Muller’s resignation has election implications for the smaller parties as well as for the Nats

So is the election   now  a  foregone  conclusion?  With    Jacindamania  still raging,  and the  National Party shattered  by  its  own shambolic  performance,   it  looks  like  a   walk in the  park  for  the Labour Party  and  its   coalition  partners.

Certainly  NZ  First   leader  Winston  Peters  wasn’t   slow   to rub  salt  into  the  wounded  Nats.

After  a  cursory  nod to  National’s departed  leader  Todd Muller   (“ a  good man”), Peters  said:

National has demonstrated to voters as clearly as it is able that it cannot govern itself.  During a time of crisis, when stability and real experience is what the country needs from its politicians and their parties, National’s instability and hubris takes it out of the running for the coming General Election.”

Swinging   the boot  a  bit harder,  Peters  went  on:

Leading a divided and incompetent caucus would have tested even the best leader. Continue reading “Muller’s resignation has election implications for the smaller parties as well as for the Nats”

Jian Yang is mentioned in despatches to the WSJ as policies on China are re-calibrated in the West

Around the world, western governments are re-calibrating their foreign policy, strategic and economic settings to China.  Tomorrow the British Cabinet will review and probably revoke an earlier decision to allow Huawei Technologies Co into the next 5G network over security concerns. NZ and Australia have already taken this step.

Over the weekend President Donald Trump says he doesn’t even think about a phase two of China-US trade policy.  Washington has been angered by the new China-Iran trade and economic agreement, although critics say US embargoes are strangling much of Iran’s economic life and this has driven Tehran into Beijing’s embrace.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said  the government is reviewing relationships over a wide range with Hong Kong in response to Beijing’s latest restrictions. Canberra is almost apoplectic, according to our correspondent, and its new defence strategic study paints a challenging picture of rising tensions requiring massive spending on new weapons,  but doesn’t say from whom. No prizes for guessing. Continue reading “Jian Yang is mentioned in despatches to the WSJ as policies on China are re-calibrated in the West”

Woods calls in the cops, Peters calls in the doctors and – is this news any more? – millions are pumped into Northland

Latest from the Beehive – 

Hard on the heels of the government promising help for the Southland economy in the wake of Rio Tinto’s decision to close the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, it was announcing the delivery of more money to the North, at the other end of the country.

Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced a somewhat modest $361,447 grant from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF) for waste reduction and recycling programmes in Kaipara.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones (we suspect he wouldn’t bother getting out of bed to announce a sum of that size) more grandly announced a multi-million-dollar investment in Whangārei for infrastructure projects:

“More than 200 jobs are expected to be created through the $26 million investment from the Government’s rejuvenation package aimed at kick-starting the post COVID-19 economic rebuild.

“The funding is an investment in the wellbeing infrastructure of Whangārei, covering a group of projects identified by the region as priorities. They include a cultural centre, new mixed transport pathways and sports and trades training facilities. 

“Building infrastructure is a key component of our economic recovery plan. It creates jobs and provides much-needed economic stimulus. Money invested now will reap rewards later as we take care of our communities.”

Another big announcement came from Housing Minister Megan Woods in connection with her job in charge of Covid-19 quarantine management. Continue reading “Woods calls in the cops, Peters calls in the doctors and – is this news any more? – millions are pumped into Northland”

Malaysia has missed out on hosting APEC next year – and a virtual conference means we miss out on bringing world leaders to NZ

An interesting tale of international diplomacy has emerged over NZ’s decision to turn next year’s round of APEC meetings – including the leaders’ summit – into a virtual event.

NZ had to fight off a determined bid by the 2020 host, Malaysia, which hoped it could have its hosting rights carried over to next year because of the disruption caused by the pandemic.  That would have meant NZ lost out because South Vietnam will host APEC in 2022.

Hanoi reportedly insisted on the previously agreed rotation and finding a solution involved lobbying in APEC’s 20 other capitals. Had Malaysia been successful, NZ would have had to wait another decade.

Wellington might have scored an own goal, however, by converting the November 2021 leaders’ meeting into a virtual event. Some observers felt this decision could have been delayed till early next year, possibly around February. Continue reading “Malaysia has missed out on hosting APEC next year – and a virtual conference means we miss out on bringing world leaders to NZ”

How the Greens’ wealth tax proposal could be a political lifeline for Winston Peters and his party

The  Green Party’s  major new election  policy  for  a  wealth  tax has, not  unexpectedly,  had a mixed  reception, not   least  from  politicians of  other parties.

The  policy  to  tax the  wealthy  to  fund a payment of at least  $325 a week   for anyone  not  in  full-time  work,  predictably brought  cheers  from  trade  unions  and  child  poverty  lobby groups.  But it provoked scorn  from  the  other side of the  fence,  where  the  idea undermines  the  core  principle  of  capitalism as  the  driver of  economic  growth.

Interestingly,  one  sample of   public opinion  on the issue   showed   85%  against—and   only 15% in favour.

But  that lopsided  result has its  upside for  the Greens   and brings a  glow to those  within  the Green Party  who worked  up  the policy.  It  could  guarantee    the  Green   Party  is  not   overwhelmed    by  the halo effect  at  present  enveloping   Prime Minister    Jacinda  Ardern,   which  could result  in  the  kind of election landslide  delivering an outright majority  in Parliament for Labour.

If it  lifted the Green  Party’s  current  ratings  of  around 6-7%  to  double-digit levels   it  would be a  major  victory.   Continue reading “How the Greens’ wealth tax proposal could be a political lifeline for Winston Peters and his party”

Northland projects get a further boost from the PGF trough – and Jones hasn’t forgotten his forestry ambitions

New Zealand First ministers seem to be doing nicely, thank you, in demonstrating to the good people of Northland that they have the best interests of the local economy at heart.

The Point of Order Trough Monitor has recorded two fresh press releases announcing more millions of public monies headed north for projects already boosted by Provincial Growth Fund money in that part of the country.

Isn’t that the home patch for some New Zealand First leaders? We do believe it is.

The PGF late in 2018 provided $13.9m towards the construction of the Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangarei.

And yesterday – hurrah! – Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced an additional $4.5 million for the centre.

The Ministers said the art centre will house two galleries. The first will be only gallery outside of Austria to house a permanent display of artist Friedrich Hundertwasser’s art, worth millions of dollars. The Wairau Maori Art Gallery will become the national home to the best examples of contemporary Māori art.

“The art centre is estimated to bring in an economic benefit of $26 million to the region and more than 250,000 visitors to Whangarei annually, in line with the number of visitors the Hundertwasser toilets attract in Kawakawa,” Mr Jones said.  Continue reading “Northland projects get a further boost from the PGF trough – and Jones hasn’t forgotten his forestry ambitions”

Perhaps we need Peters to temper the adulation and prevent the landslide re-election of the Ardern government

Jacinda Ardern and her  government  have  won global admiration  for  vanquishing the coronavirus.  At  home   their ratings   have soared.  Polls  show  more than  80%  of  those  sampled  support  the  way  the government  handled  the  pandemic  crisis.

New Zealanders  accept  without a blink the  virus is  universal  and  ubiquitous, a  threat to all humankind.  They  celebrate  how  as  part  of a team of  5 million   led  by  Ardern   (and Ashley  Bloomfield – whoever thought a public servants would become such a  cult  figure?)  they   repulsed  Covid-19.

There  is  adulation of  the  kindness  and compassion  displayed  by the  Prime Minister.

Other  governments, by  comparison,  have been  condemned for  their  bungling and  incompetence, the failures of   their  public  health systems,  and  death tolls criticised as needless.

Foreign affairs  commentator  Simon Tisdall  in The  Guardian  says  a  new  age of  revolution  is  dawning —  but  just  what  kind of  revolution it  may be    will rest on how the pandemic’s  shock waves and  after-effects are directed  and  shaped. Continue reading “Perhaps we need Peters to temper the adulation and prevent the landslide re-election of the Ardern government”

Why you shouldn’t put money on Peters being unhorsed over his bluntness on China

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has offended many of New Zealand’s China cognoscenti in trade and politics and raised fears that his bluntness will   provoke  the kind of  reaction  from China similar to that which it has applied  in its trade with  Australia .

Some reckon he is out of step with the PM. Others  have called for  him  to be sacked.

Those in the latter group may have other motives for their advice.   Point of Order’s inquiries, however, suggest that he and PM Jacinda Ardern are playing the old “good cop-bad cop” routine straight out of old Hollywood crime thrillers.

Peters beats up on Beijing and its ambassador here, Madame Wu Xi.  Ardern offers emollient expressions of everlasting sisterhood.

The message is clear, though,   both on Lambton Quay and the Chaoyang District, Beijing, home of China’s  foreign ministry. Continue reading “Why you shouldn’t put money on Peters being unhorsed over his bluntness on China”

Peters goes hard on China – now let’s see if NZ falls prey to Beijing’s intimidating pack of “wolf warriors”

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has been challenged over his robust approach to China.

First, he disclosed this week that Beijing’s foreign minister had tried to talk him out of NZ’s coronavirus lockdown.

Second, China’s diplomats in Wellington have become much more active.  The ambassador has already been called into MFAT over some of her remarks.

Now the NZ ambassador in Beijing has been called into the foreign ministry to “explain” why NZ supports admission of Taiwan as an observer to the World Health Assembly, run by the World Health Organisation.

NZ joins other countries in making its case for Taiwan to join the World Health Assembly, because of Taiwan’s record of handling the Covid-19 pandemic.  Neither Wellington nor other capitals challenge China’s “one China” policy.

Continue reading “Peters goes hard on China – now let’s see if NZ falls prey to Beijing’s intimidating pack of “wolf warriors””

Davis has been even-handed (almost) in Budget help for tourism and Maori – but Peters boosted racing much more handsomely

We imagine Kelvin Davis is being hailed for his services to Maori through his portfolio as Minister of Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti but perhaps not so much for his services to tourism as Minister of Tourism.

At least, not when the headline numbers of handouts and help for Maori and for tourism are spotted.

The Government will invest over $900 million in response to COVID-19 “to support our whānau, tamariki and all Māori so we can rebuild together”, Māori ministers (including Davis) announced.   [See update below]

Tourism gets a $400 million targeted Tourism Recovery Fund (but it also benefits from an extension of the Wage Subsidy Scheme and a domestic tourism campaign).

One commentator (if we heard correctly) drew attention to those numbers and noted that tourism was being short-changed with $400 million, compared with the $900 million being provided for Maori.

More obviously, tourism leaders could complain they have been short-changed compared with the racing industry. Continue reading “Davis has been even-handed (almost) in Budget help for tourism and Maori – but Peters boosted racing much more handsomely”