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The Standard

Enough to finish us off

Written By: - Date published: 10:20 am, October 30th, 2011 - 58 comments
Categories: accountability, Economy, Environment, greens - Tags: , ,

Five million kilos of radioactive yellow cake uranium are being shipped through New Zealand ports every year. ERMA was unaware this practice has been going on for the last 15 years and only learned of it in 2009, but not to worry, according to John Key’s spokesperson the yellow cake is “Australian dirt, which is essentially harmless”.

So can the Government assure the New Zealand public that none of this “harmless [radioactive uranium concentrate] dirt” is aboard the Rena? Gareth Hughs wants an immediate independent inquiry. If Nuclear Free New Zealand ports are playing host to five million kilos of yellow cake uranium concentrate each year, I want to know more about it. I also want to know what’s on the Rena’s cargo register.

You think oil spills are a problem for our tourism and 100% Pure food exports image? Try a few tonnes of yellow cake washing up on Mt Maunganui and Papamoa – especially when the Tauranga Habourmaster confirms that the Port of Tauranga has no equipment to even detect, let alone contain, radioactive material.

If we get another Rena-like disaster with a yellow cake carrier and it leads to widespread dispersal of the cargo, then kiss good bye to our agricultural exports sector – and with it, pretty much our entire economy as we know it.

58 comments on “Enough to finish us off”

  1. jimmy 1

    There won’t be any radioactive material on the Rena or they would have made a song and dance about it when the manifest was examined. Instead we learnt of the “hazardous” goods; ferrosilicate, which is effectively dirt.

    That said; this incident highlights the risk of shipping any hazardous material via New Zealand.

    On the filpside, what’s good for the economy is good for all New Zealand (tui)

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      There won’t be any radioactive material on the Rena or they would have made a song and dance about it when the manifest was examined.

      Given that the practice of shipping yellowcake had gone on secretly for years without authorities admitting it, I wouldn’t assume its as clean cut as all this.

      especially when the Tauranga Habourmaster confirms that the Port of Tauranga has no equipment to even detect, let alone contain, radioactive material.

      Two things. This means all kinds of radioactive shit can get shipped through Tauranga and no one would know. Secondly were’nt major ports supposed to have gear installed in the name of anti-terrorism (or something) after 9/11?

      On another note 5000 tonnes of yellow cake =! 5000 tonnes of uranium.

    • thejackal 1.2

      Here is the preliminary list of hazardous substances and their quantities the Rena is known to be carrying… buried in the Maritime New Zealand website.

      MNZ are now saying that it is a container of Alkysulphonic Acid UN2856 that has gone overboard. It is important to note that the United Nations recommended maximum transportation quantity is 5 litres, while the Rena was carrying 23,240 kgs.

      Now you tell me if these substances with high aqautic ecotoxicity are just dirt Jimmy?

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    You can tell there’s no yellowcake on Rena because she hasn’t visited either of the Aussie ports that export the stuff recently. Unless the Aussies are illegally exporting un-reported yellowcake that is. Good luck down that rabbit hole.

  3. lprent 3

    It is yellowcake, which will usually have minute amounts of U235 which is radioactive over the short term, and mostly U238 which has lower radioactivity than most iron ores – most common isotopes of which have shorter halflifes. You have to concentrate the U235 in uranium before it is of any radioactive danger.

    Depending on the source and processing, I’d expect that yellowcake from Aussie will probably be less radioactive than a typical iron balustrade. It will certainly be less of a radioactive risk than building on top of granite.

    Uranium isn’t even that good a heavy metal poison – its outer electron shell is pretty full. It simply isn’t promiscuous like plutonium or mercury. The oxides in yellowcake make it nearly inert and nonsoluble.

    Hughes is acting like an idiot. But I have come to not expect too much actual science knowledge from the Green party MP’s. Some are more into chicken little labelling without thinking enough.

    Mind you, John Key’s spokesperson is also either ignorant or a liar. Yellowcake is the resulting product of some highly intensive industrial processing. It could never be described as dirt. Mind you he could just be channelling his boss, who also tends to be a bit vague about just about everything….

    The only thing of interest is the level of reporting to ERMA. That is something I haven’t thought about and I will have to dig into a bit.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      “Hughes is acting like an idiot. But I have come to not expect too much actual science knowledge from the Green party MP’s. Some are more into chicken little labelling without thinking enough.”

      Yes, like their own goal about Happy Feet. Asking the National ministers about the possibility that Happy Feet had been caught in a fishing net from a trawler, and how there was a boat not far away from Happy Feet’s last known position. The National minister responded that that closest boat was the DOC one that had let Happy Feet go, and the most likely explanation was that Happy Feet had become a Happy Meal.

    • Alwyn 3.2

      If I can remember my decades ago chemistry all the naturally occurring isotopes of iron, except Fe54 are stable and not radioactive at all. FE54 has a half life of about 3.1*10e22, which is about 10 billion billion times the age of the earth.

      Uranium 235 has a half life of about 800 million years which is a bit more than being radioactive in the short term.

      On the other hand I agree with the general gist of this comment. The Greens are scientific idiots.

      ps I like your comment on Uranium not being “promiscuous”, unlike mercury. I can’t get out of my head the image of yellowcake shrinking back from any passing crewman and protesting that “I’m not one of those girls” whilst a vial of mercury whistles and asks “looking for a good time sailor”. Yes I know I have a weird imagination.

      • Ari 3.2.1

        It certainly would be nice if the Greens at least began fact-checking a bit more extensively before they launched off on this stuff. On some parts of science they can be really thorough, but when it comes to nuclear issues, genetic modification, or alternative medicine, there’s a tendancy to shoot from the hip which is embarrassing and not parliamentary behaviour at all. (Not that National haven’t tried their hardest to lower the standards in that regard)

    • Draco T Bastard 3.3

      You have to concentrate the U235 in uranium before it is of any radioactive danger.

      There is some doubt about that.

      Rokke, a health physicist who became the Pentagon’s most senior DU expert during the first Gulf War, became convinced it had contaminated the battlefield and could be a factor in Gulf War Syndrome, the mysterious mix of illnesses that have afflicted returning soldiers. Rokke acknowledges DU’s brilliance as a weapon – because it is an extremely dense metal that sharpens and burns as it hits its target, it is used on the ends of tank shells and missiles to penetrate steel and concrete much more easily than conventional weapons. But he also believes that he and the research team became contaminated. “Everybody is sick,” he says. “We’ve all got rashes, respiratory and kidney problems. It’s there; there are no two ways about it.”

      That said, you’re probably right about yellowcake which isn’t solid uranium but is a mixture of chemical compounds which contain uranium.

    • Rich 3.4

      Maybe it’s relatively harmless in it’s natural state – though it’s many times more concentrated than any “dirt” found in nature.

      But put it in a reactor, and you’ve got plutonium and fission products. When there’s an accident (like Fukushima) these escape. The other risk is proliferation – any state which has an evolved nuclear industry is a few years away from making a bomb, should it choose to do so.

      Uranium’s a commodity – the more gets mined, the cheaper it becomes and the more attractive it is to countries to use nuclear power. By participating, even in a small way, in the supply chain, we’re contributing to nuclear accidents and bombs.

    • QoT 3.5

      lprent, I take your word on the science, but here’s the thing: do you think our trade partners and tourism industry are going to sit down and say “righto, let’s establish the actual scientific situation here” or are they going to go “MOTHERFUCKING URANIUM IN NZ WATERS, BURN ALL YOUR MERINO!”?

      • KJT 3.5.1

        Part of the problem here is, the Greens are the party of the environment. The media expect unscientific ideological brain farts from other parties and largely give them a free pass.

        Greens do not have that Luxury.

        Agreed that a “Nuclear free” country participating in the Nuclear industry., like NZ investments in Nuclear power, is not good PR.

        P.S. M F–king is a derogatory gendered insult. Black marks. :-)

      • the sprout 3.5.2

        are going to sit down and say “righto, let’s establish the actual scientific situation here” or are they going to go “MOTHERFUCKING URANIUM IN NZ WATERS, BURN ALL YOUR MERINO!”?

        exactly

        • lprent 3.5.2.1

          Honest mistakes I can live with. Deliberately and knowingly screwing with the science for purely political purposes just annoys me

          Which leads to the question of responsibility. I like to assign it where I can see it. Somehow I can just see a post with the title of “[insert MP]: ldiot or liar?”, “New Zealand Greens lie about yellowcake”, or “Green lies” in my future – frequently. I am sure that I can get that repeated around science and engineering blogs for an added google effect. Hell if I make the words simple enough, the right may be able to understand it and repeat it.

          Where do people look up information from afar? Begins with a G…

          If the greens want an issue then they should find one of the real ones. Something like this is just easily disprovable bullshit and will simply irritate every tech orientated around. It simply makes it harder to convince hard nosed engineers that there are actual environmental problems that need looking at.

          Ultimately the greens need techs working for fixes earlier rather than after disasters strt striking. Damaging the greens credibility is not useful.

          • *_* 3.5.2.1.1

            Tetchy aren’t we?

            Since the transportation also took place during a Labour administration then you’d have no problems in defending it while belittling the Greens.

            • lprent 3.5.2.1.1.1

              Nope. I think that the science that Hughes pushed not only crap – I suspect that he knew it was crap.

              I notice that you are not supporting his science – I wonder why? Gutless wonder or just too pig-ignorant to understand the issue?

              • incorrect. it was not known about by the Labour Govt,
                ERMA became aware of the practice in 2009 – under National

                • lprent

                  I guess that was a reply for the punctuation puppet from context

                  What concerns me with ERMA is that they should be tracking the transport of any heavy metal over water as a matter of course. Many can have some pretty severe consequences if they get dumped in a corrosive seawater environment. They tend to be pretty evil in enclosed waters because the sediments get a lot of rework by local flora and therefore fauna.

      • lprent 3.5.3

        Yeah, but also they ignore dangerous radioactive waste transfers from Japan to the UK that have actual dangers. What makes you think that they will notice something that is not dangerous. Ummm because our local morons of science tell them right?

        Quite frankly I prefer to deal with the local idiots. Starting with this Green MP who needs a lower high school education in basic science. I seem to remember he is on my Facebook.

        • QoT 3.5.3.1

          I assume they’ll ignore anything right up to the point there’s a pageview-generating story in it.

        • KDV 3.5.3.2

          If a ton of yellow cake washed up on our beaches then, regardless of its actual toxicity, our tourism industry would be decimated for decades. We might still be able to sell food products overseas, but only at knock down prices, never again at premium prices.

          If authorities told you the food was safe, but you had the choice of an alternative, would you choose to eat food from somewhere washed with yellow cake? No, me neither.

          • NickS 3.5.3.2.1

            You’ve got no idea how sparing soluble yellowcake is do you?

            • KDV 3.5.3.2.1.1

              I assume you mean ‘sparingly soluble’? You seem to have a literalist disposition but perhaps I should have used the more literary ‘awash’ rather than ‘washed’.
              Whether the shit disolves or is dispersed as a solid is immaterial. Of course it doesn’t even have to disperse. As long as it’s lost in the sea close to our coast it will have an enormously serious economic impact via denigration of our export image. Actual toxicity is immaterial.
              Get it now?

              • NickS

                What I get is that you have absolutely no idea about the relative non-toxicity (inhalation problematic for the same reasons inhaling silica is problematic, otherwise only UO2 in the 2+ state is a problem, but it’s not generally found in yellowcake) of uranium oxides in that it’s only highly toxic once it’s reduced to uranium salts which the uranium cation(s) in which ever oxidisation state (aka is it +1, +2, +3 etc, etc) it’s in can then co-ordinate with organic molecules and gum things up. And because uranium oxides are very sparingly soluble, environmental impacts would only be seen when dumping more a couple of tonnes of the stuff, and even then you have to take into account ocean currents diluting any spills, along with it being locked up in marine mud or buried via other means.

                Uranyl is another thing entirely and prone to bio-accumulating due to it’s affinity for coordinating with phosphates (see DNA and RNA for what that’s “fun”). However, environmental impact as noted before will depend on environmental factors and amount dumped.

                On the radioactivity front, U238 is less radioactive than granite, and the proportion of U235 in yellowcake is far too low to make it a significant radiation risk until enrichment processing.

                But hey, why fact check when you can just be ignorant instead?

                As for tourism impacts, well, I can’t be fucked caring about the opinions of stupid idiots who can’t be bothered checking out stuff properly.

                • KDV

                  It’s a shame your reading comprehension skills aren’t as developed as your trumpet blowing.
                  So one more time, but with fewer words for you to read: Actual toxicity is immaterial.
                  Get it now?

                  • NickS

                    As for tourism impacts, well, I can’t be fucked caring about the opinions of stupid idiots who can’t be bothered checking out stuff properly.

                    What part of “I can’t be fucked…” do you not understand? If people are too stupid too understand risks properly based off the science than I really couldn’t care what they think, especially as, unlike with the Rena disaster, you’d still be able to eat sea food post the spill of yellowcake (provided uranyl levels are at WHO guidelines off course).

                    As for trading partners, they’ll be basing risks off toxicity data, not public opinion, making your quip about toxicity being immaterial rather braindead.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      As for trading partners, they’ll be basing risks off toxicity data, not public opinion, making your quip about toxicity being immaterial rather braindead.

                      Nah, once consumers in those countries hear of a spill of radioactive material they’ll start turning away from NZ produce immediately. And they won’t be looking at toxicity data.

                      Effect will probably last for months.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 3.5.4

        “lprent, I take your word on the science”

        No offense to lprent, but the only way to be sure of scientific pronouncements is to check the source.

        • lprent 3.5.4.1

          As you should. There is a Wikipedia link in my earlier comment that on links to other references. If you hunt around the net you will find unreferenced sources that talk about it’s radioactivity – by few with actual levels or comparisons too other substances. Ones that do tend to compare it to granite as a good reference level.

          Like heavy metals, I would get concerned about the release of large quantities into the environment. However it is transported as a stable oxide and sulphate rather than as a metal. But it is innocuous compared to even a tiny shipment of batteries with its cohort of lead, cadmium, and every other nasty heavy metal in an metallic form. I would be interested to see if ERMA tracks those.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 3.5.4.1.1

            If you really want to give yourself nightmares, Maritime rules part 24A is a good place to start.

          • Bob 3.5.4.1.2

            You mean like the toxic tailings dump just outside of Waihi ? Which is full of heavy metals associated with gold mining from hard rock sources .
            Once NGW leave the area , the rate payers of the waikato get to look after these tailings dams in perpetuity , there is a bond but as the Tui mine tailings clean up showed, it costs a lot of money to try and remediate problems .

  4. What is even more terrifying is that Tauranga is not testing anything for radioactive material coming from Japan (as it does not have the equipment to do so) which has still got four full meltdowns going on and we are importing Cars and food from that country!

  5. NickS 5

    @Llyn (reply fail)

    Uranium isn’t even that good a heavy metal poison – its outer electron shell is pretty full. It simply isn’t promiscuous like plutonium or mercury. The oxides in yellowcake make it nearly inert and nonsoluble.

    Toxicity in the case of yellow cake is more of a function of how damn much has been spilled, as that will determine how much potentially of a small fraction will form far more toxic soluble uranium salts*. But then you’ve also got to take into account where it’s been spilled, water currents, depth, temperature to get a fuller picture of any potential risks.

    Hughes is acting like an idiot. But I have come to not expect too much actual science knowledge from the Green party MP’s. Some are more into chicken little labelling without thinking enough.

    This +1

    And yeah, the Greens really need someone with a fucking background in modern molecular biology and genetics on board, as they’re still not so smart on genetic modification risk assessment + the uses of GMO’s.

    The only thing of interest is the level of reporting to ERMA. That is something I haven’t thought about and I will have to dig into a bit.

    It is slightly weird, especially considering NZ’s known anti-nuclear stance, which would make shipping it through rather stupid from a PR perspective.

    From the post:

    “Australian dirt, which is essentially harmless”

    That’s not dirt, as if you tried growing plants in it, they’d die from lack of nutrients and It’s fucking processed uranium ore you chemically illiterate PR hack.

    ______________________
    *Statistical thermodynamics + probability fun, aka shit will happen even if it has a small probability of happening…

    • lprent 5.1

      The ERMA side I need to look at more closely. For instance do they track shipments of batteries. Imagine the effect of a container of nicad batteries on a seafloor harbor ecosystem. If they missed a type of processed heavy metal shipment, then what others have they missed. That is a question worth asking.

  6. Rich 6

    the Greens really need someone with a fucking background in modern molecular biology and genetics on board

    Could you detail who in other parties has such a background? Paula Bennett?

  7. locus 7

    Public belief in scare stories is sometimes helpful sometimes disastrous. You can’t blame anyone for not buying a 2nd hand car just imported from Japan if they think it might be radioactive. But the damage done to people’s health and livelihoods from erroneous beliefs can be irrepairable, e.g. local fishing industry decimated not by an oil spill but by belief that their catches are contaminated; children possibly getting damaged by or dying from measles as not vaccinated following the MMR autism con. Before people with a public profile go out with scare stories you’d think that they would consult with experts – or in some cases just talk to someone with a School C in the subject..

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Thing is, consulting with the experts is often worse than useless, at the time. Think Sellafield, think dioxin in New Plymouth, think thalidomide.

      No problem! Its safe! Then 20 years later you find out.

      • locus 7.1.1

        True, and so even more important that politicians and others with public profile do the best they can to research a subject and tackle the root causes of risk, and avoid pronouncements on presumed consequences.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.2

        I know what you mean, but I think you’ll find it isn’t so much the experts saying “it’s safe”. They’ll be saying “we have 95% confidence…” It’s the politicians and lawyers and marketing people who repackage science into press-releases.
        Unfortunately it appears that unless this repackaging occurs, people (for the most part) will not engage with scientific findings at all.
        This makes it doubly important (as NickS says above) that parties employ scientifically literate people to help them get it right.
        As for the rest of us, the baloney detection kit is a good place to start.

        • Rich 7.1.2.1

          Some scientists are the ones pushing that ‘evidence based policy’ means that you ask the appropriately learned people and a policy pops out fully formed that will be Correct.

          But all science will usually give us is a range of facts – that gets conditioned by a bunch of subjective settings:
          – how important do we consider the preservation of ecosystems?
          – how important is low cost transport for imports and exports?
          – how much do we want to maintain friendship with ‘traditional allies’ like the UK and US?
          – how much are we morally complicit in events which our government’s actions influence?

          These are just some of the questions that drive a decision here. If you’re on one side of the scale (stuff the ecosystem, cheap freight, suck up to the us, what’s a moral) then you’ll possibly take a hazard level at the high end, or ignore any hazard. If you’re the other way, the immediate risk might be a bit irrelevant.

          • NickS 7.1.2.1.1

            the ecosystem one you can cost on the basis of ecosystem services and estimated replacement costs, which is pretty much well formed at present (bar a few stupid economists who can’t grok ecosystem services), so it’s not really subjective unless you’re an idiot blinded by ideology or greed.

            • Rich 7.1.2.1.1.1

              Take an incident or practice that leads to the destruction of a minor non-food species with no economic impact. Slime, for instance, or dolphins.

              Is it a problem? Depends on how much you value that ecosystem, which is a value judgment.

              • NickS

                /facepalm

                Why thank you for showing your lack of knowledge about food webs, as dolphins are important predators and thus have significant impacts on community assemblages, while slime oft provides important microhabitats and food for various micro and macro-fauna, those presence of absence can have knock on effects throughout the ecosystem.

                Basically, go take 2nd and 3rd year uni ecology courses, then get back to me.

                • Rich

                  Not until you’ve taken 3rd year maths and can explain Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem using only high-school concepts.

                  • NickS

                    What the fuck?

                    Wiles’ proof is utterly inconsequential to this discussion, which centres on your ignorance of ecology, of which the maths involve in ecology barely rises to 3rd year maths levels and primarily involves statistical modelling. Heck for the most part first year calculus is all that’s needed unless you branch out into network topology stuff to do with foodwebs.

                    The Goalposts, you have failed to move them. Please try again.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.2.1.2

            “..evidence-based policy…science will usually give us is a range of facts ”

            So what? Policy must take account of those facts, as distinct from anecdotes or advocacy.

            So, for example, the assertion that you can attribute a “value” to a member of an ecosystem and make sound judgements on policy based on that value is an example of advocacy, whereas NickS points you to the evidence that annihilates your argument.

            What do we want?

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    Another month and another good patronage result from Auckland Transport – particularly for rail. Patronage in April is naturally down on the madness that is March due to the combination of a 30 day month, ANZAC day, Easter and School Holidays/Uni holidays.… ...
    21 hours ago
  • Children and steady-as-you-go – but how steady?
    There are three political dimensions to the budget’s star “children in hardship” item. One is John Key’s ownership. That fits his protestations of concern about disadvantaged children — though action has been slow coming. He made his pile in… ...
    Colin JamesBy Colin James
    23 hours ago
  • Thoughts on budget 2015
    There’s a Herald summary here. I’ve been saying for a while that ‘neoliberalism’ – ie a belief in the efficacy of free markets, the distortionary evil of taxes and benefits and the minimalisation of the state – is dead. There… ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    23 hours ago
  • What if your MP was decided on the flip of a coin?
    The provincial election in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island finally came to an end a couple of days ago when its last MLA was declared elected following a judicial recount.(What - you didn't know that Prince Edward Island… ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 day ago
  • Gordon Campbell on Budget 2015
    From the outset, the slogan for yesterday’s Budget – “The Plan Is Working” – begged to be mocked. There’s actually a plan for the national economy? Who knew? And its been working for whom, exactly? Not for families in poverty,… ...
    1 day ago
  • Building better connections between Asia and the Pacific
    Speech – New Zealand Government I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak at this International Conference on the Future of Asia.22 May 2015 Building better connections between Asia and the Pacific (speech delivered to 2015 Nikkei Forum, Tokyo,… ...
    Its our futureBy ScoopBlogPush
    1 day ago
  • Budget 2015: Media releases and tertiary education coverage
    We will update this page over the next few days with media releases and news stories on Budget 2015 and its effect on tertiary education and on employment. Radio NZ: Govt tightens education purse strings The Government is expecting fewer… ...
    1 day ago
  • Helping Our Heritage Come Alive – Mt Eden Rd
    This is an image from Mark Bishop. Here are the previous posts: Queen and Wellesley, Newton Rd, Kingsland These images were developed by merging together various historic black and white photographs (all from the “Sir George Grey Special Collection” –… ...
    1 day ago
  • Budget 2015 shows no plans for public sector wages
    The Public Service Association (PSA) says this budget does not address the wage rises needed across the public sector. ...
    1 day ago
  • Don’t expect to see chemical safety data sheets in restaurants
    I keep coming across this very naive form of chemophobic scare-mongering – the use of safety data sheets to frighten consumers about trace chemicals in their environment, food and drink. Here is an example anti-fluoridation propagandists continually use – safety data… ...
    1 day ago
  • World News Brief, Thursday May 21
    PunditBy Daily Digest
    1 day ago
  • Hard News: Mediaworks: The only horizon they see
    When it emerged last month that Campbell Live was facing the axe, I ventured that Mediaworks had become far more Julie Christie's company than it was John Campbell's. And I think that's the reality behind the news that Campbell Live… ...
    1 day ago
  • Andrew’s little Poem
    by Don Franks Twas the night before Budget When just for a change Andrew Little’s thought’s did more widely range Labour’s leader cast round in his mind for an angle On which a publicity moment might dangle Some little device… ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 day ago
  • One good thing
    Today's budget is a dismal affair, as the government shuffles money around and announces new spending while conveniently forgetting to mention that its a sub-inflation rise and that health and education are going backwards - as they have every year… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Budget tougher for students – NZUSA and TEU media release
    Lowering the annual fee increases for students from 4 percent to 3 percent means universities, polytechnics and wānanga will have less money, say national student and staff unions NZUSA and TEU. Slightly slower fee rises are no good if the… ...
    2 days ago
  • Blah Budget: Lala-land forecasts on housing investment
    Some of the forecasts in the Budget beggar belief, and when they almost inevitably turn out wrong they spell disaster for New Zealand families. Here’s the clearest example. In the last year, investment in residential property ballooned by 16%. In… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    2 days ago
  • Blah Budget: Cynical bribery on the horizon
    Bill English has said time and again that new spending initiatives of around $1 billion each year are the responsible thing to do, and are the new normal. And, in the next two years, he is as good as… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    2 days ago
  • Blah Budget: Share of the economy going to workers continues to fall
    The BEFU documents today have unwelcome news for workers. Over the next four years, the share of the economy that ends up in the hands of workers through their wages will fall by around 1.3%. That 1.3% of GDP,… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    2 days ago
  • Bill English’s Budget illustrates complexity in welfare system
    Budget 2015 has been touted as a package for the poor. And it certainly delivers them more money. However, it gives with one hand and takes away with the other, revealing the confusing and perverse nature of our welfare system.… ...
    Gareth’s WorldBy Geoff Simmons
    2 days ago
  • Blah Budget: Pathetic half-measure on housing
    Yesterday, Paddy Gower thought he had a big scoop. He had leaked Budget docs alluding to a big government-lead house-building programme in Auckland. Today, the pathetic truth is revealed. The Budget puts only $52.2m – as a one off –… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    2 days ago
  • Blah Budget: Good idea on child poverty. Pity about the tinkering package.
    I can only speak personally, but I am genuinely pleased that the government is following through on its promise to focus on child poverty. New Zealand’s rates of child poverty are appalling, and anything that helps to bring them down… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    2 days ago
  • Blah Budget: Why there won’t be a surplus next year, either.
    Having failed to reach surplus in this, his promised year, Bill English looks set to fail next year, too. Having been over-optimistic this year to the tune of almost $1.2b – comparing BEFU 2014 to BEFU 2015 - Treasury has… ...
    PolityBy Rob Salmond
    2 days ago

  • Another new tax, another broken promise
    National has unveiled yet another new tax in this budget – a rural broadband levy that will almost certainly result in an immediate price hike for internet and telephone connections across New Zealand, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said “The… ...
    12 hours ago
  • Anniversary of Sri Lankan Tamil Massacre
    This is not going to be a happy story but if the Green Party of Aotearoa doesn’t want to know who else will? May 18th marks the anniversary of what is known as the ‘Mullivaikal massacre’ of Tamils in 2009 at… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    12 hours ago
  • Labour MPs join youth to take part in 40 hour famine
    A team of Labour MPs took part in the 2015 World Vision 40 hour famine and we were told by World Vision and the young people, that it was the first time MPs had joined them and how appreciative they… ...
    12 hours ago
  • Rodeo: ‘Family entertainment’ or animal abuse?
    Recently  TVNZ ran a story with confronting footage showing rodeo animals being punched, repeatedly shocked with electronic prods and having their tails violently twisted over their backs. It was clear that significant force was being used behind the scenes to make… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    12 hours ago
  • Budget puts the squeeze on police
    The Government has cut funding to the New Zealand police force in the latest Budget, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The reduction is a whopping $15.3 million that could put front line officers at risk. ...
    13 hours ago
  • Crucial social services take another hit
    The Government looks set to slash half a million dollars of funding for critical social services, including Women’s Refuge and Barnados, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni “Taking $500,000 from organisations aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable families… ...
    13 hours ago
  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    15 hours ago
  • Budget silent on small business
    The Government has completely ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy – small and medium-sized enterprises – in Budget 2015, Labour’s Small Business spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. "A stunning 41 per cent of jobs were created by… ...
    15 hours ago
  • Thank you John, it’s been bloody marvellous
    The departure of John Campbell is a blow to current affairs investigative journalism, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Campbell Live stood out in its field. Its axing comes as local broadcasting in New Zealand remains in a state of… ...
    16 hours ago
  • KiwiSaver cut shows no long-term plan
    National’s cutting of the KiwiSaver kickstart is incredibly short-term thinking, typical of a Budget that is woefully short on ideas to generate wealth and opportunity, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “New Zealand’s savings rate is far too low. KiwiSaver… ...
    18 hours ago
  • National hits the panic button for its 7th Budget
    National has hit the panic button for its 7th Budget in a desperate attempt to look like they’re taking action to reduce our shameful child poverty rates, but they are giving with one hand and taking with the other, Opposition… ...
    1 day ago
  • Panic and back-flips can’t hide twin deficits
    National’s token measures to fight fires they have left burning for seven long years can’t hide a Budget that is long on broken promises, short on vision and fails to reach surplus, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “After being… ...
    2 days ago
  • Auckland land measure seven years too late
    National are so desperate to look like they are doing something about the Auckland housing crisis they have dusted off Labour’s 2008 inventory of government land available for housing and re-announced it, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Despite National… ...
    2 days ago
  • Access to gender reassignment surgery essential
    I was frankly disgusted to hear the Minister for Health say that funding gender reassignment surgeries is a “nutty idea”. A recent study found that in New Zealand 1% of young people identified themselves as transgender, and 3% were unsure… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    3 days ago
  • Global milk prices now lowest in 6 years
    The latest fall in the global dairy price has brought it to the lowest level in six years and shows there must be meaningful action in tomorrow’s Budget to diversify the economy, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Dairy prices… ...
    3 days ago
  • Big risks as CYF checks stopped
    Revelations that Child, Youth and Family is no longer assisting home-based early childhood educators by vetting potential employees should set alarm bells ringing, Labour Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Doing away with an extra mechanism for checking potential new employees… ...
    3 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    3 days ago
  • Housing crisis about real people not numbers
    The Government’s continued failure to tackle the housing crisis is seeing thousands of vulnerable Kiwis being kept off social housing waiting lists, while others, who are on the list, are being forced to live in cars and garages, says Labour’s… ...
    3 days ago
  • State of origin
    Kiwis are increasingly concerned about the food they give their families. New Zealand consumers have the right to know where their food has come from, particularly when it involves animals, and should be able to expect our Government to label… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    3 days ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa
    It is disturbing that Relationships Aotearoa, a voluntary organisation set up in 1949 to help couples struggling with their relationships following the upheavals of World War II, may be forced to close, says Acting Spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community… ...
    4 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • An economy that is just working for some is an economy that is not working
    The National Party presents itself as a great manager of the economy, but if the economy is only working for some we really need to question that assertion. Alongside the perpetually elusive surplus, the levels of risk in our economy are… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    4 days ago
  • House prices to a crack $1 million in 17 months
    The average Auckland home is on track to cost $1 million in 17 months’ time if nothing substantial is done to rein in soaring price rises, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland’s house prices have skyrocketed 63 per cent… ...
    4 days ago
  • Vital support services can’t be left in lurch
    The National Government has big questions to answer about how a provider of services to thousands of vulnerable New Zealanders is set to fold, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. Relationships Aotearoa which provides support and counselling to families, individuals… ...
    4 days ago
  • Treasury and IRD on a capital gains tax
    Both the Treasury and IRD have been advising the National Government on the benefits of a capital gains tax. Documents released to the Green Party under an Official Information Act request show that John Key has been selective with the… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    5 days ago
  • Charity legislation needs review
    It is unacceptable that the big corporate based charities claim  millions in annual income tax exemptions, while small community based and operated non-profit organisations  struggle to gain official charity status, Labour’s acting spokesperson for the Voluntary and Community Sector Louisa… ...
    5 days ago
  • John’s panic-Key response to housing crisis
    John Key needs to tell New Zealanders what caused his sudden change of heart that led to the Government’s scrambled and last-minute housing measures, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “The Prime Minister’s sudden rush of blood to his head followed… ...
    5 days ago
  • Keep our Assets Christchurch Campaign: An update
    I recently presented my submission to keep Christchurch Council assets at the Christchurch City Council’s public hearings on its 10 year plan on 13 May. The hearings are live-streamed and recorded so you can watch them on www.ccc.govt.nz. The Council’s… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    5 days ago
  • John Key finally admits there’s a housing crisis
    John Key’s weak measures to rein in the astronomical profits property speculators are making are an admission – finally – that there is a housing crisis, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “But yet again National is tinkering with the housing… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government stifles voices in CYFs review
    The Government’s exclusion of the Māori Women’s Welfare League in a panel on the future of CYFs is a cynical ploy to stifle views, says Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta. “It's unbelievable that a significant review on the future… ...
    1 week ago
  • Speech to the Otago Chamber of Commerce
    Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here today. It’s a pleasure as always to be back in the town that raised me. Growing up in St Kilda meant that there was one thing that was a big… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key can’t just be Prime Minister for Parnell
    John Key must show New Zealanders in next week’s Budget that he is more than the Prime Minister for Parnell, and is also the Prime Minister for Pine Hill, Putararu and Palmerston North, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. In… ...
    1 week ago
  • Stop the conversions
    This week, some Waikato locals took me and intrepid photographer Amanda Rogers on a tour of some  lakes and waterways in their region, and up to the massive dairy conversions in the upper catchment of the Waikato River. It… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • More regional jobs go in Corrections reshape
    News that 194 Corrections staff are to lose their jobs will have ramifications not only for them and their families but for the wider community, Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis says. Prison units at Waikeria, Tongariro and Rimutaka face closure… ...
    1 week ago
  • Government’s climate meetings off to a bumpy start
    On Wednesday, I attended a hui and an evening meeting that the Government had organised in Nelson as part of its climate change consultation tour, to support the Nelson community telling the Government to take meaningful action on climate change.… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    1 week ago
  • Taxpayers the only ones left feeling blue
    Ministry of Social Development bosses could have saved themselves thousands of dollars in consultants’ fees by providing staff with rose-tinted spectacles, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi says. A report out today reveals the Ministry is spending over half a… ...
    1 week ago
  • Why are the regions still facing restrictions?
    Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is questioning why the regions should continue to be saddled with LVR lending restrictions announced by the Reserve Bank today. “Labour has been calling for the regions to be exempted from LVRs for the best… ...
    1 week ago
  • The high costs of weak environmental regulation
    Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere is described on the Department of Conservation website as “Canterbury’s largest and New Zealand’s fifth largest [lake], and an internationally important wildlife area.” But the lake is also polluted by nutrients leaching from farms in the catchment.… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Submissions to Wellington City Council on their Gambling Venues Policy
    Every three years Councils across the country are required to check that their gambling venue policies are still fit for purpose and they can choose to consult on their policy if they are thinking of making changes. Councils don’t have… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Reserve Bank action shows Govt out of touch and out of ideas
    The Reserve Bank’s unprecedented measures today show it understands the serious risks of the overheating housing market – in complete contrast to John Key’s refusal to acknowledge the crisis, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The Bank is right to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Send us your snaps: 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year we've hit a milestone. We're turning 25.To help celebrate a quarter of a century, please send us your photos from the last 25 years of the Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand! Note: Photos must be jpg, gif or… ...
    1 week ago
  • 25 Years of the Green Party
    This year the Green Party sends 25. To help us celebrate a quarter of a century please send us you photos of 25 years of the Green Party!Photos must be jpg,gif or png and smaller than 2MB. If you are… ...
    1 week ago
  • Bay growth plan too little too late
    Today’s Bay of Plenty growth study from MBIE is another example of Government spin - lots of talk but little action, says Labour’s Regional Development spokesperson David Cunliffe.  “This is a region that desperately needs to develop the downstream processing… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government bows to ACC pressure
     The Government has finally buckled to pressure from Labour and the New Zealand public in making a half billion dollar cut to ACC levies, but the full benefits are two years away,” says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “$500 million over… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • False figures cloud Auckland transport facts
    The Prime Minister should apologise and issue a correction after both he and Transport Minister Simon Bridges have been caught out misrepresenting facts on Auckland’s transport spending, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. "Both John Key and Simon Bridges have… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt books confirm National can’t post surplus
    The last publication of the Government’s books before the budget shows National will break its promise of seven years and two election campaigns and fail to get the books in order, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government is… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • US state joins NZ with GE food labelling
    New Zealand has a similar law making the labelling of many GE foods compulsory, but the Government seems to let it slide.  Because the government has not monitored or enforced our GE food labelling laws since 2003, it seems the… ...
    GreensBy Steffan Browning MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour Pays Tribute to Erima Henare
    “E ua e te ua tata rahi ana, Ko te hua i te kamo taheke i runga raa. No reira e te rangatira Erima takoto mai I roto I te ringa o Ihowa o nga Mano e moe e.” ...
    2 weeks ago

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