Yet again, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is proposing a programme of change which would erode the mechanisms whereby citizens hold decision-makers to account.
Today she has announced plans to establish four publicly owned entities to take responsibility of drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure across New Zealand, claiming this will save ratepayers thousands of dollars and better ensure the $120 to $185 billion investment in services can be made.
Her release is part of a package of proposed reforms including the recent establishment of Taumata Arowai, the new water services regulator, and the planned introduction of economic regulation. It includes the proposed boundaries of the four water providers, further details on the proposed water services entities, including governance arrangements, the role of iwi, and how they would be regulated.
Asked if she stood by all her government’s statements and actions at Question Time in Parliament yesterday, the PM assumed she would be grilled about COVID-19 and went on the front foot. Yes, she did stand by her government’s statements and actions,
… especially the proactive work we are undertaking in response to COVID-19, including border measures, requirements around self-isolation as part of our pandemic plan, and public health messaging. They are just some of the measures that we are undertaking to ensure New Zealanders are kept healthy and well.
Fair enough – but Opposition leader Simon Bridges was thinking about the country’s economic health. He next asked if the PM was worried that
… the Reserve Bank estimates GDP growth was just 1.6 percent in 2019, the lowest since 2011?
We suppose he was referring to data in the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s recently published Monetary Policy Statement, which contained a troubling expectation that GDP (production, March quarter to March quarter) would slump from 3 per cent in 2018/19 to 1.6 per cent in 2019/20, climbing back to 3.4 per in 2020/21, then dropping to 2.2 per cent in 2021/22 and 1.9 per cent in 2022/23.
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.
Prince Charles has called for a new economic model in order to save the planet. Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he pleaded with world leaders and businesses to revolutionise the interaction between nature and global financial markets,saving the planet from “approaching catastrophe”.
In an unprecedented royal intrusion on government policy, he argues market-based solutions and tax reform are the best options to halt the damaging impacts of climate change.Outlining 10 ways to transform financial markets and reduce global emissions, Prince Charles said nothing short of a revolution was required.
“I’ve come to realise it is not a lack of capital holding us back but rather the way in which we deploy it. Therefore, to move forward we need nothing short of a paradigm shift – one that inspires action at revolutionary levels and pace.”
Already it is shaping as the most challenging year for National since it lost the Treasury benches in 2017. For Simon Bridges, it’s make-or-break for his leadership.
Going head-to-head with the Jacinda phenomenon, he has little chance of monstering her in television broadcasts, and even if he did it could backfire on National.
Bridges’ task is more complex. He has to prove himself as the Prime Minister-in-waiting, clearly the underdog in a contest where he cannot be seen to be shouting down his opponent.
Yet he must win enough support to overwhelm Labour and its coalition allies combined – a feat which far more popular National leaders (John Key or Bill English) could not achieve.
He will need more than a cunning plan, or the social media wizardry of the Topham Guerin team (who were credited with a key role first in Scott Morrison’s surprise election success and then with Boris Johnson’s triumph in the UK.
It’s probably just as well we are still on holiday and Wellington, aka the NZ Government, remains on the beach until Tuesday, January 22, the day after Wellington Anniversary Day. Even then, the mighty organs of government don’t really stir until the following Tuesday, after Auckland’s anniversary weekend when the great and good disport themselves on the waters of the Waitemata Harbour.
A few ministers mustered the energy to post congratulatory press statements after the New Year honours list was published.
And Winston Peters has been on call- huzzah! – to deal with happenings in the rest of the world.
Among the benefits of the government being on holiday, we’ve missed some fairly high-level dramas, sufficient to otherwise distract us from the Black Caps’ Australian debacle and tinted skies, thanks to the Australian bushfires . Then there’s the risk that the Australians might exercise a reverse deportation process, detaining PM Jacinda Adern and her to-be husband along with Baby Neve to install them in the Lodge, the Canberra residence of the Aussie prime minister.
Is the government digging itself into a hole as it awaits a solution to the problem of contested land at Ihumatao?
For two days in a row, PM Jacinda Ardern has backed away from questions over a Crown loan being used to purchase the land where a housing development has been held up because of a long-running protest.