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Brian Edwards on Key

Written By: - Date published: 11:55 am, August 19th, 2009 - 34 comments
Categories: john key - Tags:

Brian Edwards gives his take on our “Photo-op PM”.

Demonising Key hasn’t and isn’t likely to work for Labour. It doesn’t accord at all with the public perception of him (as evidenced by the polls) and it positions Labour as negative and nitpicking right at the time the country is looking for positivity and vision. Is what drops out of Edwards’ piece the beginnings of an alternative strategy for the left?

I’m a Labour man from way back and I’m saying this – Key might just exemplify the core advice we give to all our clients: In your dealings with the media, be straightforward, tell the truth, admit your mistakes.

So, as the Government slowly but surely rips the heart out of the welfare state, rewarding the rich and punishing the poor, Key’s job as frontman is to be the ultimate populist PM.

I doubt that Key is either as naïve or as easily bullied as Lange, but there are some uncanny similarities between the Lange/Douglas show and the Key/English show. And that will eventually spell trouble for Key and the National government. Trouble with a capital T.

Read the full piece.

34 comments on “Brian Edwards on Key”

  1. lukas 1

    “Demonising Key hasn’t and isn’t likely to work for Labour.” does this signal a change in what we are going to be reading from The Standard?

    I don’t say this as a smart arse comment, I did enjoy the alternative positions that used to be put forward by this site, I believe it has been lacking of late.

    • Eddie 1.1

      Your mistake is to portray The Standard as a borg. We don’t have a central committee that dictates how people analyse the political situation.

      Obviously there’ll be a tendency for us to have similar views due to our shared politics, and we’ll tend to riff off each other from time to time, but you seem to have got the wrong idea of what we’re about.

      As to the point of the article, I think that’s a thread that’s been running through posts here for a while – Key is a populist frontman of little principle, who’s been put there to distract the public from what’s really going on in the background.

      Clearly he’s got the right-wing views you’d expect of a currency speculator worth tens of millions, but he’s not wedded to ideology in the same way as Brash was. For that reason he’s a better politician, even if the difference between the two is only a matter of style rather than substance.

      • Daveski 1.1.1

        ” … populist frontman …:

        With no attempt to troll, extract the urine or otherwise deflect this topic, I don’t get it. You run a “democracy under attack” because National won’t do what (you believe) the public wants. Yet you dismiss him for being populist? I’m sure I’m not the only one confused by this.

        The other issue for the left is crying wolf. None of the worst case scenarios (including Edwards’s comments) are true or at least true yet. And unless there is a massive secret agenda that will make a fool of me, the baying from the left is actually helping the Nats as smaller changes can easily be made.

        I think that’s partly what ayb is getting at.

        • Rex Widerstrom 1.1.1.1

          Now there’s an interesting subject for political tragics, but one sadly way off-topic for this post so I won’t take the next 2,000 words to expand my views on “when does democracy become populism, and vice versa, and is there in fact a difference?”

      • Tim Ellis 1.1.2

        I don’t think lukas portrayed the standard as a borg Eddie. I don’t think it’s too harsh to say that you appear as a borg, with your views dictated by labour party central committee.

      • marcus lunch 1.1.3

        Eddie,

        Perhaps the non-borg should look at ways on not emulating hive mind syndrome if this perception is to dissipate.

        rgds
        marcus

    • Bright Red 1.2

      Even if Labour changes its approach, I don’t see any reason why the Standard would change from what it is doing very effectively – providing a hub and rallying point of leftwing opposition to National. They’re two separate beasts with different but allied objectives.

      I think the problem from some on the Right is they have come to think of what the Standard says as being what Labour says (and I think it works that way round)… so you imagine that Labour is being confrontational and nitpicking when in fact you’re just seeing a leftwing blog doing what a leftwing blog is always going to do when a rightwing government is in power.

  2. Demonising Key hasn’t and isn’t likely to work for Labour. It doesn’t accord at all with the public perception of him (as evidenced by the polls) and it positions Labour as negative and nitpicking right at the time the country is looking for positivity and vision.

    The most perceptive comment here for some time. Just like many or most of the right completely overlooked HC’s strengths, I think the most here have underestimated Key’s strengths.

    I also agree it’s tough for Labour because nothing appears to be working – in the midst of a recession, National’s honeymoon goes on unabated.

    Nothing personal against Goff (I actually kind of sort of respect him) but he’s not the right man for the left – politically too similar to Key and doesn’t seem to represent a change in Labour.

    The other parts of Edward’s comments are more wisful thinking. National seems to have learnt the lesson from the past and a lengthy spell in Government still relies on straddling the centre with selective policy changes.

    Again, a good post ayb and will be interesting to see where this goes.

    • gingercrush 2.1

      Of course the right couldn’t understand Helen Clark, they still can’t. But you’re certainly right about the left. Their opinions of Key look very shaky and rather incorrect. Even now the right seem to think National’s popularity is because New Zealanders somehow woke up and decided they don’t like Helen Clark anymore. That isn’t true. Helen Clark will be well remembered for years.

      I see the left as behaving like the right did during the early-2000s when Labour and Helen Clark were at their strongest. The polls looked bad for National and Labour polled highly. Despite numerous troubles including their main coalition party collapsing in two. They continued to poll well. The right saw the media as being blatantly bias for Labour (they still do). The left do that now. They expect the media to conform to their own views and to look down on John Key and National. It isn’t going to happen because right now the left isn’t as relevant as the right.

      They’ll see issues such as Worth, Lee, Bennett and now Goodfellow and wonder why none of this is sticking and hurting National. Fact is such things rarely hurt a government in its first-term. At the moment they still think its because voters don’t want to admit they made a mistake. You’ll see that response all over the blogosphere by the left. Such an explanation is simple and frankly wrong. The centre changes. It shifts left and then will go right and eventually will go the other way. But right now its more right than left. No amount of screaming how ideological this government is or how big their secret agenda is, are going to change things.

      The left is where National was after 1999. Struggling to understand that whilst their previous leader continues to be well regarded and a government they see as breaking numerous policies and going in a direction that to them is far-right remains popular. It takes time to unwind. The left doesn’t get that but neither did the right.

  3. Edwards’ comments are perceptive. The difference between Brash and Key is tiny in terms of world view but huge in terms of public perception.

    Labour was able to effectively demonise Brash. He lost the 2005 election when he talked about “mainstream New Zealanders” and how this excluded everyone except white heterosexual middle class NZers.

    Key made no such mistake. At the best of times his speech is so sloppy that it is impossible to distil a coherent message.

    The Standard is doing the country a service however. This is to chip away at the veneer and show the real person beneath. This may take two years but that is fine. There should be an election at that time.

  4. roger nome 4

    “Demonising Key hasn’t and isn’t likely to work for Labour.”

    No, not with the media the way it is. But the media hunts in packs, so i suspect Labour is trying to “lead” the media dogs with a framing of Key that is latent in the public consciousness. It’s a long term strategy that can really pay off if Key is shoown to lie on a very serious issue in the future (the latent perception is that he’s dishonest, smarmy and slippery).

    It would be much more pleasing to see Labour forming a positive socialist alternative that is significantly different from National to allow a focus on poilicy differences rather than personality – but we won’t get that while the limp-wristed centrist Goff is leader. But that will change after the left loses the next election.

    • gingercrush 4.1

      roger nome you think Labour is really done for 2011?

    • Tim Ellis 4.2

      That isn’t a latent perception, Mr Nome. It’s just your wishful thinking of what the public believes, which isn’t supported by any empircal evidence.

  5. roger nome 5

    GC – well you know what they say. A week in politics is a very long time, and 2 years can be like an eternity. My opinion is that if National lets unemployment get out of hand, like they did in the 1990s, they’re going to see their popularity erode (“unemployment kills governments”). If Key can avoid that, and any serious scandal I’m picking National to win in 2011. That would lead to Goff’s ousting as leader, which i believe would be healthy for the left.

    • George D 5.1

      I’d like to see someone start a fight between National and the elderly. The ingredients are there, and the zombie is off the scene.

  6. roger nome 6

    GC:

    I agree with you apart rom the following:

    “The centre changes. It shifts left and then will go right and eventually will go the other way. But right now its more right than left.”

    People’s party preference changes from left to right, but i think much of that is due to “time for change” sentiment, rather than changing ideals – i.e. my beliefe is that the public is more in accord wit hthe ideals of the Labour Party than the National Party – i.e. internal party polling shoows that privatisation was never popular and still isn’t (and National knows this, so it tries to hide this aspect of its ideology).

  7. Eric C. 7

    All Your Bases, are you seriously suggesting that Labour’s strategy should be to join the John Key lovefest?

    John Key will be our Prime Minister for many years to come if the main opposition party continues going around telling everyone how lucky we are to have him.

  8. all_your_base 8

    Eric C. – I’ve made my views on Key plain here on The Standard for many months. You may have noticed that I’m not a huge fan /cough/. I’m certainly not suggesting that Labour “join the lovefest” but I firmly believe that pursuing a strategy based predominantly on knocking over Key is a mistake. It’s the same mistake the right made with Clark for many years (and election losses).

    Guyon gave Labour some free advice in a post of his own last week. I disagree with his view that Goff should ‘cuddle up to Key’ but I’m with him on the assertion that Labour needs to shake the perception (nurtured by National of course) that it’s simply a whinger and a critic. When a journo is telling you that point blank, my view is that you should listen.

    Roger Nome – you’re wrong about Phil Goff. Limp wristed? Nope. From time to time one catches a glimpse of what he’s capable of. I don’t yet think he’s quite found his feet as Labour leader but make no mistake, there’s no shortage of resolve there. When (and if) he figures out he needs to work smarter not harder the numbers will close.

    • Eric C. 8.1

      Oh, I see. Labour should form its strategy based on advice from journos.

      Now there’s a winning strategy.

  9. roger nome 9

    AYB:

    Goff, to me appears to be a plain person with a watery personality, and too similar in ideology, to National’s current programme. So perhaps “limp-wristed” was the wrong term – but he certainly isn’t the flashing beacon that the left needs. He’s a pale blue light being outshon by Key’s deeper and brighter blue light – if you can excuse my indulgence in metaphore. He just isn’t differentiaiting himself from Key, and as a former member of Douglas’ suppport in the cabinet of the fourth Labour Government, i’ve got little faith in his will to ever do anything significantly different.

    This is why i think Labour probably won’t succed with him as leader, so the next election appears to be be National’s to lose.

    • Ianmac 9.1

      roger nome: If Phil Goff is not a threat why would you want him to step aside? Are you trying to help the Left?
      In the same way as I think John should stay as leader for eventually his smile will fade.

    • burt 9.2

      roger

      I would like to take this rare opportunity to say I completely agree with you.

  10. Pascal's bookie 10

    Watching 3news it would seem John is going to have to make a serious coalition choice pretty soon.

    He’s going to have to throw someone under the bus. I’d pick Rodney to back down, but if he really did issue an ultimatum over Maori supercity seats, he must have had a reason. If he didn’t issue that threat, then why is the National Party saying (in private) that he did, and why did that private memo get leaked?

    Maybe the nats polling is telling them that the centre hasn’t moved as far to the right as some might think, and ACT is going to get the ol’ shove.

    Interesting.

  11. gobsmacked 11

    Yes, PB, this is a huge story. The biggest facing the government so far.

    Conflict between ACT and the Maori Party was inevitable, but Key would have wanted kept on hold until after the Foreshore & Seabed was, er, put to bed.

    ACT are not going to vote against National on confidence and supply, so the gov’t won’t fall. But Hide resigning is definitely an option.

    At least one MP (Hone Harawira) won’t back down on the Maori seats. But Sharples and Turia would probably back down for a cup of tea and a marae photo op.

    • mike 11.1

      Its a done deal – JK will back the MP and Rodney will fall into line.

    • Swampy 11.2

      Hide won’t resign, he will never be taken seriously again and his party will lose its levers. Cmon seriously, there is a lot more at stake.

      Either that or Hide truly is the ideological lightweight he has shown himself to be in the past (the perks campaign and championing people like David Henderson etc)

  12. ghostwhowalks 12

    Hide has seen the poll results too. hes in Jim Anderton territory and the rest of his MPs led by Garrett , Douglas etc dont want to be a one term coalition partner.

    national stiffed them in the coalition negotiation anyway so they may as well be outside the tent pissing in until National really really depends on them

  13. mike 13

    When Helens trusted spinmiester says JK is no longer a target its time for the left to be afraid – very afraid.

    This is the guy who advised her to use the “this ones about trust” line.

    Now he trusts Key – so where does leave the average voter?

  14. ak 14

    Interesting discussion, but the predominant feature influencing all kiwis – and the current polls – is the global economic threat.

    The clouds are building and it’s hunker-down time: as in 1939, the lion lies down with the lamb; and swing voters – inherently apolitical by definition – invest an incumbent of any stripe with their own wish-fulfilment aspirations and hankering for security.

    Concerns at NACT tinkering ring hollow and petty in such a charged atmosphere – and in any case the needy, shallow-rooted regime bends quickly and pliantly to any slight breeze of disaffection.

    But we near the witching hour in the Kiwi Lounge: Nicey and the Blue Bloods strum nimbly through a repertoire of Labour-lite covers, but the early energy is gone. The crowd calls for more, but minds stray to the hangover ahead.

    Labour should smoke cool in the corner. If offered government tomorrow, it should refuse. The fruits of inherent contradiction and barefaced populism show the spots and splits of sleaze and incompetence already: the heat and hip-pocket pressure in coming months will foment a mess that even a friendly press can’t paper over.

  15. You say this government has a free-market agenda?

    Really?

    Can someone please point me to it?

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    4 days ago
  • Four new projects announced as part of the biggest ever national school rebuild programme
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced significant funding for Auckland’s Northcote College as part of the first wave of a new nationwide school redevelopment programme to upgrade schools over the next 10 years. The $48.5 million project brings the total investment in Northcote College to ...
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    4 days ago
  • COVID-19: Support to improve student attendance and wellbeing
    The Government has opened an urgent response fund to support schools and early learning services to get children and young people back on track after the Covid-19 lockdown. “While we are seeing improvements in attendance under Alert Level 1 Ministry of Education data shows that attendance rates in our schools ...
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    4 days ago
  • Fast-track consenting law boosts jobs and economic recovery
    The law to boost the economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 by speeding up resource consenting on selected projects has passed its second and third readings in the House today. “Accelerating nationwide projects and activities by government, iwi and the private sector will help deliver faster economic recovery and ...
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    4 days ago
  • Whanganui Port gets PGF boost
    Five port-related projects in Whanganui will receive a $26.75 million Provincial Growth Fund investment to support local economic recovery and create new opportunities for growth, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is a significant investment that will support the redevelopment of the Whanganui Port, a project governed ...
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    5 days ago
  • More support for Sarjeant Gallery
    Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery will receive an investment of up to $12 million administered by the Provincial Growth Fund to support its redevelopment, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. The project is included in a $3 billion infrastructure pipeline announced by Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Shane Jones yesterday. ...
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    5 days ago
  • Funding for training and upskilling
    The Provincial Growth Fund is investing nearly $2.5 million into three Te Ara Mahi programmes to support Manawatū-Whanganui jobseekers and employees to quickly train and upskill, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “Up to 154 local people will be supported into employment within the first year by these ...
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    5 days ago
  • Statement from the Minister of Health Dr David Clark
      This morning I have formally tendered my resignation as Minister of Health, which was accepted by the Prime Minister. Serving as Minister of Health has been an absolute privilege – particularly through these extraordinary last few months. It’s no secret that Health is a challenging portfolio. I have given ...
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    5 days ago
  • Scholarship placements for agricultural emissions scientists doubles
    Scholarships for 57 early-career agricultural emissions scientists from 20 developing countries is another example of New Zealand’s international leadership in primary sector sustainability, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. Mr O’Connor, announcing the scholarships today, says hundreds of applications were received for this fourth round of the CLIFF-GRADS programme (Climate, Food ...
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    5 days ago
  • Funding for Foxton regeneration
    A project to help rejuvenate the Horowhenua town of Foxton will receive a Provincial Growth Fund investment of $3.86 million, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This funding for the Foxton Regeneration project will be used to make the well-known holiday town even more attractive for visitors and ...
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    5 days ago
  • Plan to improve protection of moa bones
    Moa bones and other sub-fossil remains of extinct species are set to have improved protection with proposals to prevent the trade in extinct species announced the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage today. “We have lost too many of our native species, but these lost species, such as moa, remain an ...
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    5 days ago
  • Free lunches served up to thousands of school children in the South Island
    The Government’s free and healthy school lunches programme moves south for the first time creating jobs for around 30 people in Otago and Southland. “Eighteen schools with 3000 students are joining the programme – 11 have already begun serving lunches, and seven are preparing to start during Term 3. This is ...
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    5 days ago
  • Screen Sector recovery package protects jobs, boosts investment
    Thousands of Kiwi jobs and investment in New Zealand productions will be protected through a screen sector support package announced today by Associate Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni, Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford and Minister for Broadcasting Kris Faafoi. The package also includes investment in broadcasting ...
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    5 days ago
  • New fund to help save local events and jobs
    The Government has established a new $10 million fund for the domestic events sector to help save jobs and protect incomes as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, Minister of Economic Development Phil Twyford announced today. This funding from Budget 2020 follows talks with the event sector designed to ...
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    6 days ago
  • Bill to improve fuel market competition
    The Government has taken another step in its commitment to making sure New Zealanders get a fairer deal at the petrol pump with the introduction of legislation to improve competition in the retail fuel market, says Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods. “The fuel market study that this Government ordered ...
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    6 days ago
  • New Zealand joins global facility for pre-purchase of COVID-19 Vaccine
    New Zealand has joined a global initiative that aims to enable all countries to access a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced today. The COVAX Facility was recently launched by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The Alliance includes the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank ...
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    6 days ago
  • Right to legal representation in Family Court restored today
    From today new legislation takes effect to both restore the right to legal representation at the start of a Care of Children (CoCA) dispute in the Family Court, and allow parties to those proceedings to access legal aid where eligible. During a visit to the Family Court in Auckland today, ...
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    6 days ago
  • Transitioning to a fully-qualified home-based ECE workforce
    Home-based early childhood education (ECE) subsidised by the government will transition to a fully qualified workforce by 2025 to ensure better and more consistent quality, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. “Quality early learning helps provide children with a strong foundation for their future,” Chris Hipkins said. From 1 January ...
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    6 days ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission gets to work
    The new Criminal Cases Review Commission | Te Kāhui Tātari Ture (CCRC) has started work and can now independently investigate claimed miscarriages of justice. “Even though we have appeal rights and safeguards against unsafe convictions, from time to time our justice system does get things wrong. The design of the ...
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    6 days ago
  • Speech by the Minister of Defence to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs
    E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā karangatanga maha, tēnā koutou Ki a koutou Te Āti Awa, Taranaki Whānui, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, ngā mana whenua o te rohe nei, tēnā koutou Ko Te Whare Wānanga o Aotearoa ki ngā take o te Ao (NZIIA), Ko te Rōpū Tohu Tono ...
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    6 days ago
  • Six months with baby and $20 more a week for new parents
    The Government’s increase to paid parental leave kicks in today with another 4 weeks taking New Zealand up to a full 6 months (26 weeks, up from 22 weeks) leave for new parents, and the maximum weekly payment will increase by $20pw, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. ...
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    6 days ago
  • Infrastructure investment to create jobs, kick-start COVID rebuild
    A new package of infrastructure investments will help kick-start the post-COVID rebuild by creating more than 20,000 jobs and unlocking more than $5 billion of projects up and down New Zealand. Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones today outlined how the $3 billion infrastructure fund in the ...
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    6 days ago
  • Statement on passage of national security law for Hong Kong
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today expressed the New Zealand Government’s deep disappointment at the passage by China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee of a national security law for Hong Kong. “New Zealand has consistently emphasised its serious concern about the imposition of this legislation on Hong Kong without inclusive ...
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    6 days ago
  • July 1 marks progress for workers, families
    More jobs and more family time with newborns are the centrepiece of a suite of Government initiatives coming into effect today. July 1 is a milestone day for the Government as a host of key policies take effect, demonstrating the critical areas where progress has been made. “The Coalition Government ...
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    6 days ago
  • Auckland water consent referred to Board of Inquiry
    Environment Minister David Parker has today “called in” Auckland’s application to the Waikato Regional Council to take an extra 200 million litres of water a day from the lower reaches of the Waikato River for Auckland drinking water and other municipal uses.  The call-in means the application has been referred ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New Zealand to host virtual APEC in 2021
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker announced today that New Zealand’s hosting of APEC in 2021 will go ahead using virtual digital platforms. Mr Peters said the global disruption caused by COVID-19, including resultant border restrictions, had been the major factor in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Matakana Link Road construction kicks off and drives jobs
    The start of construction on a new link road between Matakana Road and State Highway 1 will create jobs and support the significant population growth expected in the Warkworth area, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Mayor Phil Goff announced today. Transport Minister Phil Twyford said construction of the Matakana Link ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • PPE supplies secured as COVID-19 response focuses on border
    The Government is prioritising its latest investment in PPE for frontline health workers, including staff at managed isolation and quarantine facilities, Health Minister David Clark says. “With no community transmission of COVID-19 our response now has a firm focus on keeping our border safe and secure. “We must ensure that ...
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    1 week ago
  • PGF funding for Parihaka settlement
    The Parihaka Papakāinga Trust in Taranaki will receive up to $14 million for a new visitor centre and other improvements at the historic settlement that will boost the local economy and provide much-needed jobs, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Protections for workers in triangular employment
    Protections for workers who are employees of one employer but working under the direction of another business or organisation have come into force, closing a gap in legislation that  made the personal grievance process inaccessible for some workers, says Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. “This Government is working hard to ...
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    1 week ago
  • Government strengthens managed isolation system
    A range of improvements are already underway to address issues identified in the rapid review of the Managed Isolation and Quarantine system released today, Housing Minister Megan Woods said. The review was commissioned just over a week ago to identify and understand current and emerging risks to ensure the end-to-end ...
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    1 week ago
  • Whakatāne to go predator free with Government backing Ngāti Awa led efforts
    The important brown kiwi habitat around Whakatāne will receive added protection through an Iwi-led predator free project announced by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau. “The Government is investing nearly $5 million into Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa’s environmental projects with $2.5 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Growing Goodwood: Expanding wood waste recycling plant in Bay of Plenty, Waikato
    An extra 4,000 tonnes of offcuts and scraps of untreated wood per year will soon be able to be recycled into useful products such as horticultural and garden mulch, playground safety surfacing and animal bedding as a result of a $660,000 investment from the Waste Minimisation Fund, Associate Environment Minister ...
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    1 week ago
  • Scott Watson’s convictions to be referred to Court of Appeal
    The Governor-General has referred Scott Watson’s convictions for murder back to the Court of Appeal, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. Mr Watson was convicted in 1999 of the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope. His appeal to the Court of Appeal in 2000 was unsuccessful, as was his ...
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    2 weeks ago