How can NZ get the most from immigrants? Teach them te reo and bring the Treaty into policy considerations, report says

If  the government believed   it   would  gain  some profound insights   into immigration  policy  when  it  sought  a  report from  the  Productivity  Commission,  it  may  have  to look  elsewhere.

ACT leader David  Seymour  was one  of  the  first  out of the  blocks  to  give the  report  (and  the  government)  a  whack, saying   the Productivity Commission’s latest report confirms Labour isn’t seriously committed to growing productivity.

The commission has proposed that migrants should learn te reo to gain

“… insights into te ao Māori and tangata whenua […] promote better understanding of New Zealand’s bicultural nature [and] acknowledge the status of te reo as an official language and taonga.”

Seymour said this is a nice-sounding idea, but the purpose of the commission is to lift productivity, not to improve race relations. Continue reading “How can NZ get the most from immigrants? Teach them te reo and bring the Treaty into policy considerations, report says”

Paul Hunt brings the govt to heel on mandatory vaccinations – don’t forget the Treaty and our human rights, he urges

Latest from the Beehive

Business responses to the Government’s announcement on vaccination requirements for workers were supportive.  The Human Rights Commission response was more tentative.

It welcomed the announcement but said human rights and Treaty of Waitangi considerations must be examined.

Back in 1840 the examination of those treaty considerations would not have taken long.  The treaty’s three articles can be read in a matter of minutes and none of those articles mentions vaccines.

Nowadays the examination can be expected to take much longer, keeping a small army of academics, lawyers,  social scientists and what-have-you engaged in earnest deliberations on the need to recognise concepts such as “partnership” and “treaty principles” that politicians and the courts have introduced in recent years.

The government’s announcement essentially was that: Continue reading “Paul Hunt brings the govt to heel on mandatory vaccinations – don’t forget the Treaty and our human rights, he urges”

Check out what is missing from climate reporting law – but Govt has ensured the Treaty plays a part in trade deal with UK

Latest from the Beehive

Press statements and ministerial speeches were flowing into Point of Order’s email in-tray faster than the government’s publicists could post them on the Beehive website this morning. 

The outpouring included news that the parts of Waikato in Alert Level 3 will remain at that alert level till Wednesday.  

More significantly, the PM addressed the nation in Churchillian terms:

 Today I’m speaking directly to all New Zealanders to share a plan that will help us stay safe from COVID-19 into the future.

 A future where we want to continue to protect people’s lives, but also to live our lives – as safely as possible.

This speech was accompanied by other ministerial speeches and announcements dealing with something the PM described as 

 “… the new framework we will use to help us minimise the impact of COVID, and protect ourselves”.

It included an economic support package (especially for supporting Auckland businesses) and a plan (with more money) to accelerate Māori vaccination rates.

Inevitably this did not satisfy the government’s political opponents. Continue reading “Check out what is missing from climate reporting law – but Govt has ensured the Treaty plays a part in trade deal with UK”

Maori Health Authority must engage with “relevant” groups under new Bill – but guess who gets to define “relevant”?

As we expected when we last reported news from the Beehive, Health Minister Andrew Little has introduced his health reform bill to Parliament to abolish the country’s district health boards and centralise the provision of health services.  Most notably, the Bill segregates the country’s health services by establishing a Māori Health Authority and formalising the role of iwi-Māori partnerships.

Compared with the existing legislation, moreover, it significantly expands on the place of the Treaty of Waitangi in health legislation.

There is plenty to digest in the Bill – the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill –  and your Point of Order team has not thoroughly examined it. But we were fascinated by some of the accountability provisions for the new Māori Health Authority.

This authority must

… have systems in place for the purpose of engaging with Māori in relation to their aspirations and needs for the health system; enabling the responses from that engagement to inform the performance of its functions; and

 “engage with relevant Māori organisations” when—

    • jointly developing the New Zealand Health Plan with Health New Zealand; and
    • advising on the GPS and any health strategy; and 
    • preparing its statement of intent and statement of performance expectations.

A GPS is a Government Policy Statement.

But what is a “relevant” Māori organisation? Continue reading “Maori Health Authority must engage with “relevant” groups under new Bill – but guess who gets to define “relevant”?”

Health researchers measure the benefits of taking precautions – but they stumble when they bring the Treaty into considerations

The headline on a recent press statement from Massey University showed what great things emerge from state-funded research, although it seemed to state the obvious:  New research highlights the benefit of injury prevention measures in Māori households.

Was research really required to find it’s a good thing to take steps to prevent injuries in Maori households – or any household, come to think of it?

Introducing a few common-sense safeguards – you might think – would be good for the wellbeing of householders, regardless of race, in much the same way as we all would benefit from putting on warm clothing when the temperature drops or from looking for oncoming traffic before crossing the road.

Ah – but the research gives us a number:  relatively low-cost modifications in homes can prevent 31 per cent of fall injuries in Maori households.

The cost of the study (if our researchers have tracked down the relevant information) was $786,851.52, a sum which was provided by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC), the government’s principal funder of health research. Continue reading “Health researchers measure the benefits of taking precautions – but they stumble when they bring the Treaty into considerations”

Brace yourself for the peddling of propaganda and try to relish the experience (because you have paid for it with your taxes)

We weren’t surprised, at Point of Order, to see the scant media attention paid to a statement issued yesterday by ACT leader David Seymour.  

Headed  Government’s questionable media funding, the statement notes how the Government

“… is extending its tentacles into nearly every area of media with an offer too good to refuse for each outlet, and it has rapidly reached absurdity with taxpayer money spent on journalism to check on Government expenditure of taxpayer money”.

The statement was triggered by the announcement of the first tranche of the government’s $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund.

As RNZ’s Mediawatch reported,  Māori journalism projects and a new training initiative are the major beneficiaries of the first $10m, but some of the money goes to things already funded from the public purse.

Mediawatch further noted

“… this is the biggest single public investment in journalism for decades and takes the total annual spend on media to over $300m. (There’s another $20m up his sleeve if Cabinet thinks the media need that too.)  

“Media companies big and small, local and national, public and private alike can all apply to the fund – including those which have never had public money before.”

Oh – but let’s not forget the need for recipients of this lolly to push a highly political ideological barrow:

Guidelines issued in April also said the fund ‘must actively promote the principles of Partnership, Participation and Active Protection under Te Tiriti o Waitangi’.”  Continue reading “Brace yourself for the peddling of propaganda and try to relish the experience (because you have paid for it with your taxes)”

A question about the $55m media fund made Ardern laugh… but not for long

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This article was written for The Democracy Project by Graham Adams, a journalist, columnist and reviewer who has written for many of the country’s media outlets including Metro, North & South, Noted, The Spinoff and Newsroom.

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Surprisingly for a Minister of Finance, Grant Robertson is an ebullient, jolly sort of fellow and it is not unusual for him to barrack from his seat next to the Prime Minister in Parliament to support her.

This week, Judith Collins had barely finished putting a question to Jacinda Ardern about media funding when he guffawed derisively.

Collins asked:

What does she say to people who are concerned that her $55 million Public Interest Journalism Fund — which includes numerous criteria for media to adhere to — is influencing the editorial decisions of media outlets in New Zealand?”

The Prime Minister — perhaps encouraged by her deputy’s derision — rose from her seat to reply.

“Mr Speaker,” she declaimed emphatically, “I would abso-loot-ely reject that!”

With Robertson continuing to chortle at the ridiculousness of Collins’ question, Ardern was emboldened.

“But, better yet, Mr Speaker,” she said, grinning broadly and stifling a laugh: “I would put the question to the media and ask whether they agree with that sentiment.”

Despite the Prime Minister’s obvious glee and that of her colleagues, this was an exceedingly stupid retort. Presumably she is not acquainted with Mandy Rice-Davies’ contribution to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations as a result of the Profumo scandal in 1960s Britain. When legal counsel pointed out that a peer had denied having had an affair with her or even having met her, Rice-Davies uttered the immortal line:

“Well he would [say that], wouldn’t he?” Continue reading “A question about the $55m media fund made Ardern laugh… but not for long”

Waititi is championing a Treaty-based system of government – and we shouldn’t be surprised that democracy is not the objective

Democracy means government by the people, or a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

It is a state of society characterised by formal equality of rights and privileges.

And (in this definition, at least) it features 

 … the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges

Right there we can see why democracy might be problematic for Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi, who would have surprised nobody when he outlined his vision for a ‘tiriti-centric Aotearoa’ where the majority doesn’t rule over Māori

In other words, he wants Maori to be politically privileged.   

When he said this, he drew attention to a reality which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her ministers won’t publicly acknowledge – that our democracy is being gradually debilitated by measures her government (and its predecessors) have introduced or may introduce, depending on the outcome of consultations with some “key” Maori tribes on the controversial governance proposals promoted in the He Puapua document.

This is a so-called “independent” report into how New Zealand could fulfil its obligations to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which the country signed up to in 2010. Continue reading “Waititi is championing a Treaty-based system of government – and we shouldn’t be surprised that democracy is not the objective”

The dangers of putting media on the government’s payroll

Accusations by Stuff journalist Andrea Vance that the Prime Minister leads an unusually secretive government don’t tell the whole story about its desire to control information, says Graham Adams.

He has taken a closer look at the guidelines for the new $55 million journalism fund in an article for the Democracy Project

He writes:

Despite widespread cynicism about the Government’s ability to fulfil its promises — whether it is KiwiBuild, light rail along Dominion Rd, or planting a billion trees —  journalist Andrea Vance still found enough fresh outrage last week to launch a blistering attack over a pledge Jacinda Ardern made in 2017 to lead “a more open and democratic society” that would “strengthen transparency around official information”.

In fact, Ardern’s lack of transparency was on show very early in her prime ministership. Shortly after the 2017 election, she refused to release notes from the coalition negotiations between Labour and NZ First — leading one journalist to opine:

“A month seems early for a new government to dash hopes of a fresh start yet Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s team seems determined to break the speed record when it comes to disregard for public transparency.”

From Vance’s standpoint as a journalist, little seems to have improved since then.

The damning conclusion she arrived at after citing delays in responses to Official Information Act requests and ministers’ refusals to be interviewed was:

“At every level, the government manipulates the flow of information.”

It’s not difficult to find other instances of the Government denying access to important information in addition to those Vance mentioned — not least its record of obfuscation over significant details of its Covid-19 management and vaccination programme.

Examples of the kind Vance offered of the government hiding or distorting important information are the most obvious form of political censorship. There is, however, another form of political censorship which can be even more insidious — that is, attempting to impose narratives which suit the government’s purposes and thereby crowd out competing views. Continue reading “The dangers of putting media on the government’s payroll”

Consultations begin on proposals to penalise some vehicle owners and to rewrite matters of public record

Various consultations were triggered in weekend announcements from the Beehive, among them a consultation on government proposals to hasten the public’s purchase of low-emission vehicles to help meet New Zealand’s 2050 carbon neutral target (and – of course – “to create jobs to support the economic recovery”).

Among the proposals are rebates for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, to start on July 1 with up to $8,625 for new vehicles and $3,450 for used.

Sounds good – and that’s no doubt what the spin doctors intended.

To pay for this, imported cars with high emissions will cost extra from January next year.

Ah – and there’s the catch. 

The Automobile Association reckons Kiwis will pay roughly a $3000 penalty for their favourite utes from 2022 under the new rules.

The penalty under the Clean Car Discount package will apply to the likes of the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger – two of the top selling cars – and will come into effect in January 2022.

Another set of consultations has started on a Government Policy Statement on Housing and Urban Development (GPS-HUD), which will support the long-term direction of New Zealand’s housing and urban development system.

The Government’s climate change policies and aspirations come into play here, too.

And so does the government’s acquiescing to the yearning among some Maori for their own programmes, shaped and administered by Maori for Maori, helping to create an “us” and “them” society. Continue reading “Consultations begin on proposals to penalise some vehicle owners and to rewrite matters of public record”