Time to start washing and squashing your milk bottles – Hastings District Council has confirmed changes to its kerbside recycling.
From May 1, the only plastics that will be collected within the Hastings district are bottles stamped with the number 1 or 2, lids off, washed and squashed.
Those types of bottles include milk, soft drink, water, sauce and some laundry, kitchen and bathroom bottles.
The changes are due to international clampdowns.
China will no longer take plastics for recycling and the remaining markets are also closing their borders to almost all used plastics.
The majority of the remaining markets, in New Zealand and internationally, are for plastics stamped with the number 1 or 2.
Waste Futures Committee chairwoman Tania Kerr said the council needed the community’s help.
“We are disappointed to be in this position but given the ever-decreasing number of markets for used plastic, at this time we have no choice,” Kerr said.
“We want residents to be assured that we are continuing to look for ways to have our plastics recycled while also backing moves at a national level to reduce problem plastics, and encouraging people to try to buy products in plastics that can be recycled.”
Up until March this year, Hastings’ contractor had not had to send any of its collected plastics to the landfill or stockpile it.
“Hastings’ contractors have a good record of finding markets for our recycling but in order for that to continue there must be changes,” Kerr said.
“To do that, we cannot mix non-recyclable plastics with those that can be recycled.
“Mixing plastics will result in all of the recycling potentially having to go to the landfill which is the worst outcome, both environmentally and financially.”
Kerr said consumers could have an impact by shopping wisely, such as choosing recyclable clear and opaque bottles when shopping, and checking the recycling grade as well.
“Check the bottoms of your containers when you buy. If we all make these small changes, together we can make very big differences.”
The changes also affect drop-off recycling stations.
The NZ Herald has reported on a teenager who has been charged for sharing the Facebook live stream of the terror attack online. quote.
An 18-year-old Christchurch man was also accused of sharing the gunman’s livestream on the day of the attacks and faces two charges and up to 14 years’ behind bars. end quote.
Not only did they publish it, but they were also 100% aware of the seriousness of what they were making public as they included the following warning before playing the video. At the time that this article was written the video was still accessible to the public although I did not watch it.
This is the same NZ Herald that has forming a deplatforming task force working hand in glove with Canterbury university in order to troll for ” hate speech.”
According to journalist Matt Nippert they have dedicated teams trolling through years worth of comments and articles right now. No doubt they will label whatever they find as “hate speech” and “horrific” if previous hyperbole in the media is anything to go by.
If they can’t find anything good then they will just tell us that it was “horrific” and “shocking” and will not bother to provide any evidence of their claims. If they do provide evidence they will fail to provide context or to let us know how old the comments are so that they can agitiate to deplatform the website or cost the commenter their job.
A member of the public is not happy that there is one rule for the public but another rule for the Media and has made a complaint about the NZ Herald publishing the video to New Zealand’s Digital Safety Group.
Below is the response that they received. We will keep you posted if action is taken against the NZ Herald.
Complaint re New Zealand Herald
Thank you for your email, we really appreciate your time sending this information to us and your concerns.
The Department of Internal Affairs is currently working with other organisations in New Zealand and Internationally, such as law enforcement agencies and internet service providers, to remove footage related to the attack.
The Department considers that the footage related to the attack is objectionable and therefore an offence under New Zealand law to possess, share or host. We consider this is very serious and we are taking action to have the content removed.
We are aware that people may have unsuspectingly viewed the video on social media platforms thinking it is a media article, so please be vigilant of images that yourself and those around you are viewing, particularly our young people.
If you or someone you know has viewed the video and are struggling with what you have seen please see 1737 ‘Need to talk’ or free call or text 1737.
For further information on how to stay safe online, please see:
Netsafe – New Zealand’s independent, non-profit online safety organisation that provides practical tools, support and advice for managing online challenges, including cyberbullying, and helps people stay safe. https://www.netsafe.org.nz/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIsMCi-MOF4QIVBBqPCh1EsQM_EAAYASAAEgLNg_D_BwE
Office of Film and Literature Classification – the government body that classifies publications and provides information about decisions and undertakes research about classifications and their affects. https://www.classificationoffice.govt.nz/
Other useful resources – takes you to the Department’s Censorship page which has a selection of useful links to other websites related to Internet safety. https://www.dia.govt.nz/Censorship-Online-Safety
Digital Safety Group
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern oversaw recent changes which meant people didn’t need to visit their local police station to apply for permits for military style guns.
Critics of the move – designed to allow for online applications – say the changes are “crazy” because they take away important face-to-face contact between police and gun buyers.
“It’s been done for all the wrong reasons – this is exactly an example of the type of problem that’s caused this event [in Christchurch],” says firearms lawyer Nicholas Taylor.
“It’s a problem with the vetting – it’s going in totally the opposite direction as it needs to go in.”
* Police firearms staff proposed restructure could affect more than 350 jobs
* The Christchurch mosque shooter was able to get hold of large capacity magazines with ease
* Christchurch attack: Government has agreed to gun law changes, will tell public within week
The accused gunman got his New Zealand firearms licence in November, 2017 and began buying weapons soon after, including online from Gun City in Christchurch.
A spokesperson for Ardern said although applications for gun licences could now be made online, there was still a requirement for an in-person meeting as part of the vetting process.
Ardern was the chair of an executive committee which ushered through changes to arms regulations just before Christmas last year.
Ardern says firearms law will be overhauled in the wake of the mosque attacks and has not ruled out a ban on semi-automatic weapons. New laws are expected to be rolled out on Thursday.
She has described our guns laws as a “blueprint [for] what not to do”.
The changes were made by a mechanism known as an order in council, where regulations are amended without the need for an Act of Parliament.
Previously under the Arms Act, if someone wanted to become a gun dealer, get a firearms licence, import a restricted weapon, or get a permit to buy a military-style semi-automatic, they had to physically deliver an application to their nearest police station.
Under the changes, people can now apply for those things online, although police can still direct someone to deliver an application in person.
The regulations also allow for a buyer of a restricted weapon to show that weapon to police by video call – whereas in the past they had to take it into the station.
A spokesperson for Ardern characterised the changes as “allowing some paperwork to become electronic” and did not remove the requirement for a face-to-face meeting as part of vetting for a licence.
“Cabinet sought advice and was told that the amendments would not change the strength or rigour of the vetting process. It simply provides an alternative option for the filing of paperwork.”
A Government source said the Christchurch mosque shooter was able to convert guns bought on a standard licence to MSSAs [military style semi-automatics], so even if the online option was available at the time it wouldn’t have been relevant in his case.
Taylor said the changes had already come into effect but there had been no public announcement.
“Really no-one knew about it at all.
“I heard from a dealer who phoned up, he was told by local arms officers in Auckland that permits to procure restricted weapons like MSSAs [military style semi-automatics] and pistols…now aren’t being dealt with by the local arms office – they all have to go to Wellington.
“That would have been unlawful before the change [in December] because it’s specified in the Act that an application for a restricted weapon…has to be done at your local arms office.”
Taylor said applying in person allowed police to assess someone.
“Quite often I had police officers saying ‘your client came in to see me and he was aggro and…saying strange things and acting weirdly’.
“So you’re actually missing out on that very vital step.”
It’s understood the changes were part of a police move to centralise firearms vetting.
Police arms officers were told in January they would be restructured, with 76 district-based positions disestablished and 280 casual vetting staff positions cut entirely.
They would be replaced by 36 field-based positions and 47 centralised positions at a facility in Kapiti.
Firearms groups were furious, saying there had been little consultation.
It’s unclear how the events in Christchurch will impact on the changes.
Acting Superintendent Mike McIlraith said “any final decision will reflect Government intent”.
He said police had reviewed their administration of the Arms Act because it was more than 30 years old and had been “very paper-based, manual and at times inconsistent across districts”.
Firearms staff and the community were consulted, he said.
“They told us we need to make changes.”
McIlraith said the new system would allow people to access police arms services wherever they were needed, with support online.
“Police want a structure focused on both improving our service and ensuring it is aligned to our mission to be the safest country.”
National’s police spokesperson, Chris Bishop, said he understood the proposed restructuring had been dumped even before events in Christchurch, but police were denying that.
Bishop has faced criticism for posting a photo of himself on Facebook celebrating the “victory” of having the policy dropped.
He said centralised vetting was a retrograde step and would impact on public safety.
“Arms officers and vettors are a really important part of the system and we were really concerned.
“That proposal came out of nowhere – the licensed firearms community felt really blindsided by it.
“The reality is that at 1.40pm on Friday everything changed and we’re now going to have to have a good look at the whole system.”
Developers still sceptical about Kiwibuild.
Six KiwiBuild homes contracted ”off the plans” in November had already been built in September, Google Maps imagery shows.
The buying off the plans initiative is generally designed to help developers build affordable homes that would not have been built – or not built in the right price range – if not for the Government’s underwrite of the development.
But six homes now for sale as part of the KiwiBuild scheme in West Auckland can be seen clad and roofed in Google Map imagery from September of 2018, despite documentation showing the final contract was not signed until November.
The houses had also been offered briefly on the open market.
* Huapai KiwiBuild homes had already been tried for sale on open market
* First KiwiBuild homes to built in Canterbury, says Housing Minister Phil Twyford
* Phil Twyford says only 300 KiwiBuild homes are due to be finished by July
* KiwiBuild: Couples earning up to $180k will be able to buy homes
Fully 104 KiwiBuild homes from developer Mike Greer were announced in February, including the six homes already completed.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford noted at the time that the deal had been “in the works for a number of months” and the developer had “been building while the details have been hammered out, meaning the first homes are already ready to sell”.
“The deal is much wider than the six homes in Huapai and includes 104 homes in West Auckland and Christchurch. Mike Greer has been clear that the agreement enabled him to save costs, lower his profit, and have certainty to build faster. This meant both the homes were cheaper for first home buyers and more homes were built,” Twyford said.
The underwrite scheme basically guarantees the developer that if the homes do not sell through KiwiBuild or sell at a discounted price the Government will pick up the tab.
National’s housing spokeswoman Judith Collins drew attention to the already-built homes in Question Time on Thursday, asking if Finance Minister Grant Robertson was aware that the underwrite was covering homes that already been built.
When the contract was signed in November the Government had not yet admitted it would not make its goal of 1000 KiwiBuild homes built by July 1.
Collins believed that at this point Twyford was desperate to save that promise.
“The Minister was still saying in late-November that he was confident in reaching his 1000 houses mark. He was signing up anything,” Collins said.
“These are houses that are not adding to supply.”
Twyford said in the House that the KiwiBuild underwrite allowed an existing Mike Greer project to be greatly expanded and include more affordable homes.
“As Mike Greer himself explained in the media, he’d been negotiating with the KiwiBuild unit for several months while he put that development together, and, as he said, the KiwiBuild underwrite allowed him to build a larger development with more affordable homes,” Twyford said.
“It reduced his financing costs, enabled him to reduce his margin and build more affordable homes, and that’s why the KiwiBuild homes are at a lower price than the other homes in that development.”
Collins said she was worried that developers were “rubbing their hands with glee” and taking advantage of the Government’s generous terms.
Well over 10,000 homes have been contracted as part of KiwiBuild, but only 313 potential buyers have completed the pre-qualification process. Just under 50,000 have registered interest, however.
Mike Greer said the prospect of a partnership with KiwiBuild ”allowed us to push ahead with the Huapai development and build homes we otherwise may not have. We formally moved these six homes into the KiwiBuild programme as the contract was finalised.”
It is not often that Simon Bridges gets the better of Jacinda Ardern in Question Time.
It is even more rare for Bridges to be applauded by his own side. But both happened today – until Speaker Trevor Mallard intervened.
Ardern’s loss of form was Bridges’ capital gain as the National leader and the Prime Minister went head to head over a comprehensive capital gains tax (CGT) proposal.
National’s research unit had done their homework and found a quote of Ardern’s from Mike Hosking’s show last week in which she had pressed home what she sees as an empathetic advantage.
It was a variation on fish and chip shop theme, from the previous day in which slaving over a fat vat in an after- school job gave her insights into how small business owners would be feeling about having to pay 33 per cent tax when they sold up their business for retirement.
Ardern had disputed the NewstalkZB host’s claim that none of the cabinet had experience running a small business.
She herself had run a small Non-Government Organisation (NGO), she had said.
“What was that NGO,” Bridges asked in the House.
In her lengthy answer, an irritated Ardern failed to utter the answer, which was well known to everyone.
Bridges: “Is the NGO she spoke of the International Union of Socialist Youth?”
Ardern: “The member knows how to use Wikipedia – well done.”
And the next ad-lib question almost earned Bridges a standing ovation from his own team: “Has talking to international comrades helped her with her small-business policy development in New Zealand.”
She protested amid the happy uproar at Bridges’ question that she knew what it was like to hire and fire people, perhaps more than Bridges had as a Crown prosecutor.
It was Bridges’ moment but Mallard was having none of it. There are no rules for when applause is tolerated and when it is not. That is decided by the mood of the Speaker who clearly did not like National ganging up on her.
Mallard: “We’re not going to have that sort of seal-like approach in this House.”
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters sprang to Ardern’s rescue.
“Ah the businessman,” National’s Gerry Brownlee said when Peters, the former lawyer, former teacher, former labourer and former miner got to his feet.
Mallard ordered a withdrawal and apology from Brownlee.
Apologies are meant to be simple affairs but Brownlee couldn’t resist apologising for calling Peters a businessman, at which point Mallard threw Brownlee out of the chamber.
It is not often that the Shadow Leader of the House, who works closely with the Speaker, gets thrown out by the Speaker, but there no objections from the National side.
They were too full of self-satisfaction at having outdone the Prime Minister for once.
The government is approaching the halfway mark of its first term. Perhaps it is time to take a look back at the last 18 months and see what they have achieved, what they are in the process of doing and to give them a bit of a report card. This could be an interesting exercise.
Free Tertiary Fees. So the first thing a socialist government did was to engage in middle class welfare and give free first tertiary year fees to the children of millionaires and wealthier people. They also gave all superannuiants, including millionaires, a free heating allowance of $400 each per year, but they cancelled National’s planned tax cuts, which would have benefited all taxpayers… not just John Key’s ‘rich mates’.
Working groups. There are approximately 130 of them and they are all going to report back this year. Apart from the obscene waste of money, no government is going to be able to deal with this well; some of the proposals will contradict others and will produce a Gordian knot of policy issues.
Destroying the Oil and Gas Industry. Climate change may be Jacinda’s nuclear moment, but it would be worth her while remembering that the nuclear moment never actually happened. In the meantime, the government has destroyed a profitable industry and thrown away our energy security; all in an effort to look good on the world stage.
The Provincial Growth Fund. Giving an obscene amount of taxpayers money to a rogue minister desperate for an electoral seat was always a bad idea. So far, the PGF has lent money to risky schemes, such as Westland Milk and was the reason for 190,000 tree saplings being mulched. Apparently, however, it has created a massive 54 jobs. The benefit to regional New Zealand so far is questionable.
Karel Sroubek. Our most ‘open and transparent government’ told us to ‘read between the lines’ when it decided to grant residency to a drug dealing, wife beating Czech, while hard working restaurant owners were told to leave. We were never sure what sort of ‘lines’ we should be reading, but this was a debacle of epic proportions.
Banning plastic bags.
Yep. Makes complete sense.
UN Migration Compact. The government that campaigned on reducing immigration then signed up to a UN agreement that allows absolutely anyone who arrives on our shores the right to live here… but it is okay… the compact is not binding. Yep. That makes complete sense too.
Kiwibuild. The government’s flagship policy, designed to provide affordable housing for those ‘locked out’ of the housing market, ran aground very early on. After promising a modest 1,000 houses to be built in the first year, they then decided that measuring their progress was ‘not helpful’. In other words, the scheme is failing badly, with $2 billion of taxpayer’s money involved and no one wanting their houses. Another stunning success for the government.
Health deficits. The Minister of Health has managed, until now, to keep quiet the fact that every single district health board is now in the red, creating a $200 million national deficit. He kept this quiet by refusing to release data that used to be published quarterly. Nothing like ‘open and transparent’, is there, David?
Capital Gains Tax. In spite of the majority of the electorate being opposed to the idea, the government is hell-bent on forcing CGT on New Zealanders. There have been various reasons given for this, most of which have been refuted, but these days we seem to be down to ‘because it is fair’ (although no one will tell us who it is being fair to), or ‘we are the only OECD country without one’. Apparently, Belgium doesn’t have CGT, so there goes that excuse as well. “Because it is fair” seems to be all that we have.
Reducing the MMP threshold to 4%. All of the above demonstrates how very badly this government is performing, and it seems that they are actually aware of it. Fearful of an electoral disaster next year, they are now proposing to drop the MMP threshold to 4% without a referendum, and without even the usual requirement of approval of 75% of parliament. This should guarantee two of the government’s coalition partners that are currently on life support at least one more electoral term. Nothing like democracy, is there? The people are most definitely NOT getting the chance to speak on this one.
I give the government a total score of 0/10 on all of the above. They are a disgrace.
Burnt out career politicians often leave parliament for a cushy job with a local body, and Phil Goff is one of them. He is standing for re-election after his first term as Auckland mayor, and Todd Niall, writing for Stuff, examines Goff’s performance against promises made. Quote.
The promise: Rate rises will be kept low and affordable at an average of 2.5 per cent per annum or less.
This gets complicated. General rates had risen by an average of 2.6 and 2.5 per cent in the two years before, so Goff was promising what looked like a status quo.” End of quote.
Yes, rates became complicated when Goff introduced new varieties of rates outside of the “general rates” he was referring to in his promise. Bit of a sleight of hand here, Phil, that is actually a rates increase. Quote.
From mid-2017, the accommodation sector picked up a $13 million additional burden, in a Goff-driven policy to make the sector pay half of the city’s tourism marketing costs.” End of quote.
A new regional fuel tax was implemented to replace the $114 annual household interim Transport Levy which expired mid-2018.
In June 2018 there were about 548,000 dwellings in Auckland so the annual Transport Levy earned the council just under $62.5 million per annum. Quote.
Auckland’s Regional Fuel Tax has generated $13.2 million in its first month of operation – about $700,000 more than initial estimates.
The fuel tax came into effect on July 1, when petrol stations across the super-city put prices up by 11.5c per litre.” End of quote.
If the mayor’s new fuel tax carries on at the same rate the council would collect just over $158 million in a year, meaning householders are paying over double what they would have under the old Levy. This tallies with independent research. Quote.
While residential ratepayers saved $114 a year from losing the levy, economists Sapere Research estimated the average household would pay $252 a year due to the 11.5 cent-a-litre fuel tax, on average $138 per household more than the levy, each year.” End of quote.
If Auckland rate payers were still lulled by Goff’s promise that rates would not increase more than 2.5% they were in for a further shock. Quote.
More than 1286 private accommodation providers, using online agencies such as Airbnb, were hit with a new rate a year later depending on their level of business, bringing in $570,000 this year.
A year later, all ratepayers began paying two new targeted rates equivalent to an additional 4.6 per cent in general rates, covering an accelerated programme of water quality improvements, and one tackling pests and Kauri Dieback under a Natural Environment rate.
Both allowed much-needed additional work to be done and were backed in public consultation, but their financial burden was over and above Goff’s 2016 promises.” End of quote.
How did Goff fare on his other promises? Quote.
The promise: Each council department will be set an efficiency target, averaging 3-6 per cent across total council expenditure.
Figures supplied to Stuff forecast efficiency savings of $23m in both this year and next, falling to $16m in 2021. These are additional annual savings of 2 per cent twice, and then 1 per cent.
The breakdown of how the savings will be achieved include significant elements that were being worked on before Goff came to office. Separating his influence, from the already-happening savings programme is all-but impossible.
In the six years prior to Goff becoming mayor, the efficiency savings achieved were larger than those proposed in the figures from his office, in all but one year. That is not surprising given the low-hanging fruit available early in the council’s life – $81m in the first year.” End of quote.
Seems Goff inherited efficiency planning that gives him nothing to personally crow about. Quote.
* The promise: Urgent and bold action is needed to stop the worsening housing crisis and restore the affordability and availability of housing.
* Seek to eliminate chronic homelessness
Elsewhere in housing there is little that can be attributed to Goff’s specific ideas, rather than work already underway in council and its development agency Panuku.
In the past year, 13,272 new homes have been consented for building in the future, and 10,475 were officially completed. The numbers have levelled off and remain below the 14,000 estimated to be needed each year for decades, to wipe out a 47,000 home shortage and keep up with demand.
The Government’s Kiwibuild programme has the potential to be the biggest shift in Auckland, in delivering more affordable housing.
Goff swiftly convened a mayoral taskforce on housing after being elected, which has not claimed any significant innovation, other than being a valuable forum for participants to share ideas.” End of quote.
That is a fail, Phil. How are we ever going to get ahead of housing if we can’t even reach the annual target? Quote.
* The promise: Improved public transport options providing efficient alternatives are needed to stop Auckland grinding to a halt.
No further comment needed on transport due to lots of talk and no action. And given that gridlock is worsening, the mayor’s latest idea to reduce the around town speed limit from 50 kph to 30 kph will exacerbate it. Another fail.
Goff’s 2016 campaign slogan was “More for less.” Very apt, as it turns out, because ratepayers wound up paying more for existing services. They got less because promised improvements have largely not transpired.
What will Goff’s campaign slogan be for next year? It probably won’t matter, as hopefully he will at last be put out to pasture.
What ScoMo should have said to Jacinda
‘Thank you Prime Minister Ardern for those blunt comments just now in which you publicly indicated that deporting Kiwis from Australia is to your way of thinking ‘corrosive’ to the trans-Tasman relationship. I hadn’t realised this joint press conference was going to be used to make public criticisms of each country’s government’s policies. So let me reply in kind, bluntly and in public, and then perhaps I can air a few matters of New Zealand government policy that I think might also be ‘corrosive’ to our countries’ relationship.
‘On the deportation issue, people on visas who break any serious law will be deported, full stop. If they have under-age children then they will be sent back with their parents. That is our policy. We make no apology for it. Nor should we. You obviously disagree on that point, Ms Ardern, but my government thinks you are wrong. Who knows? If Mr Shorten wins our upcoming election you may get your wish granted.
‘And as you have thought it proper to indulge in the game of publicly denouncing the other country’s government policies, here are a few of New Zealand’s that I think are ‘corrosive’. You Kiwis are complete and total free-riders as far as defence is concerned. You take advantage of Australia and the US because you know that we will come to your aid even though you spend vanishingly little on defence. Worse, your country’s long-standing virtue-signalling on US naval ships – banning nuclear-armed US ships, which means all of them because it’s US military policy not to say whether they are nuclear or not – led to New Zealand being thrown out of the security obligations under the Anzus treaty. You first did this during the Cold War in the mid-1980s, undermining the Americans and with a seeming belief that unilateral disarmament is anything other than stupid. I disagree with that Kiwi move. In fact it was precisely that clear American intent to defend the democratic world, by spending heavily on defence, that led to the fall of the Soviet Union. In my government’s view that was a wholly good thing for the world. I realise that you, as a one-time socialist activist, might have a warmer view of Soviet communism. But you’re wrong. And when you first became Prime Minister back at the end of 2017 and called capitalism a ‘blatant failure’, let me just say that I think you were an idiot. Comments like that are very – how did you put it? – ah yes, they’re ‘corrosive’ to the relations between New Zealand and Australia because in Australia we recognise that capitalism has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty in the last few decades alone. Just look at China and India. Socialism, by contrast, has taken the once-wealthy Venezuela and turned it into an impoverished basket case. Frankly, on matters economic you are clueless, Ms Ardern.
‘I might also take this opportunity, given that you have decided that these diplomatic meetings are in fact an opportunity for you to show off for your home audience back in New Zealand, to make it clear that your public intervention into how we police our borders – I refer to your government’s offer to take a few hundred of those claiming to be refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centres – is making it harder for us to keep our borders secure. If you want to bumper-sticker moralise, do it about something else. Incentives matter and you are weakening the ones that we have put in place to stop the boats. This has resulted in the boats stopping completely, along with the hundreds and hundreds who died coming on those boats.
‘Perhaps a blunter way to make this point is to say that you and your government across the Tasman are not morally superior to me and mine. Indeed, you are classic free-riders whose geography has allowed you to avoid hard decisions. Fine. Lucky you. But have the good graces to shut up about it, at least in public, because Australia is differently situated. If we want your advice we’ll ask for it.
‘Which brings me to how it is that you are even in the position of being New Zealand’s Prime Minister and hence able to stand up here today and sanctimoniously posture and virtue-signal. Of course normally I wouldn’t comment on another country’s domestic affairs, certainly not a democratic one with which we have shared a long and friendly history. But as you have changed the rules of the game, I will play by the new ones. Because let’s be honest: in any sane voting system you wouldn’t be prime minister would you? Your main opponents the National party at the last election in 2017 garnered 44.5 per cent of the vote and your Labour party won 37 per cent. Even with the Green party votes thrown in you did worse. You’re only PM because an embittered former National party politician who set up the New Zealand First party – my fellow Australians can think in terms of Clive Palmer at this point – well, he opted to put you and the Left in power despite it being clear most of his party’s voters were much more conservatively inclined. I suppose we’ll see how that pans out for New Zealand First, or whatever it’s called, at the next election. But basically it required one of the world’s most virulently proportional voting systems to make you PM, a voting system the Americans imposed on Germany after World War II and one in which about half of MPs get into the New Zealand parliament simply because their own party has put them high up on some list drawn up by party insiders. You can even lose at the constituency level and still get a seat because you are good buddies with the insider class of your own party. Frankly, I think that’s ‘corrosive’ of democracy. But of course that’s something for Kiwis to decide and not for me to raise – well, that was what I took the conventions to be before you opted to use this joint press conference to air your views on what you think is and isn’t ‘corrosive’. Now you’ve heard what I think, maybe we can turn to questions from the press?’
OPINION: What’s laden, but never full. Pure, but never clear. Given, but never received?
Why, the Government’s answers to most questions of general accountability, of course.
Expanded, it may read: What’s laden with hyperbole but never full of any substance, pure of intention but never clear with solutions, and given but never in a way where any real information is received.
It leaves the public trying to decipher the head-scratching riddles that have been coming from the mouths of ministers, wondering what any of it actually means.
* ‘Expand and develop’ Whānau Ora – panel delivers glowing review for programme
* District Health Boards careening to a full house of red as deficit tops $200m
* Government ignored Treasury advice over $9.9m Westland Milk loan
This is the so-called “year of delivery”. And with that, surely, comes the expectation that the Government has developed a position or plan to deliver on its promises.
But a flurry of announcements, some made when they shouldn’t have been and some buried when they should probably have been declaimed in bold to the sound of ringing sirens, has done little to deliver the sense that there’s a plan.
There’s been a string of issues that have flown mostly under the radar in the past couple of weeks – relatively minor in isolation, but together they paint a picture of artful dodging.
Here are some of the issues where the Government communications plan may threaten to create more questions than it answers.
The Provincial Growth Fund: And this isn’t just about the flowery speech patterns of self-styled regional saviour Shane Jones (though it’s always a little bit about that).
It emerged on Thursday that the Treasury advised Jones against giving a $10 million loan to private firm Westland Milk, on the basis the company couldn’t get a bank loan and thus the Government ran the risk of looking like a “lender of last resort”.
The debt-laden West Coast company is hoping to build a new plant with the money, to make higher-value products.
It was announced to both huge fanfare and raised eyebrows, in November last year. So much fanfare that Jones had to share the regionally hallowed ground he walks on with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
There were enough unanswered questions then – namely why the loan had passed the Government’s threshold for a good spend.
They were only added to, this week, when Jones was asked to justify the Government’s reasons for pressing ahead with a loan that the Treasury had effectively branded a shonky deal. (Unsurprisingly, there was no Government fanfare to accompany this announcement.)
A spokesman for Jones said: “The PGF, when granting a loan, is able to consider wider benefits than a commercial bank would, such as wider regional development and employment outcome.”
The number of jobs bandied about at the time was 10 and, although there’s an escape clause if the company’s ownership structure was to change, it emerged a little more than a month later that Westland Milk had entered discussions to be sold in part, or wholly, to a Canadian company.
What of due diligence, when there are regions to save and the chance to look good while doing it.
The Wellbeing Budget: The Government has hyped its “living standards framework” for which the full capability is expected to be revealed in the May Budget.
We know from Ardern touting it on the international stage that every cent will somehow be run through a filter to show how it contributes to “intergenerational wellbeing”.
What we don’t know is how that applies to things like intelligence and security spending, or the important but completely unvirtuous funding of an unaccountable slush fund that doles money out to struggling private businesses.
Even if the Government manages to tell an effective story to explain how it works, it’ll have a job on its hands explaining how it all adds up to help any single struggling family.
Don’t forget, it took at least two years for most people to realise the last Government’s social investment approach was a tangible thing.
The Government also faces a rather substantial vulnerability over an accompanying tool, which applies monetary values to pretty much anything, to help it weigh up funding decisions.
The fact that befriending a neighbour appears to hold more value than curing diabetes appears ripe for mischievous exploitation from the Opposition.
The argument that it’s merely an “accounting function” didn’t count for much when Labour was feigning outrage over the last government’s use of the term “liability” to describe the total welfare bill on the state.
DHBs in the red: About the time the Tax Working Group was dropping its CGT-shaped bomb on the completely suspecting country was the time Health Minister David Clark chose to reveal that every single district health board had finally made it into the red – a $200m national deficit.
This, after months of ministry blocking and refusal to release the numbers that used to be made public on a quarterly basis.
With his release was the assurance that the proactive minister had put them all “on notice” and an attached letter he’d sent, to DHB chief executives, expecting them to prioritise saving a non-specified amount, in non-specified areas.
Oh, and he was most displeased that services were also slipping for specialist waiting times, elective surgical waiting times, and those for radiology or cancer services. Most displeased indeed.
This is your periodic reminder that he abolished the reporting of those targets.
What of Whanau Ora: It gained little fanfare, despite the fact it’s an apparent success story. And at first blush, that’s perhaps the biggest cause for confusion – why was this not being sung from the rooftops?
Journalists expecting the report had expected a press conference and possibly even the release of embargoed copies – a common practice that allows detailed stories to be done justice in their first iteration. But no such forward planning was allowed.
Puzzling, until it’s considered that Whanau Ora doing well goes against NZ First’s principles of “one law for all”, and even against some elements of the Labour Party’s own views of universality.
So when the Government ordered a review into the flagship Māori development funding model under the last government, everyone held their breath that it was the beginning of the end.
It may well still be. Except that the review which came back called for nothing really, except more resourcing of a policy programme it said was making a real difference to individual families.
It’s yet to make a decision on how it approaches the review’s recommendations, so we’ll just add it to the pile of reviews so far returned on which the country is waiting for answers. That also includes mental health, welfare and tax.
Let’s see the coalition spin these.
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