held to  account   each  year for the performance of her  government.

A  year  ago  she talked of  how  her government   would reduce  unemployment, strengthen  education,  and eliminate   inequality between  Maori and  Pakeha.

And this  week  there  has been  a  series  of announcements  involving  millions of   dollars  for  projects  in  Northland.  Continue reading “The PM’s Waitangi challenge: delivering enough transformation to ensure the Maori Party is not re-energised”

Infrastructure grumbles: Govt is chided for ignoring climate change, neglecting the poor and being too slow

Several Ministers were given an opportunity yesterday to bray about infrastructure spending and try to persuade voters what a splendid job they were doing.

National brayed, too, that the government was implementing its investment programme while quibbling about a two-years pause.

Oh – and Chris Bishop took credit for having some of the government’s spending being directed to the Melling interchange.

The flood of press statements started with a grand announcement from the PM and two of her ministerial colleagues (here), followed by statements from Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones (here ),   Finance Minister Grant Robertson (here), Deputy PM and State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters (here), Education Minister Chris Hipkins (here),  Climate Change Minister James Shaw (here),  Health Minister David Clark and Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter (here), and Transport Minister Phil Twyford (here).

A  quick costing for households from the Taxpayers Union found

“Grant Robertson just spent nearly $7,000 per Kiwi household in a single announcement. Continue reading “Infrastructure grumbles: Govt is chided for ignoring climate change, neglecting the poor and being too slow”

Adoration of the PM is a strong card for Labour but polls are pointing to a close-run election

NZ   politicians  have  been  quiet  over the   holiday season,  perhaps  in the case  of   the  Labour team, reflecting  on the  “year of  delivery”  and where  it all  went  wrong.

But  now  we  are  into a new decade (one  authority has already labelled it  “the roaring 2020s”)  and New Zealand cannot stay  isolated in  some sort of  cocoon, no matter how  much  this may be desired.

Even   those politicians  who have succeeded  in finding a  peaceful  beach on which to  sun themselves  will  be  formulating the strategies  they hope will  work for  them  in election year.

Many  on the  Labour side  of the  fence   believe   Jacinda  Ardern  has a fan base    strong enough to  carry  the coalition to a  second term.   Here at   Point of  Order,   we have  encountered  sufficient adoration within  that  fan base  to  consider  that  they  will stay   loyal  when they  cast  their ballots.

And  she   is  regarded  as  one of the  most admired world leaders,  isn’t  she?

But  as  elections elsewhere have  shown,  particularly   in the UK  but also  in   Australia, constituencies  which have  never   deviated   from being  rock-solid  Labour  for  decades can turn decisively  away  from the party. Continue reading “Adoration of the PM is a strong card for Labour but polls are pointing to a close-run election”

How taxpayers are pumping millions into the motel business to provide emergency housing

Blogger Lindsay Mitchell has used the Official Information Act to flush out data on emergency housing from the Ministry for Social Development.

The results have been posted under the heading Motel charges premium for emergency housing.

At long last MSD has updated OIA requests, Mitchell writes. Responses up to November 2019 are on-line

“ … and always make for interesting reading. For instance payments made to the Olive Tree Motel for emergency housing.”

Clients are granted an amount which is paid directly to the motel, Mitchell explains.

In the June 2019 quarter the motel was receiving $265 a night.

But nightly charges per unit range from $145 to $165 according to their website. Charges reduce for longer stays.

The response to another request reveals that over 600 accommodation providers  received emergency grants in the June 2019 quarter. Continue reading “How taxpayers are pumping millions into the motel business to provide emergency housing”

Child poverty – the depressing data the government’s spin doctors have not been braying about

New Year is a time for predictions to be made by commentators bemusingly confident they can foretell what the year ahead will bring, and for last year’s predictions to be checked.

On her blog today, Lindsay Mitchell has gone back a bit further than January 2019 to check on a prediction she made in September 2017  that Jacinda Ardern would increase child poverty if she became Prime Minister.

So how has that turned out?

On 7 of 9 measures introduced under the Child Poverty Reduction Act, to June 2018 poverty had increased. That’s fairly out-dated data now and not a particularly useful measuring stick.

But also now known is that children in benefit dependent households rose between June 2018 and 2019. Continue reading “Child poverty – the depressing data the government’s spin doctors have not been braying about”