Govt again hammers Russia with sanctions while on the home front it is building more state houses – and enriching some motel owners

Buzz from the Beehive

 New Zealand has struck further blows at Russia, one of them by imposing further sanctions on the armed forces and military-industrial complex of the Russian Federation.

The Insurance Company SOGAZ, the Russian Railways and defence entities that research, produce and test military hardware for the Russian Armed Forces are included in the latest lot of sanctions.

A second blow – this one was rhetorical– was struck by Phil Twyford, our Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control.

In a Statement to the 2022 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Twyford said the risk of nuclear weapons being used had increased dramatically along with dangerous rhetoric and exercises threatening such use. Continue reading “Govt again hammers Russia with sanctions while on the home front it is building more state houses – and enriching some motel owners”

Govt action against climate change includes pouring millions into troughs and inviting private sector to line up for a slurp

Buzz from the Beehive

Foreign affairs, agriculture, health and transport are among the burning issues which have been keeping our ministers, their policy advisers and their press secretaries busy in recent days.  Inviting oinkers to new freshly filled troughs was on the agenda, too.

Ministers had issued 13 new press statements when Point of Order checked this morning.  At time of writing the number of new statements had increased to 16, on subjects ranging from the agriculture sector’s agenda for dealing with climate change to the race-fixated restructuring of the health system.

On the foreign affairs front, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta was announcing additional sanctions on Russian state-owned enterprises and defence entities in response to the ongoing brutality in Ukraine, the PM was announcing a visit here this month by Samoa Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataʻafa 60 years after the Treaty of Friendship between the two countries was signed, and the PM was further announcing she will travel to Sydney this week for “an in-person meeting” with new Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. Continue reading “Govt action against climate change includes pouring millions into troughs and inviting private sector to line up for a slurp”

Buzz from the Beehive: O’Connor should win farmer plaudits for action against Canada but lose them for new high-country law

Our ministers have been variously focused on issues involving New Zealand’s foreign relationships – a rebuke for Russia, Covid vaccines for poorer countries and the pursuit of a trade dispute with Canada – and the regulation of activities in space.

Coming back to earth in the high country, legislation has been passed to overhaul the management of 1.2 million hectares of Crown pastoral land.

On the Covid front, the government is providing an updated My Vaccine Pass from 24 May, has  released data on Government funding dished out to support organisations, jobs and livelihoods in the arts and culture sector, and is updating its Care in the Community response as the number of households needing support to safely self-isolate with COVID-19 reduces.

As Land Information Minister, Damien O’Connor can expect criticism  from high country farmers after the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill passed its third reading (visit the Parliament website).

The Nats say they will repeal the changes effected by the new law in its next term of government, maintaining they effectively end a decades-old relationship between the Crown and high country pastoral leaseholders.

Leaseholders who have been effective custodians of this land for generations will be subjected to a punitive regime devoid of any knowledge of practical implementation, the Nats say.  Environmental outcomes worsen rather than improve.

As Trade and Export Growth Minister, on the other hand, O’Connor is behind New Zealand’s initiation of dispute settlement proceedings against Canada regarding its implementation of dairy tariff rate quotas (TRQs) under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

New Zealand considers Canada’s dairy TRQs to be inconsistent with its obligations under CPTPP, impeding New Zealand exporters from fully benefiting from the market access that was negotiated under the agreement.

Latest from the Beehive

13 MAY 2022

Aotearoa New Zealand provides further funding for global COVID-19 response

Aotearoa New Zealand is providing more funding to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator for global efforts to respond to the pandemic.

Updated My Vaccine Pass for those who want it

New Zealanders who are up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations will be able to download an updated My Vaccine Pass from 24 May.

Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill passes third reading

New legislation to modernise the management of 1.2 million hectares of Crown pastoral land primarily in the South Island high country was passed in Parliament today.

Aotearoa New Zealand condemns Russia’s malicious cyber activity against Ukraine

Aotearoa New Zealand strongly condemns the campaign of destructive cyber activity by Russia against Ukraine, alongside the EU and international partners, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.

Next steps signalled for space activity laws

The Government has released a review of the operation and effectiveness of the law controlling commercial space activities, and signalled a separate study on wider issues of space policy will begin later this year.

New Zealand initiates dispute settlement proceedings against Canada’s implementation of dairy quotas under CPTPP

New Zealand has initiated dispute settlement proceedings against Canada regarding its implementation of dairy tariff rate quotas (TRQs) under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Care in the Community pivots as NZ returns to greater normality

The Government is updating its Care in the Community (CiC) response as the number of households needing support to safely self-isolate with COVID-19 reduces.

Government’s support delivers path to recovery for arts and culture sector

The Government has today released data for three key Government support funds which were designed to support organisations, jobs and peoples livelihoods in the arts and culture sector.

Buzz from the Beehive: Kiwis are stuck with a Red light while more of Putin’s mates are given a red card

Location, location, location can be a strong influence on our general wellbeing as well as the value of our real estate.  The outlook for people still living in Mariupol, for example, is much more parlous than it is for people living – let’s say – in Motueka.

The era in which we live is important, too. We are better off today, despite the pandemic, than we would have been had we had to deal with the Bubonic Plague in Europe in the 14th century.

But what about our wellbeing a few decades from now?  The warming of the climate suggests life could become more challenging than now, depending on what is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

How well off we are – or the quality of our wellbeing – perhaps is a matter of putting hardship in perspective too.

In this country, Hospitality NZ says the government’s decision yesterday to hold the traffic light setting at Red indefinitely is “gutting” for many businesses.

But if that is gutting, how should the people of Ukraine describe their plight as revelations about Russian atrocities cause widespread dismay around the world?

As for the era in which we live, according to a new report from climate-change scientists, we are headed for a global catastrophe unless firm action is taken now to cut emissions.

Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Kiwis are stuck with a Red light while more of Putin’s mates are given a red card”

Buzz from the Beehive – the government releases first tranche of targeted sanctions (and says “take that, Vladimir!”)

The Government has stepped up its sanctions against Russia with the release of the first tranche of targeted sanctions under the Russia Sanctions Act enacted overnight.

At midnight last night

  • 364 additional political and military targets added to travel ban list
  • 13 individuals and 19 entities added to a targeted sanctions list, including prohibition of maritime vessels and aircraft and asset freezes

But as Newsroom reports, a prominent oligarch in the New Zealand spotlight remains off the list.

The sanctions aim to prevent New Zealand individuals, assets and financial institutions from having dealings with those designated, and prohibits their vessels and aircraft entering New Zealand.

Thus the government is censuring Russia – or further censuring it– as a rebuke for Vladimir Putin’s ordering the invasion of Ukraine.

 “The world is united against Putin’s actions in Ukraine, and only one week after passing historic legislation, we are joining the international community in applying our first targeted sanctions,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive – the government releases first tranche of targeted sanctions (and says “take that, Vladimir!”)”

The case for not ditching our vodka (as a gesture to admonish Putin) is that we might need it when Three Waters are flowing

 

Motivated by the Parliamentary consensus which resulted in the passage of historic sanctions legislation in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine, Point of Order has tipped out its Stolichnaya Vodka. 

Whether we should also burn the copy of The Brothers Karamazov that sits in the office book shelf is still under discussion at the PoO board table. 

Tipping out the vodka wasn’t an easy decision.  We risked doing something that would find favour with Nanaia Mahuta, whose smiles of approval we would prefer to avoid because the Three Waters programme she is dogmatically promoting is anathema to all members of the team. 

By our reckoning, the vodka is precious because it could well turn out to be cheaper than the water that flows through our taps after she has rammed her highly unpopular reforms into law.

Regardless of any price considerations (we further reasoned), we will need a stiff snifter or two for medicinal purposes to treat our depression after she has seriously watered down the country’s democratic arrangements with her co-governance plans. 

We were won over by the sentiments expressed in her press statement and by other MPs during the parliamentary debate on the new law. Continue reading “The case for not ditching our vodka (as a gesture to admonish Putin) is that we might need it when Three Waters are flowing”

Henare seems fixed on fighting Covid – we had to wait for Twyford for words of concern about Putin’s nuclear threat

As  Russian guns  bombard  Ukrainian cities and  the  world  watches in horror, New Zealanders, too, are recoiling at  Russia’s  aggression.  The  threat of  nuclear  weapons  being used compounds the shock of  war.  A devastating  human  cost is  being  borne by the  Ukrainian people.

So where  is  NZ’s  Minister of  Defence, Peeni Henare?  What does  he  think  of  the  invasion by  Russia  of  its  neighbour and its threat to use nuclear weapons?  And is he  checking   the  state  of  NZ’s  armed  forces, to be ready to do whatever must be done if Vladimir Putin sparks a wider war?

Henare spoke  in Parliament  yesterday  in the  general debate  (remotely) and  expressed his eagerly awaited thoughts.

He began by  endorsing the  words  of  Deputy  PM  Grant  Robertson  on what Wellingtonians have endured over the past weeks.  The occupation of the area around Parliament,  he thought, was

”… testament to the challenges that our people have faced in Wellington and in other parts of our country.  What we want, though, is for our country to go back to normal as quick as possible, and this Government’s focus is to make sure that where we can, we will secure our future off the great health decisions and the great health leadership that we have done to make sure our country comes through this particular pandemic”. Continue reading “Henare seems fixed on fighting Covid – we had to wait for Twyford for words of concern about Putin’s nuclear threat”

We are all Ukrainians now – for now anyway

It’s not as easy to sympathise with Donald Trump, as it is (or perhaps used to be) with Jacinda Ardern.  But sometimes it’s worth pushing yourself.

Take for example the coverage of his exclusive appearance on the – wait for it – Clay and Buck show.  

It was reported in the Daily Beast as:

“This time, the twice-impeached ex-president lauded the authoritarian leader’s “genius” invasion of Ukraine as “very savvy.””

You probably need to listen to Clay and Buck to pick up the sarcasm.

Continue reading “We are all Ukrainians now – for now anyway”

NZ govt condemns “Russia” in four statements but doesn’t mention Putin (the warmonger who ordered troops into Ukraine)

Win some (hopefully); lose some (but not too much).

We refer to New Zealand’s international trade and trade relationships.

While Trade Minister Damien O’Connor is packing his bags to build trade opportunities in Europe and the Middle East, the PM and the Minister of Foreign Affairs have been announcing  “targeted” travel bans against Russian Government officials and other individuals associated with the invasion of Ukraine and prohibiting the export of goods to Russian military and security forces.

For good measure, Energy and Resources Minister Dr Megan Woods has assured us that New Zealand won’t be affected by Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine and any resulting curtailment of Russian oil supply.

One good reason (as Woods explained) is that:

“New Zealand does not purchase any oil or oil products from Russia so would not be directly affected if Russian oil supply is curtailed.”  

Similarly, regarding the export ban, Ardern acknowledged

“exports from New Zealand under this category are limited … “

It should be noted (by the way) that the PM has not named the warmongering villain of the piece – Vladimir Putin – just as she and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta have not named him in three other press statements this week while they expressed this country’s dismay at  the invasion of Ukraine.  Continue reading “NZ govt condemns “Russia” in four statements but doesn’t mention Putin (the warmonger who ordered troops into Ukraine)”

The day it all changed

 As Russian forces raise their horizons and start killing more Ukrainians in what seems to be a full-on invasion, Britain’s PM, Boris Johnson, got the stakes right when he said “this mission must end in failure”.

That covers a multiplicity of outcomes of varying bloodiness – but the logic is that conflict continues until the goal is reached.  It may take quite a while then.

The phrase game changing is overused, but – in the sense of recognition of a profound change in direction – it might well be applicable in this case.

Continue reading “The day it all changed”