Pacific Reset has climate change challenges in its sights – but China is a consideration, too

Defence Minister Ron Mark, when restating the government’s Pacific Reset at the multi-national Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore earlier this month, explained a shift in regional and operational imperatives.

He said:

“The Reset is both a vision, and a commitment to lift our ambition as part of the Pacific community. It is about changing our mind-set toaddress the increasingly complex issues in our region. It emphasises both what we are doing in the region, as well as how we operate.  Foremost, it is about genuine partnership and mutual respect.  In many ways the Pacific region is where NZ matters most and can have a more positive impact.  It is our neighbourhood, and where we most certainly act locally.

“Through our Strategic Defence Policy Statement, we raised the priority placed on our Defence Force’s ability to operate in the Pacific to the same level as New Zealand’s territory, the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.”

The Defence Capability Plan fleshed out this policy shift with details of new spending on ships, aircraft and surveillance by satellite and remotely-piloted vehicles. Continue reading “Pacific Reset has climate change challenges in its sights – but China is a consideration, too”

Yes, there’s lots of money in the PGF – but keep an eye on all the other troughs

The Point of Order Trough Monitor has drawn attention to a fresh batch of handouts from the public purse, reminding us that the Provincial Growth Fund isn’t the only trough in the capital.

Fair to say, in the case of Education Minister Chris Hipkin, the press statement which triggered the trough monitor related to the government’s spending on tertiary fees in the past year.

The statement was deftly crafted to camouflage the cost to taxpayers.  Rather, it brayed that first-year students have been spared the repayment burden that would have resulted from hundreds of millions of dollars in loan borrowing.

On the other hand, Winston Peters unabashedly has announced fresh handouts from a fund in his Racing ministerial bailiwick and encouraged racing clubs to apply for a place at the next serving from this trough. Continue reading “Yes, there’s lots of money in the PGF – but keep an eye on all the other troughs”

Defence allies are expected to welcome NZ’s $20bn Defence Capability Plan

Defence Minister Ron Mark will unveil the latest Defence Capability Plan tomorrow.  Our various contacts expect it to be a significant document affirming an on-going positive approach to NZ defence policy involving expenditure of $20bn out to 2030.

The plan is expected to reaffirm the Pacific Reset programme announced by Foreign Minister Winston Peters – and spelled  out again in his recent Pacific foray.

There will be big-ticket items: a replacement for the 50-year-old RNZAF Hercules, a new dedicated southern ocean offshore patrol vessel and a downgrading of the inshore patrol fleet, new IED-proofed armoured vehicles for the Army and a shift into unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for both maritime surveillance and tactical use to complement the vast intelligence-gathering resources of the RNZAF’s new Boeing P-8A Poseidons, due in service from 2023. Continue reading “Defence allies are expected to welcome NZ’s $20bn Defence Capability Plan”

Ron Mark is readying to flesh out details of budget boost to defence spending

In a couple of weeks Defence Minister Ron Mark will unveil the next update in the government’s defence capability plan.  This is expected to flesh out some of the basic information provided in last Thursday’s budget, which earmarked $5.06bn for defence, a substantial 23% increase over the budgeted 2018-19 defence allocation of $4.11bn.

A major item is expected to be the replacement for the RNZAF’s Lockheed Hercules.

The Lockheed Martin C-130J is the choice of the NZ Defence Force despite the attractions of other candidates, including the Embraer KC390 turbo-fan and the Japanese Kawasaki C-2.  Both are new and as Point of Order has explained before, the NZDF is reluctant  to choose a new type which isn’t operated by  the country’s closest allies. Continue reading “Ron Mark is readying to flesh out details of budget boost to defence spending”

Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters

Many New  Zealanders may  be unaware that China, home to  half the world’s pigs, is suffering  a  catastrophic outbreak of African swine fever.  According  to  one  authoritative estimate, the disease may have  wiped out one-third of the population  of 500m  pigs.

The  London  “Economist”  says  that for as long  as it takes  China’s pig industry  to recover —which may be   years—farmers  elsewhere  may have  cause to  celebrate.  Yet  foreign producers cannot  make up  the vast amount of production  which  will be  lost —and American pig farmers have tariffs imposed on them as part of the ongoing trade  war  with China.

So, as  Point of Order sees it,  a big opportunity is opened for  NZ  food  producers, particularly  meat exporters,  to  be  diverting  as  much of their product  as  they can to  China.

And where’s  Foreign Minister Winston Peters  or  Trade  Minister  David Parker  in  promoting  meat sales to  China? Continue reading “Pig catastrophe in China opens opportunities for NZ meat exporters”

Why Winston Peters should be paying heed to the outcome of Australia’s climate change election

Winston Peters is too astute a  politician to be oblivious to the outcome  in what Opposition  parties  across  the  Tasman labelled  the  “climate change  election”.   Almost  certainly,  when he spoke   in the debate    of  the  Climate  Change Response  (Zero Carbon)  Amendment  Bill  on  Tuesday  afternoon,  he  was  thinking  of  how  the  Australian Federal  Labor  Party  lost the  “unloseable” election simply because  it  campaigned so hard  on   what  voters  assessed  as  too demanding,  and too costly, measures to  combat  global  warming.

How  else to explain   his  rambling  defence  of   NZ First’s  support  for  the  bill?    It  was,  almost   word  by word, as if   he  could feel  support  for  NZ   First in the rural  regions  evaporating.

He  started by   asking  why the House  was  having the  debate.  His  answer:  because the previous National  government had  signed up to the  Paris  Agreement.

He  went  on to  say  the  bill  fulfills NZ First’s agreement with Labour to establish a Climate Change Commission, “but one that does not resemble the statutory or arbitrary or final powers of the Reserve Bank”\, Continue reading “Why Winston Peters should be paying heed to the outcome of Australia’s climate change election”

It looks like taxpayers (for now) have been spared the air fare to fly Bridges to Washington

Deputy PM Winston Peters, leading off the general debate  in Parliament  this week,  had  some  fun at  the  expense  of  Opposition  Leader  Simon  Bridges.

Predicting the early demise of National’s leader, Peters said Bridges had  cancelled  an overseas  tour.

Just the other day Mr Bridges, who is planned and appointed to go to Washington, which is the annualised tour for the Leader of the Opposition to go to Washington, decided to cancel. Why? Well, he’s too scared that if he’s away—

SPEAKER: Order! Order!

PETERS: Oh, he’s too worried that if he’s away—I can’t challenge his fortitude, but he’s so worried that if he is away, the mice will play. Can I just say this: you know, he should go, because even an inmate deserves a last meal—a last meal. He should go. National is a party of four d’s: distracted, divided, desperate, and divisive. The Government’s a party of four d’s: driven, determined, dynamic, and delightful”. Continue reading “It looks like taxpayers (for now) have been spared the air fare to fly Bridges to Washington”