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After Homs

Written By: - Date published: 11:04 am, March 5th, 2012 - 39 comments
Categories: human rights, war - Tags:

In my previous post I laid out the reasons why a NATO/US intervention in Syria is unlikely, even though the alternative will almost certainly be defeat of the freedom fighters and even more mass murder by the regime. There’s no strategic gain from the Right’s perspective and many on the Left would rather see a massacre than US military action. Homs has fallen. So, what next for the rebels?

The fracturing of a regime’s monopoly on violence is a necessary precursor to a successful revolution. Often, particularly in modern times, this will mean part of the security forces will go over to the other side or refuses to fight. Syria has that with the mass desertion of Sunni conscripts, many of whom have joined the Free Syrian Army or other local groups.

Sometimes, that is enough to break the regime’s resolve (eg Ukraine’s Orange Revolution and the overthrow of Milosevic) if the regime is decrepit and can’t face an internal military confrontation. The Syrain people weren’t so lucky – their tyrant has plenty of fight in him.

The Free Syrian Army’s initial strategy was very sound, classic guerrilla warfare. They launched hit and run attacks on elements of the special security forces and left the regular army alone, apart from some ambushes where they shot officers and invited the conscripts to join them or desert. They didn’t seek to hold land or cities, they sought to do damage and then disappear. And they didn’t bring the wrath of the regime on civilians

It’s a good strategy. One that’s worked numerous times over thousands of years – slowly ebbing away the regime’s strength and isolating it, while keeping the population onside and gaining their trust. Like Mao says, the guerrilla must swim in the people as the fish swims in the sea.

But there’s a classic counter-strategy to this that a regime which is willing to play sufficiently hardball will employ: identify a civilian well-spring of the rebellion and pound the shit out of it. Unless they are extraordinarily disciplined and well-led (eg the Viet Cong), the rebels can be drawn into trying to defend their civilians and fighting in the regime’s terms – a classic face-to-face battle where heavy weapons excel, rather than light infantry shoot and scoot, which is where the rebels have a natural advantage.

That’s what happened at Homs. The deployment of the regime army around what was already a centre of the rebellion drew in more and more rebel fighters. Satellite imagery compiled from Human Rights Watch shows 1000s of shells were fired into the Baba Amr quarter killing hundreds of rebel fighters and civilians before the Free Syrian Army withdrew. In the aftermath, there are reports of summary executions and the Red Cross/Red Crescent has been denied access (hey, conspiracy theorists – I’m sure they’re all part of the conspiracy that is inventing this whole thing for no reason too).

So the Free Syrian Army as been given a hiding. What now? It could well be that the groundswell of support for overthrowing the regime will diminish now that the rebel fighters have been seen to be defeated, and as word of the regime’s atrocities spreads with the clear rider: you could be next. That’s what happened after Assad’s daddy did the same thing to Hama 30 years ago.

But, if we want to see the murderer Assad gone, then the Free Syrian Army could still pull it off, if they go back to the tactics that work. They will need to be disciplined about refusing to take the regime forces on in front-on combat. Instead, fight by ambush and gradually weaken until the regime’s ability to project its power and enforce its rule fades. Don’t try to take or hold land, just make it impossible for the regime to do so. It’s a long-term strategy and it means not being drawn into defending cities – when the Vietnamese did it the cost was appalling.

But, if the rest of the world is going to sit on its chuff and let Assad murder his people, slow and bloody is the only way that the Syrian people will win their freedom.

Frankly, it looks like Assad’s going to crush the rebels now and Syrians will suffer greatly without gaining self-determination. I understand the realpolitik of letting these people die but let’s not pretend that we aren’t turning our backs on them.

39 comments on “After Homs”

  1. Conal 1

    I can’t help feeling that another motive for the rebel strategy was to provoke a decisive NATO intervention on their side as was done in Kosovo and Libya.

  2. muzza 2

    Can anyone from The Standard please explain why the site is letting this unblanced writing about such a sentitive topic, continue to be published with seemingly no QA, or factual research by the author?

    Can the author at least list the sources he is using to substantiate his views?

    • Te Reo Putake 2.1

      The posts are intended to start discussion, Muzza. It’s an opinion, which we’re all free to counter (or agree with).

      • muzza 2.1.1

        So you think that opinion pieces are appropiate when talking about a war zone Voice?

        While I concur about the discussions part relating to the articles on the site, those written about the ME, have been heavily lacking in any attempt to bring balance for such subject matter.

        The readers on this site are possible rather more decerning than say the NZH, where I have seen a more balanced point of view than this drivel!

        I do not buy your rationale on this at all!

        • Te Reo Putake 2.1.1.1

          Yes, muzza, I do think opinion pieces are appropriate when talking about war zones. It would be very strange if that were not the case! Indeed, the anti-war movement have used opinion pieces to make their point since at least the Vietnam war, to my certain knowlege.
           
          Opinion pieces are not required to be internally balanced, because they represent an individual’s view of a subject. They can, however, be externally balanced by having an alternative POV also presented, if the publisher feels that is appropriate. That works in, say, Time magazine, or the Listener, but it’s hardly needed on a blog.
           
          In this case, MV’s opinion seems to have some substance. It’s a well presented picture of the situation there, as he sees it. I don’t agree with all he says, but I haven’t seen any serious rebuttal of it yet, either. If their needs to be balance, then by all means provide it. But I would still encourage MV to continue posting, because these are issues that need to be talked about.
           
          My quick summary of the Syrian situation: Assad should be captured or killed as soon as possible. But that won’t happen because the Syrians don’t have much oil.

    • Conal 2.2

      Yes It’s interesting how completely this toes the official NATO line, albeit with a “left” tinge. It’s not something isolated though; I’ve seen the same thing on social-democratic blogs a number of times, backing NATO against the governments of Yugoslavia and Libya, in particular. Let’s not underestimate the ideological power of the mass media to justify wars!

      A couple of major points to note:

      There’s an absolute dichotomy presented between Assad the Tyrant on the one hand, and the entire Syrian People on the other, apparently fully represented by the FSA Freedom Fighters. Does Assad’s regime not have considerable popular support? Actually it does, but you would never guess it from this article. It’s very much a cardboard cut-out picture of Syria.

      Another interesting point is how it identifies with Western imperialism. The talk about “getting off your chuff” is I suppose code for a NATO bombing campaign or even invasion. The identification of “us” with NATO is astonishing. Are “we” really turning our backs on the Syrian people? I don’t even have a single drone, fighter bomber, or cruise missile (and NZ as a whole is not much better equipped in that respect, actually). Am I in charge of NATO? Is NZ? Are the populations of the countries who actually make up NATO? Hardly. So hho exactly is this “we”?

      Note also that other countries (in the Arab League for instance, and also Russia) got “off their chuffs” to try to organise peace talks between the warring sides. Isn’t that a commendable effort? Why is war apparently the only option? And why did the Syrian opposition refuse to negotiate with Assad? They thought they could triumph militarily by themselves? Unlikely! They thought NATO would intervene to assure their victory? Perhaps if NATO had been less bellicose they might have considered a negotiated solution instead.

      • Blighty 2.2.1

        Assad represents the ruling Alawite elite, which maintains its power through secret police, repression and bombardment of cities that rise up. If you call that ‘popular support’, well, good for you.

    • Blighty 2.3

      write a guest post if you want to offer a counter view.

      You could title it: Why the Syrian rebels deserve to die

      • Conal 2.3.1

        Yes, because what I really want to do is to buy into a mirror image of the same simplistic and naive view presented here.

        This isn’t “Cowboys and Indians”, Blighty.

        [edit] whoops I think Blighty’s snide comment was actually to someone else.

    • lprent 2.4

      All posts written by our authors are their opinions. That is why their names or pseudonyms are attached to the posts. There is no editorial policy (apart from “I don’t want to be sued” or “all the other authors are up in arms”) for authors that we give logins to. Neither is the case with these posts. Commentators are up in arms usually doesn’t rate because you usually find a wider range of opinion…

      If you disagree then comment on why you disagree (just don’t personally attack the author because I grant holidays from commenting for that). If you want to make it more prominent then write a guest post and send it in. We will usually post anything that is coherent and argues an opinion.

      BTW: It is reasonably comment to find other authors disagreeing in comments, and sometimes even getting wound up enough to write opposing posts. The most recent I remember is Zet? writing something sarcastic about Shearer, and then Mike writing something complimentary.

  3. coolas 3

    A link to The Independent and Robert Fisk – thanks to NoRightTurn – gives a broader point of view

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-the-fearful-realities-keeping-the-assad-regime-in-power-7534769.html

    Sickening to read the comments about Falluja in 2004 where US forces killed thousands of civilians and left a toxic legacy by using white phosphorous. The US target weren’t ‘freedom fighters’, of course. They were ‘rebels’ or ‘terrorists.’ So that’s okay!

    • SpaceMonkey 3.1

      Add to the white phosphorous the copius amounts of DU the US have littered around Iraq (some 1,000 tons within the first 3 weeks) and now Libya.

      http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=3116
      http://www.voltairenet.org/NATO-War-Crimes-Depleted-Uranium

      • coolas 3.1.1

        Thanks for links. But shocking, eh. I just can’t get my head around how this is allowed to happen.

        • Conal 3.1.1.1

          It’s shocking alright. But to drag the topic of conversation back to this post about the Syrian conflict, I would argue that this kind of post is itself very much part of how Western aggression is allowed to happen. Western imperialists have learned from the failure of their war against Vietnam that they need to exert more effective ideological control over their own populations when waging wars overseas. Especially in left forums like the Standard, actually, since this is the kind of place where anti-war positions might be expected. The ideology of “humanitarian intervention” is a useful tool for war-mongers who are happy to use it as a fig-leaf for wars which they actually wage for very different reasons, and with very different results.

          There’s a standard pattern in psyops of this type: firsts demonise the enemy-of-the-day, white-wash their opposition, and hand-wringingly ask “why won’t someone intervene for humanitarian reasons?” There’s a lot of talk about law and morality and responsibility to protect.

          Then when the imperial powers start their military campaign, there’s a psyops campaign to white-wash it; all ordnance used are “smart bombs” incapable of killing civilians; all the dead are deemed to have been legitimate targets; all the country’s destroyed infrastructure turns out to have been military in nature; enemy journalists killed were actually propagandists who deserved death; etc. Contradictory reports are deemed to be enemy propaganda. Contradictory reports that are too well-attested to be denied are deemed to be highly exceptional “collateral damage” which is regretted but sacrifices have to be made, etc.

          A few weeks later the whole thing can be forgotten. The new rulers can commit all kinds of crimes, including ethnic cleansing, torture and assassination. The gaze of the world’s media has moved on to yet another benighted third world country ruled by an “evil tyrant” who must be killed for the sake of humanity. “Mission Accomplished”.

          • Morrissey 3.1.1.1.1

            The ideology of “humanitarian intervention” is a useful tool for war-mongers…

            Quite true. The call for “humanitarian intervention” might carry some moral weight if it were not led by the likes of Hillary Clinton, William Hague and Nicholas Sarkozy. Not one of these human rights champions uttered a single word in favour of “humanitarian intervention” during Israel’s bloody invasions of Lebanon or Gaza. In fact, they all applauded the killing.

          • coolas 3.1.1.1.2

            Interesting – Evil Saddam v’s the Liberators, Evil Gaddafi v’s Democracy warriors, Evil Mubarak v’s People Power .. now .. Evil Assad v’s the Freedom Army. It reads like advertising (and comics) which is what you’re saying it is really. And I get your point that this post panders to that simplistic idea. Good v’s Evil. Got it. Where’s the remote?

  4. Kevin 4

    Assad has a lot of external support from Iran and also has been materially equipped with weapons and munitions from Russia and to a lesser degree China.
    Without that support Assad’s regime would struggle in a long drawn out civil war where the opposing forces, the Free Syria Army, with support from Nato, could mount a sustained and co ordinated response to the brutal regimes crackdown on democratic reforms.
    Assad realises that he is a marked man, and will always be a potential assassination target, a dead man walking. He won’t be able to maintain his hard line position over the long term.
    The Free Syria Army looks to have lost this initial battle, no doubt the recriminations against the organisers will be severe and brutal, however the seed of democracy has been planted and will grow over time especially with support from Nato agencies.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      however the seed of democracy has been planted and will grow over time especially with support from Nato agencies.

      Sure, every time NATO gets involved this is exactly what happens. What’s happening now in Libya BTW after NATO involvement? Any more Al Qaeda flags appearing on the government buildings there + declarations of Sharia law?

      You guys gotta be dreaming. Look how well the installment of the Shah of Iran or supporting the ‘freedom fighters’ in Afghanistan has gone for the west. Its like everyone has memories like sandflies.

  5. house 5

    Whilst I don’t want the Free Syrian Army to die (moreover I don’t want the civilians surrounding them to die), I’m not sure I want them to win either. Too often for the past 200 years Westerners have assumed the position of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. As the current mess in Libya illustrates (as equally messy situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Cambodia, etc have in the past) sometimes overthrowing bad results in worse.

    Anyway Fisk wrote a reasonable piece on the issue of the Free Syrian Army:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-could-there-be-some-bad-guys-among-the-rebels-too-6719999.html

  6. prism 6

    Conal and muzza are against the post it seems. But I still don’t understand what they think are the problems facing Syrian anti-government fighters. Are they wrong to oppose the government?
    Are they unreasonable malcontents?

    And why does each theatre of war have to drag all the others along on its back – Syria seen in connection with Gaddafi, with Saddam, with Israel etc. Almost the USA domino theory relating to Vietnam over again. It will be easy to say crushingly to me, that all these ME conflicts are related, but Syrians still have their own nation to contend with. Lecturing commenters isn’t talking about Syrians and why a significant group might, do, want to change governance.

    What role does religion play? There was a mention that Sunni fighters withdrew from the government army. Is there a split along these lines? I’ll see what Robert Fisk says from house link above.

    • Conal 6.1

      Just a quick answer, from my perspective.

      I deliberately didn’t give an opinion on the rights and wrongs of the Syrian uprising. I’m absolutely sure that the opposition has valid reasons for discontent with the Baath Party regime. No doubt about it. But I’m not going to presume to lecture them on how to carry out their political struggle. That’s their business.

      Which brings me to the crux of my opposition to this post. The key point of this post, it seems to me, is to attempt to justify Western military attacks on a sovereign state, through a spurious appeal to humanitarianism, whereas in fact the benefits of these attacks flow primarily to elite sectors within the Western powers themselves.

      I say “spurious” because the military establishments of the Western “great powers” don’t intervene for humanitarian reasons. That’s just not how they roll. If that were the real motive, then they would have intervened in a much larger number of dire humanitarian crises, which I’m not going to list; suffice to say that if you look at the record, it’s more than a bit patchy.

      When the Western powers do intervene, there’s typically another rather obvious self-serving motive to be seen. In the Middle East, strategic control of the world’s major oil reserves is the most obvious consideration. Imperialism is a real phenomenon in world politics; the elites of the Great Powers know what they want and they’ll lie and bully and go to war at the drop of a hat if it looks necessary.

      That’s the thread that links all these wars together.

      • MValley 6.1.1

        the rebels are asking for help to stop them being slaughtered by the regime’s heavy weapons so that they can win their freedom. We would ask for (and get because most of us are white) the same help if it was us.

        As for ‘you can’t a attack a sovereign state no matter what they do to their people’, that’s a notion that I would have hoped went out in 1945.

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          Starting an unwinnable and widespread war against a regime with heavy weapons and then asking for help afterwards from outside is a low quality, untenable, non-military strategy.

        • Con 6.1.1.2

          So if NZ was languishing under some cruel tyranny, NATO would come to our aid because we’re white? Like how NATO came to the aid of those Chileans during the years of Pinochet’s dictatorship? Or how NATO overthrew the fascist regime of Generalissimo Franco? No, because NATO doesn’t work like that. They’re not some kind of international humanitarian aid agency, no matter what they’d like you to think.

          It beggars belief the illusions some people harbour about NATO and US imperialism generally! You only have to look at what they actually do. If they invade a country, it’s to subordinate it to their rule. That’s what they’re paying good money for; not to make the world a happy place. And that’s why, if NATO were to attack Syria, no matter what high-sounding motives and goals they claimed to have, it would not produce a good outcome for Syrians, or for other countries in the region.

    • muzza 6.2

      My isue is with the article at this stage, as the author is IMO responsible for propagating a so called point of view which reads as ignortantly unresearched. Some seem to think that opinion pieces are ok on such suvject matter, but that is weak and a cop out! When you are talking about war, at least have the depth to give it some serious balanced thought. Yes its a blog, but what is the difference between this space or a similar piece of nonsene in the MSM? Actually the difference is that I would expect better from this site!

      Writing from an angle which seems to want to induce the thoughts of the reader into reasons why the west should intervene, is simply not good enough. If the writer gave some sort of balance then came up with the conclusions the west should intervene, I would still disagree., but at least it would be balanced.

      Syria is a complicated situation, and that is why I am have not given opinions, as I have not spent the time researching it enough. So far as events in Libya which is did comment on in the authors Iran piece, as I had taken time to try to understand the happenings, and also had first hand information from people who were inside Libya, and who are from that country.

      An article like this should have links, and so far Michaels writings have not given a single one! Having read Fisks articles, it is clear that MV would do well do leave this subject matter alone until he has some very sound knowledge on the situation, either that or just simple ak for peoples opinions, instead of writing his own, which looks to be very wrong!

      • MValley 6.2.1

        yeah. you got me. it’s all made up. I’m listening to audio of refugees from Homs on Radio NZ now about how their men are being executed. But it’s clearly all a fabrication. The ‘refugees’ are in on it. So is the BBC. So’s Radio NZ.

        Why would they all conspire to invent this? Don’t ask stupid questions. ‘They’ want to slander that nice man Assad and justify an intervention.

        But everyone knows Assad and his father have ruled by murder and terror for 45 years, there’s no strategic value in Syria for the West and they clearly don’t want to intervene or they would have done so already.

        Trust me. I’ve done plenty of research on the Middle East.

        • Colonial Viper 6.2.1.1

          Trust me. I’ve done plenty of research on the Middle East.

          I mean, this is the nub of the issue. Chechnya, Tibet, Sudan, East Timor plenty of places in the world where govts oppress and kill civilians via secret police and military means for years and decades, yet its whoever the “Allies” are interested in for whatever particular geopolitical priorities they have on a particular day which are deemed important.

      • lprent 6.2.2

        It doesn’t indicate unresearched to me. It sounds like a continuation of the depressing pattern that Syria has displayed over the last 30 years that I have watched and read about it. The main difference this time is how widespread the rebellion is. That will constrain the regime on their usual divide and conquer tactics and require occupation forces across much of the country. But they probably don’t have enough supporting populations to do it this time.

        I think that this time there is going to be enough porosity on neighboring borders to sustain a internal guerrilla war. And an unwillingness on the part of conscripts to get conscripted.

  7. Pascal's bookie 7

    Not entirely sure if I can be bothered engaging with this, (particulary on a dodgy connection the back up PC), but it really is some pretty superficial and intellectually dishonest dreck.

    Rather than just characterising the opinions of those with whom you disagree, why don’t you link to them?

    I’ve read pretty widely on this, and I’ve not seen anyone say that the west shouldn’t charge in because “America”. Maybe I don’t read the things you read, but you clearly don’t read what I’ve been reading either, so we are at a match there.

    The case against intervention is based on realism. The regime is much better equiped than that in Libya was. They are not going to be running short on heavy armour, artillery, or missiles for a long time unless we are prepared to go with some very heavy bombardment with all that entails.

    You just can’t wave your hands around the question of what our intervention will do in terms of the regime’s reaction. If we intervene, we will be bound to the ongoing conflict, we will be bound to react to the reaction from the regime’s supporters in Iran, and so on. We will be responsible for the regimes reaction insofar that if/when they step up their response in terms of death squads summary executions and what not, we will have to do something about that. Boots on the ground cannot be taken off the table. If you take them off the table, you give the regime obvious moves to make.

    On the self determination question, it’s apple pie. But to be worth eating, it has to be cooked right. If the regime has lost the monopoly on the use of force, and a civil war is in place that will result in the fall of the regime, then good, as far as I’m concerned. But that is a far call from saying that any and every uprising against tyrants is something we should get involved in. Civil wars are awful business. Making them worse is not a liberal thing to do unless you are very clear about the chances for victory, the nature of the opposition, the depth of it’s support, and the brittleness of the regime’s domestic and international support.

    Everything I’ve seen, (and I read mostly from places like Foreign Policy, hardly hotbeds of handwringing leftist anti americanism) indicates that it really is a lot more complicated than supporters of intervention make out. The results in Libya should at least give some pause. Our responsibility 2 protect seems to have stopped somehow, though I’ve not had it explained to me why.

    Afghanistan and Iraq also give us lessons about self determination, if we care to look.

    One lesson is that when countries, any countries, jump in to0 deliver self determination to struggl;ing people, they seem to have a feeling that they should get a say in what the determination looks like. That’s only natural, and also, in many respects fair.

    You say that I need to front to the fact that I’m just letting people die. fairly haevy shit, but fair enough if you accept certain presuppositions.

    You need to explain though why you are so certain that intervention does not have a high chance of making things worse, if only because that’s the argument that actually out there. The argument is that a high chance of many casualties and a slim chance of victory, is better than a high chance of many many more casualties, a broadened conflict, cross border refugees and paramilitary action with only an arguably better chance of victory.

    You might dispute that ‘arguably’, but would you support NZ troops on the ground fighting hizbollah cells in two years time? If not then define victory, and define at which points you’d cut and run.

    Sorry about the rantish nature, but throw stones, get blowback 😉

  8. MValley 8

    yeah. I know there’s a realist argument against intervention in Syria. Realism is inherently about self-interest and there’s more self-interest for the West’s elites in letting the people of Syria be murdered than answering their cries for help.

    It’s some on the Left’s position I have more trouble with. Like I say, only a neo-con thinks you go around ‘saving’ every country from dictatorship and we’ve seen the results when they try. But that’s a very different situation from when a people are trying to overthrow their tyrant but are getting slaughtered (willing slaughtered, which tells you something about their determination) because only one side has the heavy weapons.

    I don’t know why some in the Left (and you can see the comments in the Syria post) are willing to turn a blind eye to people fighting for the rights we have who are just asking for a bit of help. We would expect the same.

    • Pascal's bookie 8.1

      Realism is inherently about self-interest and there’s more self-interest for the West’s elites in letting the people of Syria be murdered than answering their cries for help.

      Well, it’s about self interest insofar that a realist approach says that nations will tend to act towards their self percieved best interests. It’s an decsriptive idea, not a normative statement about what nations ought to do.

      Frinstance, if the west believed that the opposition in Syria were democratically minded types likely to move Syria away from it’s confrontational stance towards the west say, or likely to be less problematic in Lebanon, or likely to otherwise being democracy sexy freedom to the area, and likely to win if we just gave them a little help; then it would be ‘realistic’ to predict that they would indeed help them.

      If your analysis of what is happenning in Syria is correct, then it would be in the wests interests to help the opposition out.

      And just to be a tad snide, you can’t really talk about murder when you are also talking about the brave revolutionary. Declare war; get warred on. You don’t get to cry murder at the same time you are challenging the state’s monopoly on the use of force.

      • MValley 8.1.1

        assad was a murderer long before this. that’s why there’s an uprising. people don’t mind benevolent dictatorships, and they certainly don’t have to die fighting to overthrow them.

        The point is the realist analysis for intervention doesn’t stack up because of the regional and military complications. Democracy for Syrians, and their lives, just don’t factor high enough in the ‘West’s’ calculations.

        • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.1

          Using phrases like “freedom fighters” smacks of propaganda scripting.

          Avoiding discussions on the geopolitical self-interest of NATO and the US in the region (and hence their motivation to get involved now when Assad has been a killer for many years already – you said so yourself) while focussing purely in-country on Syria removes context. Also smacks of propaganda scripting.

          Would you call on NATO and the US to threaten Israel if Israel was bombing and shelling civilian houses in Palestine? Israel has done that before and I didn’t hear nary a peep from the US President or the UK PM. Because it wasn’t in the geopolitical interests of NATO and the US to get involved, of course.

          Basically Syria would be better off with true democratic rule for the people and by the people, and Assad gone, out of the picture. But your narrative scripting is rubbish.

          • rosy 8.1.1.1.1

            Avoiding discussions on the geopolitical self-interest of NATO and the US in the region …and hence their motivation to get involved

            From where I am, in Europe, there doesn’t seem to be an official appetite for involvement in Syria. There is no high value reason – no grudge against the leader, like Gaddafi, for example. But there are high value losses – like annoying the Russians (who do have naval base in Tartus). I just can’t see a NATO intervention happening. I think they’ll be leaving this to the regional powers. While hoping that Russia and China take on some of the diplomatic talks.

  9. Quay 9

    “There’s no strategic gain from the Right’s perspective and many on the Left would rather see a massacre than US military action.” ?

    There’s a massive gain for the right, bombing Iran’s only real ally would be hugely advantageous in the current climate, hence the rhetoric coming from Iraq war architects. That the left would rather see a massacre is an absurd comment, unless you’re referring to conspiracy-driven leftists.

  10. Rich 10

    I suspect that one issue behind this is that one thing Israel is really scared of is the outbreak of legitimate Arab governments. Despots like Assad can be dealt with secretly, maintain their countries in relative poverty, don’t have international support and have a military focused on internal repression.

    If Assad were deposed and replaced by a democratic government which ran a sound economy, had popular and international support and a military that could fight if called on, that would be bad news for Israel.

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  • Green Party opposes RMA fast-track bill that cut corners on environmental safeguards and public cons...
    The Green Party has opposed the COVID-19 Recovery Fast-track Consenting Bill which shortcuts normal consenting processes under the Resource Management Act (RMA), reduces public participation and narrows environmental considerations. ...
    1 week ago
  • Site of new freight hub revealed
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister of Regional Economic Development A regional freight hub for the lower North Island will be built just northeast of Palmerston North, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. The Government is investing $40 million through the Provincial Growth Fund to designate and buy land and design ...
    1 week ago
  • Greens call for Guaranteed Minimum Income to alleviate skyrocketing debt with MSD
    Green Party Co-leader Marama Davidson is calling for the introduction of a Guaranteed Minimum Income to lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty and prevent more families entering into further debt with the Ministry of Social Development.  ...
    1 week ago
  • Winston Peters: Facts matter when taxpayer money is on the line
    There has been renewed focus on New Zealand First acting as a handbrake on the Government after our decision to not support Auckland light rail. We are a handbrake for bad ideas, that is true, but our track record since 2017 has seen New Zealand First constructively also serve as an ...
    1 week ago
  • Bill raising minimum residency requirement for NZ Super passes first reading
    Mark Patterson MP, New Zealand First List MP New Zealand First’s Fair Residency for Superannuation Bill passed its First Reading in Parliament today. The Bill makes a significant change to NZ Super by raising the minimum residency requirement from 10 to 20 years, after age 20. “Currently, a migrant of ...
    1 week ago
  • Harsher penalties for assaults on first responders one step closer
    Darroch Ball MP, Spokesperson for Law and Order A New Zealand First member’s bill in the name of Darroch Ball introducing a six-month minimum prison sentence for assaults on first responders has passed its second reading in Parliament. The new offence of "injuring a first responder or corrections officer with ...
    1 week ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission delivers Coalition promise
    Fletcher Tabuteau MP, Deputy Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand First welcomes the launch of the new Criminal Cases Review Commission, gifted with the name from Waikato-Tainui - Te Kāhui Tātari Ture, announced in Hamilton today by Justice Minister Andrew Little. “New Zealand First has long believed in and ...
    1 week ago
  • Greens welcome huge new investment in sustainable projects
    The Green Party is celebrating over $800m in new funding for green projects, which will get people into jobs while solving New Zealand’s long-term challenges. ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand First demands answers from Meridian Energy
    Mark Patterson MP, Spokesperson for Primary Industries New Zealand First is appalled that Meridian seems to have been unnecessarily spilling water from its dams to drive up its profits."While New Zealanders have been coming together in some of our darkest hours, we don’t expect power gentailers to waste water and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Getting New Zealand moving again: June 2020
    We wrapped up the first half of 2020 with a busy month, taking additional steps to support New Zealanders as we continue with our economic recovery. We rolled out targeted packages to support key industries like tourism and construction, helped create jobs in the environmental and agriculture sectors, and set ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori union leader appointed to Infrastructure Commission board
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Infrastructure Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has welcomed the appointment of Maurice Davis and his deep infrastructure and construction experience to the board of the Infrastructure Commission. Mr Davis (Ngāti Maniapoto), is the seventh and final appointment to the board led by former Reserve Bank Governor ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Click-bait journalism at its worst
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand’s click bait journalism is taking a turn for the worse, with yet another example of sensationalist, wilful-misrepresentation of the facts. “New Zealand First has worked constructively with its Coalition partner on hundreds of pieces of legislation and policy, and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party proposes transformational Poverty Action Plan
    The Green Party is today unveiling its Poverty Action Plan, which includes a Guaranteed Minimum Income to ensure people have enough to live with dignity.     ...
    2 weeks ago
  • PGF accelerates Rotorua projects
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister Fletcher Tabuteau MP, Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development The Rotorua Museum redevelopment and Whakarewarewa and Tokorangi Forest projects will be accelerated thanks to a $2.09 million Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) boost, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: Getting people into jobs
    This week, we rolled out the next steps of our recovery plan, with new infrastructure investment, extra support for tourism operators, and a new programme to get Kiwis into agriculture careers. The global economic consequences of COVID-19 will continue to be a challenge, but we have a detailed plan to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Coalition commitment establishing Mental Health Commission delivered
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First welcomes the passage of the Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill through its final reading in Parliament today fulfilling a coalition agreement commitment. “This is an important step in saving the lives of New Zealanders and delivers a key coalition commitment ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Whakatāne gets a $2.5m ‘turbo boost’
    Whakatāne has been given a $2.5 million boost to speed up previously funded projects and create more than 450 jobs in the next decade. Of those, the equivalent of 160 full-time jobs could be delivered in the next six weeks. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters is in town to make ...
    2 weeks ago
  • $2.5m PGF funding to speed up economic recovery in Whakatāne
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister Fletcher Tabuteau MP, Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $2.5 million to accelerate three infrastructure projects in Whakatāne, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. “This package is about ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Shane Jones calls out those holding drought-stricken Auckland ‘to ransom’ over water
    Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones is throwing his weight behind a bid by the Auckland Council to fast-track the more than doubling of the city's water allowance from the Waikato River. And he's coming out strongly against anyone who plans on getting in the way of this campaign. "It is my ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Another Green win as climate change considerations inserted into the RMA
    The Green Party is thrilled to see changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) that mean consents for large projects can be declined if they will have significant climate change implications that are inconsistent with the Zero Carbon Act and Aotearoa New Zealand’s Paris Agreement obligations.  ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New Navy vessel Aotearoa to arrive in New Zealand
    Hon Ron Mark, Minister of Defence The Royal New Zealand Navy’s new ship, Aotearoa, set sail for New Zealand on 10 June from the Republic of Korea, and is due to arrive in Auckland tomorrow, announced Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “Aotearoa is the Royal New Zealand Navy’s new fleet ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Racing Industry Bill passes third reading
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Racing Racing Minister Winston Peters has today welcomed the Racing Industry Bill passing its third reading, creating the legislative framework for revitalising the racing industry while limiting the need for future government intervention. “For too long our domestic racing industry has ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party seek amendment to ensure all prisoners can vote
    The Green Party has today put forward an amendment to the Electoral (Registration of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Bill to ensure all people in prisons can vote in general elections. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party welcomes new approach to delivering light rail
    The Green Party welcomes the decision to not proceed with Public Public Investment (PPI) delivery of Auckland’s light rail project and to instead run the process through the public service. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand First welcomes PGF investment in Wairarapa Water
    Hon Ron Mark, New Zealand First List MP based in the Wairarapa New Zealand First List MP Hon Ron Mark welcomes the announcement of Provincial Growth Funding investment of $1.4 million to help secure the Wairarapa’s water supply. The funding boost will allow the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC), and ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand First MP Mark Patterson selected as candidate for Taieri
    New Zealand First list MP Mark Patterson has been selected to represent the party in the newly formed Taieri electorate at the upcoming election. Mr Patterson, his wife Jude and two daughters farm sheep and beef at Lawrence and Waitahuna. He previously stood in the Clutha-Southland electorate however boundary changes ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Ground-breaking on NZ Post depot
    Hon Shane Jones, Associate Minister for State Owned Enterprises A new ‘super depot’ to be built for NZ Post in Wellington will create around 350 jobs during construction, Associate Minister for State Owned Enterprises Shane Jones says. Shane Jones today attended a ground-breaking and blessing ceremony for the parcel-processing depot ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: Putting our economic plan into action
    Our strong economic management prior to COVID-19 - with surpluses, low debt and near-record-low unemployment - put us in a good position to weather the impact of the virus and start to rebuild our economy much earlier than many other countries. Now we're putting our plan to recover and rebuild ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Fleeing drivers hit new record-high yet again
    Darroch Ball MP, New Zealand First Spokesperson for Law and Order Recently released Police fleeing driver statistics have shown yet another increase in incidents with another record-high in the latest quarter. “This new quarterly record-high is the latest in a string of record-high numbers since 2014.  The data shows incidents ...
    3 weeks ago

  • New support package for wildlife institutions
    Wildlife institutions affected by a loss of visitor revenue during the COVID-19 lockdown are set to receive government support with nearly $15 million of funding available announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.  “Eco-sanctuaries, zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, and wildlife rescue, hospital and rehabilitation facilities provide crucial support for the recovery ...
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    1 hour ago
  • 300,000 students to benefit from free mental health services
    The Government is expanding and accelerating frontline mental health and wellbeing services at tertiary education institutes (TEI) to help students manage ongoing stresses related to COVID-19. “The lockdown has been hugely disruptive for students. Many of them have had to relocate and move to online learning, isolating them from their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Gang crime, meth harm targeted in Waikato
    The Minister of Police says a major operation against the Mongrel Mob in Waikato will make a big dent in drug harm and violent offending linked to organised crime networks. “Senior leadership of the Waikato Mongrel Mob has been taken out as a result of Operation Kingsville, which resulted in ...
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    21 hours ago
  • Supporting victims and families to attend mosque attack sentencing
    The Government is extending the border exception criteria to enable some offshore victims and support people of the Christchurch mosque attacks to attend the sentencing of the accused beginning on 24 August2020, says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. “We want to support our valued Muslim brothers and sisters who were directly ...
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    21 hours ago
  • Boost for community freshwater restoration projects
    A project to support volunteer efforts to look after streams and rivers is getting a boost thanks to support from DOC’s Community Conservation Fund announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage today.  “The government is backing efforts to look after waterways with $199,400 for the Mountains to Sea Conservation Trust from ...
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    22 hours ago
  • More support for women and girls
    Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter today announced that funding for the COVID-19 Community Fund for women and girls will be doubled, as the first successful funding applications for the initial $1million were revealed. “Women and girls across the country have suffered because of the effects of COVID-19, and I ...
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    23 hours ago
  • Crown accounts stronger than forecast with higher consumer spending
    The Government’s books were better than forecast with a higher GST take as the economy got moving again after lockdown, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Crown Accounts for the 11 months to the end of May indicate the year end results for tax revenue will be stronger than forecast. ...
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    1 day ago
  • Govt releases plan to revitalise wool sector
    A plan to revitalise New Zealand’s strong wool sector and set it on a new, more sustainable and profitable path was unveiled today by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. The newly-released report - Vision and Action for New Zealand’s Wool Sector - was developed by the Wool Industry Project Action Group ...
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    1 day ago
  • Funding for Predator Free Whangārei
    Community efforts to create a Predator Free Whangārei will receive a $6 million boost, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today. The new funding, through Government company Predator Free 2050 Ltd, will create around 12 jobs while enabling the complete removal of possums over ...
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    1 day ago
  • New Zealand to review relationship settings with Hong Kong
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced that the New Zealand Government is reviewing the settings of its relationship with Hong Kong. “China’s decision to pass a new national security law for Hong Kong has fundamentally changed the environment for international engagement there,” Mr Peters said. “New Zealand remains deeply ...
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    2 days ago
  • Funding for Whangārei’s infrastructure projects revealed
    Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced details of a multimillion-dollar investment in Whangārei for infrastructure projects that will help it recover from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 200 jobs are expected to be created through the $26 million investment from the Government’s rejuvenation package ...
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    2 days ago
  • Managed isolation and quarantine update
    Following a second incident in which a person escaped from a managed isolation facility, security is being enhanced, including more police presence onsite, Minister Megan Woods said. “The actions of some individuals who choose to break the very clear rules to stay within the facilities means that more resourcing is ...
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    2 days ago
  • Funding for Kaipara district community waste programmes
    Waste reduction and recycling programmes in Kaipara are set to get a boost with Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage today announcing a $361,447 grant from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF) Sustainable Kaipara. “The new funding will allow Sustainable Kaipara to partner with local schools, kura, community ...
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    2 days ago
  • Government will support the people and economy of Southland
    The Government will support the Southland economy in the wake of multinational mining company Rio Tinto’s decision to follow through with its long signalled closure of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter. “This day has unfortunately been on the cards for some time now, but nevertheless the final decision is a ...
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    2 days ago
  • New transformational tools for the Predator Free 2050 effort
    New tools being developed to help boost Aotearoa’s Predator Free 2050 effort were unveiled today by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau. A new rat poison, a camera with predator recognition software to detect and report predators, a new predator lure and a ...
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    2 days ago
  • New Armoured vehicles for New Zealand Army
    The Coalition Government has approved the purchase of a fleet of Bushmaster vehicles to replace the New Zealand Army’s armoured Pinzgauers, Defence Minister Ron Mark has announced today. The new fleet of 43 Australian-designed and built Bushmaster NZ5.5 will provide better protection for personnel and improved carrying capacity. “The age ...
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    3 days ago
  • Community-led solutions to prevent family violence
    The Government’s three prevention frameworks to reduce family violence in Aotearoa were launched this week by Associate Minister for Social Development Poto Williams.   The frameworks were developed in partnership with communities around New Zealand, and build on the work the Government has already begun with its new family violence prevention ...
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    3 days ago
  • Govt confirms investment in better radiology and surgical services for Hawke’s Bay
    The Government is pleased to confirm funding for improvements to radiology and surgical services at Hawke's Bay DHB, Health Minister Chris Hipkins says.     "The Minister of Finance the Hon Grant Robertson and former Health Minister Dr David Clark approved funding for Hawke's Bay DHB’s redevelopment of their radiology facilities ...
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    3 days ago
  • Specialist alcohol and drug addiction services strengthened across New Zealand
    •    New funding for four beds at Napier’s Springhill Residential Addiction Centre •    A new managed withdrawal home and community service, and peer support before and after residential care at Tairāwhiti DHB  •    A co-ordinated network of withdrawal management services throughout the South Island •    Peer support in Rotorua and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Coastal Shipping Webinar
    Introduction, seafarers and POAL Good morning everyone, I am delighted to be online with you all today. Before I begin, I have to acknowledge that COVID-19 has disrupted the maritime sector on an unprecedented scale. The work of seafarers and the maritime industry is keeping many economies around the world ...
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    3 days ago
  • Support for resilient rail connection to the West Coast
    A $13 million investment from Government will create jobs and improve the resilience of the rail connection between Christchurch and the West Coast, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones and Regional Economic Development Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau say. The funding comes from the tagged contingency set aside in Budget 2020 for infrastructure projects ...
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    3 days ago
  • Major investment in safe drinking water
    The Government is investing $761 million to assist local government upgrade under-pressure water services across the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.  The announcement was made at the site of the water bore that was found to be the source of the fatal ...
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    3 days ago
  • Supporting stranded seasonal workers to keep working with more flexible options
    Recognised Seasonal Employers and migrant seasonal workers stranded in New Zealand will be able to continue working and supporting themselves with more flexible hours and roles, says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. The time-limited visa changes are: Stranded RSE workers will be able to work part-time (a minimum of 15 hours ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Relief for temporary migrants, employers and New Zealanders who need work
    The Government is making immediate short-term changes to visa settings to support temporary migrants already onshore in New Zealand and their employers, while also ensuring New Zealanders needing work are prioritised, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. We are: Extending temporary work visas due to expire by the end of 2020 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Freshwater commissioners and fast-track consenting convenor appointed
    Professor Peter Skelton CNZM has been appointed as Chief Freshwater Commissioner and Alternate Environment Court Judge Craig James Thompson as Deputy Chief Freshwater Commissioner for the newly established Freshwater Planning Process (FPP). Environment Minister David Parker today also announced the appointment of Chief Environment Court Judge Laurie Newhook as the ...
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    4 days ago
  • Appointment of Judge of the High Court
    Auckland Queen’s Counsel Neil Campbell has been appointed a Judge of the High Court, Attorney‑General David Parker announced today. Justice Campbell graduated with a BCom and LLB (Hons) from the University of Auckland in 1992. He spent two years with Bell Gully Buddle Weir in Auckland before travelling to the United ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Feedback sought – Commercial Film and Video Production Facilities
    The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Poto Williams, is seeking feedback on a proposal to better enable the development and operation of commercial film and video facilities in Christchurch. The Proposal, developed by Regenerate Christchurch in response to a request from Christchurch City Council, asks that powers under section ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt launches bold primary sector plan to boost economic recovery
    The Government has launched a bold plan to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade, while protecting the environment and growing jobs. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today released Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential, a 10-year roadmap to unlock greater value ...
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    4 days ago
  • Wellbeing of whanau at heart of new hub
    A new approach to prevent family harm that encourages greater collaboration across government and community groups is being celebrated at the opening of a new facility in Auckland. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today opened the Multi-Disciplinary Family Harm Prevention Hub Te Taanga Manawa in Lambie Road in Manukau. The facility ...
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    4 days ago
  • New Report on Auckland Port Relocation
    The Government has released a major new report on the options for relocating the Port of Auckland’s freight operations while deferring any decision on the issue. “That decision needs to be informed by policy analysis that is still to be completed. As a result it will be up to a ...
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    4 days ago
  • Dual place names for Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula features
    The history of Rāpaki is being restored through the inclusion of te reo in thirteen official place names on Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula and around Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō, the Minister for Land Information, Eugenie Sage, announced today.   “I am pleased to approve the proposals from Te Hapū o Ngāti ...
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    4 days ago
  • Government and Air New Zealand agree to manage incoming bookings
    Bookings for seats on Air New Zealand flights into New Zealand will be managed in the short term to ensure the Government is able to safely place New Zealanders arriving home into a managed isolation or quarantine facility, says Housing Minister Megan Woods.  “Last week Air Commodore Darryn Webb and I ...
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    4 days ago
  • $80 million for sport recovery at all levels
    Grant Robertson has today announced the first major release of funding from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced at Budget 2020.  “Today we’re setting out how $80 million will be invested, with $54 million of that over the 2020/2021 financial year for organisations from community level through to elite ...
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    4 days ago
  • Keeping ACC levies steady until 2022
    The Government is maintaining current levy rates for the next 2 years, as part of a set of changes to help ease the financial pressures of COVID-19 providing certainty for businesses and New Zealanders, ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. “New Zealanders and businesses are facing unprecedented financial pressures as a ...
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    5 days ago
  • Extended loan scheme keeps business afloat
    Small businesses are getting greater certainty about access to finance with an extension to the interest-free cashflow loan scheme to the end of the year. The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme has already been extended once, to 24 July. Revenue and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says it will be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New investment creates over 2000 jobs to clean up waterways
    A package of 23 projects across the country will clean up waterways and deliver over 2000 jobs Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Environment Minister David Parker announced today. The $162 million dollar package will see 22 water clean-up projects put forward by local councils receiving $62 million and the Kaipara ...
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    6 days ago
  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
    Tena koutou katoa  Nga tangata whenua o tenei rohe o Pōneke, tena koutou Nau mai, haere mai ki te hui a tau mo te roopu reipa Ko tatou!  Ko to tatou mana!  Ko to tatou kaupapa kei te kokiri whakamua  Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena tatou katoa   Welcome. I ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • PGF top-up for QE Health in Rotorua
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $1.5 million to ensure QE Health in Rotorua can proceed with its world class health service and save 75 existing jobs, Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. The PGF funding announced today is in addition to the $8 million ...
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    1 week ago
  • Building a more sustainable construction sector
    A new programme, which sets a firm course for the Building and Construction sector to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, has been announced by the Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa. “A significant amount of New Zealand’s carbon emissions come from the building and construction sector.  If we’re serious ...
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    1 week ago
  • PGF funds tourism boost in Northland
    The Provincial Growth Fund is investing more than $7.5 million in Northland ventures to combat the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced. The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investment is going to the Northern Adventure Experience and ...
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    1 week ago