Yes, there will be a cull – it will be aimed at cutting group that launched the “dirty dairying” campaign down to size

Players in the country’s biggest exporter earner, the dairy and meat industries, would have shown more than a passing interest in two statements from the Beehive yesterday.

Agriculture Minister announced the roll-out of extra monitoring and a range of practical support to help farmers achieve immediate improvements in intensive winter grazing practices.

Acting Conservation Minister Ayesha Verrall  released a report outlining recommendations to strengthen the governance and good management practices within NZ Fish & Game, the outfit charged with managing sport fishing and game bird hunting across NZ that persistently harries farmers on environmental issues.

Verrall didn’t say so in her statement (no doubt with the wellbeing of Fish and Game governors in mind), but the review found:

“It is an extraordinary and unnecessary level of governance to have 144 governors (councilors of the regional FGCs and the NZFGC) for an organisation with a turnover of around $11 million., approximately $40 million in assets and 70 or so staff.  It was pointed out by several parties that this means there are more Fish and Game councillors in New Zealand than there are Members of Parliament.  The governor-to-staff ratio of 2-1 is not in line with best practice about governance ratios and effective teams.”

A culling – inevitably – is among the recommendations from the review team. 

It calls for fewer regions by amalgamating some of the existing ones and trimming the numbers on the NZFGC.  

Two further Beehive statements alert us to government decisions which will entail the spending of our money. 

  • A $110 million Spinal Unit and Adult Rehabilitation Unit in Auckland has been given the initial funding go-ahead from the Government. The new, purpose-built facility will replace the existing Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit at Ōtara and the General Rehabilitation Service in the Colvin Complex at Middlemore Hospital, and will form part of the $229.4 million Manukau Health Park super-clinic redevelopment.
  • Phase one of the Franz Josef flood protection project has been approved after West Coast councils sought COVID recovery support from the government. The northern stopbanks to protect Franz Josef township from the Waiho River will be upgraded  followed by work on the southern stopbanks.  This phase involves investment of up to $12.3 million by the government and local councils. The co-funding arrangement involves $9.23 million from government, through the Provincial Development Unit.

Two further statements tell us –

  • New Zealand has lifted the travel pause with Western Australia, effective from midday today when Quarantine Free Travel recommenced for travellers who have not been identified as contacts. Travellers identified as close contacts will need to complete 14 days of self-isolation and provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before departure for New Zealand.
  • Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta expressed her sadness at hearing of the death of former Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull.  He  had also provided leadership to Local Government New Zealand as it  grapples with climate change, infrastructure deficits, and the impacts of Covid-19.

 Damien O’Connor’s statement draws attention to intensive winter grazing (IWG), a farming practice where cattle, sheep and other livestock progressively graze areas planted with fodder crops. If done poorly or too extensively, this can have serious negative effects on both animal welfare and the environment, particularly freshwater and estuary health.

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Ministry for the Environment (MfE), councils and industry representatives, have developed an online tool to help improve practices to benefit freshwater quality and animal welfare.

In March, the government deferred the introduction of IWG practice regulations until May next year.

O’Connor said: 

“We want people to engage with this module so they will be ready for the upcoming changes.”

The 2021/2022 Intensive Winter Grazing Module can be accessed by clicking here

At Point of Order, we expect Fish and Game to keep a close eye on farmers’ compliance.  It’s the outfit which started the “Dirty Dairying Campaign” in 2002 as a way to voice their growing concern and mobilise public opinion in the fight against the declining ecological health of freshwater in New Zealand.

 But Fish and Game has its own issues.

The report released by Verrall outlines recommendations to strengthen the governance and good management practices within the organisation.

Fish & Game has had the same structure since it was set up in 1990.

The report is the result of a ministerial review initiated last year by former Minister Eugenie Sage to ensure its governance and structure were “fit for purpose” today.

The independent review, undertaken by Belinda Clark and John Mills, found Fish & Game plays an important role in environmental advocacy and stewardship.

It also identified “significant opportunities to strengthen governance and management good practices”, which somewhat suggestes they are not now good practices..

Verrall says she is now looking forward to Fish & Game adopting changes which will make it a much more fit-for-purpose organisation in terms of serving its core stakeholders, enabling Māori expression of rangatiratanga and in protecting the freshwater and other values so precious to all New Zealanders.

Latest from the Beehive

28 APRIL 2021

Franz Josef infrastructure gets green light

New integrated Spinal and Adult Rehabilitation Unit at Manukau Health Park

27 APRIL 2021 Continue reading “Yes, there will be a cull – it will be aimed at cutting group that launched the “dirty dairying” campaign down to size”

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”

The rot of local government democracy – Wellington citizens are deemed unfit to comment and Tauranga is run by Mahuta’s commissioners

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s intentions were plainly proclaimed soon after the Ardern Government began its second term.  She was determined to remove legislative machinery that enabled public polls to be conducted when councils attempted to create Māori wards.

The headline on an RNZ report summed up her commitment: Mahuta vows to clear obstacles to creating Māori council wards

She has been dismayingly successful, from the perspective of citizens anxious to buttress democratic electoral and governance arrangements against the fast-spreading erosion when special provisions for Maori are introduced.

First, she led the charge in ramming the Local Electoral (Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill through Parliament under urgency.

As National MP Nick Smith recalled at the time of the bill’s rapid passage into law, Mahuta had been in Parliament in 2002 when the law that allowed referendums to be conducted on Māori wards had been passed in 2002. Continue reading “The rot of local government democracy – Wellington citizens are deemed unfit to comment and Tauranga is run by Mahuta’s commissioners”

Nick Smith’s fairness questions (were Maori ward supporters given more time?) spark call for reopening of submissions on bill

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union  has drawn attention to a significant constitutional issue regarding our right to be consulted fairly on laws which affect our voting rights.

It’s the suggestion (the union said “disclosure”) that Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahata gave local councils advance notice of her Māori wards legislation and the short time that would be allowed for public submissions. 

The Minister had given her allies a five-day head start to prepare submissions on the Bill to entrench Maori wards, union spokesman Jordan Williams contended.

Members of the public, on the other hand, were given just one day’s notice to prepare for “the disgracefully short two-day submission window.”

Williams insisted:

“The Minister knew perfectly well what she was doing. The decision to warn her mates before blindsiding the general public can only be read as a cynical attempt to manipulate the consultation process and limit the contributions of New Zealanders opposed to the Bill.”

This compromising of the process warranted the Speaker reopening the calling of submissions, Williams said. Continue reading “Nick Smith’s fairness questions (were Maori ward supporters given more time?) spark call for reopening of submissions on bill”

While an MP bridles against neckties, voters who oppose Maori wards are being told to get knotted

LATEST FROM THE BEEHIVE

While a Maori Party MP was grandstanding against colonial oppression and discrimination by refusing to wear a necktie in Parliament, the government was rushing the passage of a bill which will grant Maori a significant electoral advantage by subverting democracy at the local authority level. 

The grandstanding was done by Rawiri Waititi, who – when kicked out of Parliament on Tuesday for breaching a dress code that has since been changed – told Speaker Trevor Mallard: “It’s not about ties — it’s about cultural identity, mate.” He described a necktie as “a colonial noose”.

The bill being rushed into law removes voters’ right to veto the imposition of Maori wards on city and district councils.  This contradicts the Labour Party’s 2020 election manifesto, which stated:

“Labour will uphold local decision making in the democratic institutions of local government… Labour will ensure that major decisions about local democracy involve full participation of the local population from the outset.”

Yeah, right.

But under the Bill as it stands, tens of thousands of ratepayers in local authority areas where petitions have already been announced and signatures have been collected, will have their lawful democratic rights revoked.

As political commentator Karl du Fresne points out, the majority’s right to determine the form of local government representation in their communities is being scrapped to enable Maori (invariably part-Maori) candidates to bypass the need to win popular support.  Successful candidates will be responsible only to constituents who claim Maori ancestry. Continue reading “While an MP bridles against neckties, voters who oppose Maori wards are being told to get knotted”

How the Education Ministry has rewritten treaty history, the govt has been generous to Nga Puhi and Maori wards are not needed

There was no fresh news from the Beehive (when we checked earlier today) since an announcement the other day about a cycle and walking track along the Wellington foreshore.  Accordingly, Point of Order’s political team turned to find what other bloggers have been saying.

These are among the posts which raise issues of relevance to Waitangi Day (or Waitangi weekend) –

  • Michael Bassett (historian and former Minister raises concerns about Labour’s history curriculum
  • David Farrar (Kiwiblog) is perplexed by the government’s extraordinary generosity to Ngapuhi, which he sums up as $150 million for not settling!
  • Under the heading Disproving the big lie, Farrar provides data which debunks government claims that race-based electorates must be established to ensure “equity” in local government representation.

Continue reading “How the Education Ministry has rewritten treaty history, the govt has been generous to Nga Puhi and Maori wards are not needed”

Creative NZ gives support to the art of pressing MPs to change “racist” law and facilitate race-based voting systems

Creative New Zealand – a generous supporter of  artistic projects it considers worthy – is supporting writing which promotes the contentious notion that the Treaty of Waitangi calls for race-based voting arrangements in local government.

Yes, this is the outfit that administers the Arts Continuity Grant, a Covid-19 response fund which came to the attention of the Taxpayers Union when it had paid out $16 million in grants to a variety of questionable short-term arts projects.

Since March, Creative NZ has offered grants of up to $50,000 for ‘a short-term arts project, or the stage of a project, that can be delivered within a changed and evolving environment as a result of COVID-19.’

Many of the descriptions of these projects are, frankly, incomprehensible. It’s hard to see how bureaucrats in Creative NZ can make an objective judgment on which projects are worthy of funding, and which aren’t.

Among the 637 beneficiaries of taxpayer funding under the grant at that time were:

  • Eamonn Marra – To research and write the first draft of a novel about male affection in hypermasculine spaces. Awarded $13,000
  • Duncan Sarkies – Towards writing a novel about the collapse of democracy in an association of alpaca breeders. Awarded $26,000.
  • Rosemarie Kirkup – Towards the development of a first draft of a play that explores the menstrual cycle. Awarded $16,766.
  • Imogen Taylor – Towards development of a new body of work exploring modernism, feminism & queerness, with specific reference to the Otago region. Awarded $30,089.

Creative New Zealand also sponsors contributions to The Spinoff which deal not so much with the arts as with politics and governance issues. Continue reading “Creative NZ gives support to the art of pressing MPs to change “racist” law and facilitate race-based voting systems”

Monitoring (or is it oversight?) gets good results in Westland but the Canterbury DHB requires strong medicine

Central government monitoring seems to have done the trick on one side of the Southern Alps.  Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has declared she is satisfied “the close monitoring” of the Westland District Council by an Oversight Committee can draw to a close.

he had written to the council in July and September last year, expressing concerns about poor processes, dysfunctional governance and management, non-compliance with policies, and natural hazard management. Later in the year she established an Oversight Committee comprising key government agencies to support the council as it worked to improve its performance.

But she seemed curiously disinclined to call it monitoring.

In a statement on November 26 she said:

“The Council has heard the extent of the concerns raised and has taken steps to respond. Westland have demonstrated they are establishing governance committees to provide transparency of decision making, putting in systems and frameworks for policies and processes, and learning from pas t experience”.

But she said there was benefit “from a level of oversight” and had tasked an existing group to provide support to the council to support necessary changes.

Continue reading “Monitoring (or is it oversight?) gets good results in Westland but the Canterbury DHB requires strong medicine”

Maori monarch flexes muscle to make waterways off-limits but we may muse on the matter of legality

The Waikato and Waipa Rivers have been declared off limits during Level 3 of the Covid-19 emergency, prohibiting food gathering and all recreational activities on the waterways..

Elsewhere around the country people have been barred from going to some beaches by vigilante groups who set up checkpoints to impede the public.

In the case of the two rivers, the prohibition has been imposed by a former truck driver who now rejoices in the title of Māori King Tuheitia.

He has declared the rivers are subject to a rahui, a cultural and spiritual prohibition.  It came into effect on Monday.

The king’s authority to make a rahui binding on anyone who feels they should not be constrained by it is dubious.

Point of Order hoped Local Government New Zealand would guide us on King Tuheitia’s entitlement to bar people from swimming or fishing in the rivers or boating on them.  Continue reading “Maori monarch flexes muscle to make waterways off-limits but we may muse on the matter of legality”