Buzz from the Beehive
China is a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, along with countries such as Eritrea, Somalia and Libya, despite their shabby records when it comes to political rights and civil liberties.
We can only conjecture on what they must do to rile our government – and others – and be kicked off the council.
But today we can celebrate the news that Iran has been booted off the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, the first time a member state has been removed, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
She welcomed the news in a statement headed –
New Zealand is welcoming the successful removal overnight of Iran from the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women, the first time a member state has been, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. Continue reading “Take that, Iran – but what must countries do to be considered unfit for sitting on the UN Human Rights Council?” →
Buzz from the Beehive
The most triumphal statement posted on the Beehive website today came from Nanaia Mahuta, to bray about the Water Services Entities Bill passing its third reading in Parliament.
The Bill was supported only by Labour MPs, but they have enough numbers in Parliament to turn it into law regardless of the weight of public opposition and the objections of other political parties in the House of Representatives.
As Minister of Local Government, Nanaia Mahuta issued a statement to note that this is the first of three bills intended to ensure affordable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services is provided to New Zealanders “now and into the future
The Government has laid foundations for safe and affordable water services with the Water Services Entities Bill passing its third reading in Parliament. Continue reading “Mahuta’s Three Waters bill flows through the third reading stage – but only Labour MPs voted in support of it” →
Buzz from the Beehive
Hard on the heels of Chris Hipkins announcing an embarrassing U-turn on one (but only one) contentious aspect of the government’s Three Waters legislation, ministers seemed keen to remind the voters what a splendid government we have.
Each of three Beehive statements since the U-turn involved initiatives and handouts to improve our wellbeing.
Mind you, the benefits will be enjoyed in one case only by people living in certain parts of the country –
Forty-six councils across Aotearoa New Zealand, from large metro centres to small provincial towns, will receive funding to implement more transport options for communities, as part of the Transport Choices package 2022-24, Transport Minister Michael Wood announced today.
In other words, 46 councils have successfully lined up for goodies served from the Transport Choices trough, a $350m “package” which aims to provide people in communities around the country with a wider range of efficient, cost effective and sustainable transport options. Continue reading “46 councils sought funding from a $350m transport trough – and 46 councils are given funds (but we don’t know how much)” →
Buzz from the Beehive
Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta popped up today to announce the Government has updated its travel warnings for Iran and is urging New Zealanders in that country to get out.
Reiterating the existing “Do Not Travel” warning, the new advice says the risk to safety in Iran is significant because of the potential for violent civil unrest, the risk of arrest or detention and the volatile security situation in the region.
This is the first time a ministerial warning about travelling to Iran has been posted on the Beehive website since March 14 2020, when the PM mentioned that country in a statement about a comprehensive package of measures being introduced to protect New Zealanders from COVID-19
One of eight bullet points in the statement at that time simply said
- Existing travel ban retained for China and Iran
So what has prompted Mahuta’s warning today? Continue reading “Travelling twosome obviously ignored warnings to avoid Iran – but now they are safe, can the PM get tougher with Tehran?” →
Buzz from the Beehive
Wow. The long weekend seems to have been a powerful pick-me-up for our politicians, who have pumped out a raft of statements over the past two days.
Most of their press releases were to alert us to decisions to improve our wellbeing, although we wonder if that’s the case when we retaliate against President Putin for his antics in Ukraine. He is threatening to up the ante by unleashing some of his nuclear weapons, after all.
Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta nevertheless has announced the imposition of further sanctions on members of Putin’s inner circle and other representatives of the Russian political elite, as part of the Government’s ongoing response to the war in Ukraine.
Since the passing of the Russia Sanctions Act in March, New Zealand has imposed sanctions on over 1000 individuals and entities,
“… a key part of our efforts to hold Russia accountable and support Ukraine,” Nanaia Mahuta said. Continue reading “More Russians on the sanctions list – that will punish Putin’s cronies, but what might he do next to express his displeasure?” →
This country’s relations with the Pacific were the subjects of two fresh statements from the Beehive and were mentioned in despatches from Washington, although nothing suggested Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta would be headed to look up our near neighbours any time soon.
Mahuta’s contribution was to announce the appointment of Don Higgins as the next Administrator of Tokelau.
“Aotearoa New Zealand is first and foremost a Pacific nation. We value the strong and enduring relationships that we have with countries throughout the region, and I know these will only continue to grow,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
The Administrator’s role is to support the Tokelau Government to deliver quality public services to the people of Tokelau, and to help manage the relationship between our countries.
Higgins will also oversee New Zealand’s development assistance to Tokelau, which is focused on strengthening Tokelau’s resilience to climate change, and includes “major investments” in education, internet connectivity, and renewable energy. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Pacific is discussed in PM’s chat with Biden while Nash has ‘Plan’ to transform manufacturing” →
Good trade news has flowed from the office of Damien O’Connor in the form of a report showing how this country’s high-tech exports are faring in the United States. But much better in terms of the immediate economic boost was news from the PM that the Government is bringing forward the date for opening the border to tourists in time for the Australian school holidays.
Accompanying this, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash announced a new tourism marketing campaign is being launched in Australia this week to build demand for travel here.
Nash’s statement gave no hint of the costs involved. It did say:
- Historically, 71 per cent of all international tourists who came to ski have been Australians, who generated more than $211 million in winter spending; and
- The government will keep rolling out direct investment from its two tourism support packages worth $600 million in targeted spending. Further details are due shortly.
These announcements were timely. The latest official statistics today show the seasonally adjusted current account deficit widened to $6.5 billion in the December 2021 quarter, from $4.7 billion in the September 2021 quarter. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive – PM broadcasts a bulletin about the breakdown of border barriers to boost tourist businesses” →
Monitoring the Ministers
A raft of appointments has been announced over the past 24 hours – an ambassador to Turkey, a consul-general to Guangzhou, a chair for KiwiRail, a deputy inspector-general of intelligence and security and an advisory panel for the same outfit.
Oh – and remember Clare Curran? The former Labour Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media has landed a job on the board of a Crown company, Network for Learning (N4L).
In other announcements, the government joined the disabled community in marking and celebrating the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall congratulated Covid testing teams around New Zealand for reaching the five million tests milestone.
Another big health-related statement came from Health Minister Andrew Little, who said care for the sickest New Zealanders is getting a major boost from the government, with plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on expanding intensive care-type services.
As the country shifts to the traffic-light system, he said (somewhat ominously)
“… we need to make sure we can cope with the unexpected.”
Cabinet has earmarked $100 million of capital funding from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to accelerate these intensive care unit projects. Another $544 million of operational funding is available to fund ongoing costs like staffing.
But Point of Order was drawn to another of Little’s press statements, issued to accompany his release of an interim report by an independent panel reviewing the national pharmaceuticals-buying agency Pharmac. Continue reading “Pharmac should brace for a dose of medicine to perk up its Treaty performance and (all going well) lift Maori health outcomes” →
Latest from the Beehive
Fresh from the legislative outrage of rushing the “traffic lights” bill through Parliament, the government poured $504.1 million earlier today into initiatives to help Kiwis deal with Covid-19 in its latest responses to the reality that Covid-19 is something we must learn to live with.
That was the sum when Point of Order first checked the Beehive website this morning.
By the time we were wrapping up this post an announcement from Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall had increased this by almost $1 billion on measures for testing, contact tracing and case investigation
Quicker testing will be among the consequences.
“Delta is here, so we are ensuring we have the tools in place to support the transition to the new framework, and to help minimise the spread of COVID-19,” Ayesha Verrall said.
Yep. The government has waved the flag of surrender in its efforts to beat the virus and has changed the rules for trying to constrain its spread.
Most controversially, this is being done by constraining Kiwis freedoms – if they have not been vaccinated – under legislation which has been passed in indecent haste. Continue reading “Govt rushes freedom-crimping measures past close scrutiny – ministers then go spending big bucks to tackle Covid-19” →
We trust Health Minister Andrew Little got his numbers right when he addressed the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists at a Virtual Conference on Equity of Health Outcomes for New Zealand.
One figure in the speech posted on The Beehive website seriously inflates the extra spending earmarked in this year’s Budget for Pharmac (obviously it’s an innocent typo).
The team at Point of Order long ago learned to be wary, if not downright suspicious, when politicians bandy numbers. More often than not the figures they brag about will be challenged by political opponents who produce contradictory data or put matters into a very different perspective.
For example, earlier this week we reported a statement by Jacinda Ardern, Minister in Charge of Child Poverty Reduction: Continue reading “Let’s not quibble about a typo – instead we should admire Little’s readiness to list achievements with mental health spending” →